"Press in crisis
Journalism is in denial about itself
by Jan Schoenmakers
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.blog-der-republik.de/der-journalismus-verleugnet-sich-selbst/.]
If you live on a powder keg, you have to avoid sparks. Therefore, especially in crises, truthful, trustworthy communication and respectful communication in society is more important than ever. Thus, the more explosive the situation, the more important the fourth estate in the state becomes. It is failing spectacularly right now - as it has in recent crises. As someone who has worked in public communications for 15 years, I lament hurt, disturbed and increasingly repulsed by a journalism that no longer adheres to its own self-imposed code of honor, the International Federation of Journalists' Code of Ethics (https://www.ifj.org/who/rules-and-policy/global-charter-of-ethics-for-journalists.html).
Its core elements, in remarkably clear language, are:
1.) Focus on the undistorted presentation of facts whose origin and accuracy the journalist has verified (no hearsay, no mere third party opinions).
2.) Fair formulation and balance of commentary and criticism, where both sides have their say and there is a right of reply
3.) Information gathering with an open mind, no infiltration, no publication of semi-private chats or unofficial conversations
4) Fast, complete and explicit correction of errors
5.) Clear separation of opinion and commentary, no advocacy of one's own political or economic agenda
6.) Avoidance of reporting that actively contributes to devaluation, anger or hatred towards persons, groups and positions
7) No detective or auxiliary sheriff activities for police, intelligence or law enforcement.
Regardless of where you stand politically, it is easy to see that ALL of these core elements are trampled on daily by almost ALL of the media:
1.) Facts are replaced by internet rumors, hearsay, personal assessments of the journalist, and experts speculating off the cuff. Fatally, this often also applies to self-proclaimed fact-checking formats.
2) The bias in the media reaches into the stratosphere when it comes to morally charged topics. In some cases, downright hunts are organized, and there is a universal consensus about who "should not be given a forum" - from the left as well as from the right, but none of those who are committed to neutrality are neutral.
3) The covert "frying pan" of people, parties and companies with faked e-mails, chat protocols and recordings of private conversations has become a general popular amusement.
4) Errors in one's own reporting are often corrected only after media lawyers have forced this in court - proactive correction as a matter of honor is a thing of the past.
5) A separation of opinion and commentary hardly exists anymore. On the contrary, today's journalism prides itself on writing everything from an attitude of "enlightening," "educating," "inspiring" rather than simply informing. The product is increasingly the attitude toward life, not the truth.
6.) Journalists now regularly label individuals and groups as "terror preachers," "gushers," "climate chaos," "cowards," "antisocials," and worse, empirically proven to drive hatred and discrimination.
7) Investigative formats often pride themselves on helping the police along instead of critically accompanying their work, and measure their success in terms of investigations initiated. In addition, there is a lusty court of opinion that works toward the dismissal and other sanctioning of people who are not legally guilty of anything.
It is as always where people and functions have great responsibility: as beneficial as it is when they use it wisely and ethically, it becomes harmful when they go astray with it. Where journalism itself becomes a political and cultural actor, instead of being a neutral, careful mirror of society, it becomes gangrenous. Drunk on their own power to "change" something, to have an "impact," to shape society in the service of a cause or attitude, journalists lose their ethical and systemic justification and necessity. For politics, we have politicians and activists. For nagging and feel-good affirmation, we have social media. For propaganda and lobbying, we have government and business. Journalism needs to cleanse itself and become itself again. Only then will it survive - and even become more important and possibly more lucrative than ever. And only in this way will democracy survive and be able to heal a divided society.
Jan Schoenmakers is founder and CEO of the Big Data & AI startup HASE & IGEL. The company has frequently attracted media attention, among other things with the first study on the effectiveness of lockdown measures in Germany as well as the proof that Google Trends data, on which among others the economic experts rely, is not valid. HASE & IGEL is Schoenmakers' fourth startup. The social scientist, who worked in the energy industry for a long time, regularly publishes articles in magazines, journals and scientific anthologies.
China's mediation proposals for negotiations and a Global Security Initiative (GSI)
By Willy Sabautzki
[This article posted on February 27, 2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Vermittlungsvorschläge Chinas zu Verhandlungen und eine Globale Sicherheitsinitiative (GSI).]
The ongoing bellicose escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has already left deep scars around the world. And there is no end to the conflict in sight anytime soon.
The war has already resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries, destruction of vital facilities and infrastructure.
U.S. and NATO-supplied tanks, missiles and other sophisticated weaponry are reaching the expanding battlefield, accompanied by media drunkenness on war and moralizing final-victory fanaticism, while Russia is mobilizing more personnel to seek a military solution in its bellicose approach as well.
A diplomatic solution had not yet emerged. Instead of peace talks, the warring and conflicting parties have become further entangled in a dangerous spiral of military escalation through the use of ever more powerful weapons systems. The beneficiaries of these acts of war can be documented and described: https://www.isw-muenchen.de/online-publikationen/texte-artikel/5058-ausgestorben-zu-viel-panzer-zu-wenig-hirn.
The Cold War mentality, which has not abated since the oft-cited end of the Cold War, combined with the hegemonic pretensions of the self-proclaimed champions of a rules-based order, has led to the constant expansion of NATO. Its U.S.-determined expansion strategy runs counter to the understanding of a multipolar public interest. The harsh realities of the past year have given the world a fairly clear understanding of the U.S. global order narrative.
As such, Russia's hegemonic claims to secure its own sphere of influence, which over time now seem to take a higher priority than the pan-European security architecture worth supporting, run counter to the aforementioned global public interest.
The Global South speaks out
The ever louder calls for a ceasefire in the Ukraine war and for negotiations are joined above all by the dialogue initiatives and efforts from the Global South. In this context, the initiatives of Brazilian President da Silva, the declared willingness of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to participate in any peace process, and above all China's
published position paper "China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis," which systematically sets out China's position in 12 points. 
As a responsible major country, China is not involved in the Ukraine crisis, but unmistakably signals its willingness to play a constructive role in promoting a solution. In my view, this document demonstrates China's sincerity and goodwill to actively promote peace talks.
China has demonstrated a factually demonstrable constructive role on several occasions recently within the framework of the current structures of world community organizations.
The country strives for the greatest possible convergence of interests in world governance. With its socio-political-ideological orientation, its foreign policy aspirations are geared towards building a community of states involving mutual economic, social and cultural relations in order to build more consensus, combine greater forces and take more action for the cause of global development and security."
Shortly before the release of the 12-point program outlined below, China had released another concept paper to the international community that is worth mentioning:
Global Security Initiative (GSI) Concept Paper.
In a concept paper on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) released on February 22 this year, China calls on the international community to address security challenges "in a spirit of solidarity" as tensions between China and the United States increase and the war between Russia and Ukraine continues. The paper outlines what China is advocating for as early as April 2022 during an Asia Forum on universal and common security, rejecting unilateralism and a Cold War mentality. "Security is a right of all countries in the world and not the exclusive right of some countries. It should not be decided by a few individual countries" stressed Foreign Minister Qin Gang on the occasion of the paper's release.
More than 80 countries and organizations have already expressed their support for the initiative, The Chinese Foreign Minister stresses that China will host high-level GSI events "at an appropriate time" in the future.
The Global Security Initiative GSI aims to address the root causes of international conflicts, promote global security rules (security governance), and support joint efforts to bring greater stability and security to a time that is "full of challenges."
China's Concept and Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.
In the aforementioned 12-point position paper, the Chinese state government reiterates its opposition to war-mongering and emphasizes the need to respect the sovereignty of all countries.
China clearly rejects the escalating war rhetoric, including the threat of using nuclear weapons.
The China Initiative likewise includes an appeal to all states to act in a supportive manner to end and negotiate a settlement of the belligerent dispute.
The 12 points in detail
1) The sovereignty of all countries must be respected. Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, large or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. All parties should jointly uphold the basic norms of international relations and advocate international fairness and justice. Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards should be rejected.
Move away from the Cold War mentality. The security of one country should not be sought at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and given due consideration. There is no simple solution to a complex problem. All parties should contribute to creating a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture in accordance with the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security and with a view to long-term peace and stability in the world. All parties should oppose the pursuit of their own security at the expense of the security of others, prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability on the Eurasian continent.
Cessation of hostilities. Conflicts and wars benefit no one. All parties must remain rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and escalating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and resume direct dialogue as soon as possible in order to gradually de-escalate the situation and eventually reach a comprehensive ceasefire.
Resumption of peace talks. Dialogue and negotiations are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All efforts that contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. The international community should continue to advocate the right approach to promote peace talks, help the parties to the conflict open the door to a political solution as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiations. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.
Resolving the humanitarian crisis. All measures that help alleviate the humanitarian crisis must be encouraged and supported. Humanitarian action should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The safety of civilians must be effectively protected, and humanitarian corridors should be established for the evacuation of civilians from conflict areas. Efforts must be made to increase humanitarian assistance in affected areas, improve humanitarian conditions, and ensure rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent a major humanitarian crisis. The United Nations should be supported in coordinating humanitarian assistance to conflict areas.
Protection of civilians and prisoners of war. Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacks on civilians or civilian facilities, protect women, children, and other victims of the conflict, and respect the fundamental rights of prisoners of war. China supports the exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine and calls on all parties to create more favorable conditions for this purpose.
Nuclear Power Plant Security. China opposes armed attacks on nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities and calls on all parties to abide by international law, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and resolutely avoid man-made nuclear accidents. China supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in playing a constructive role in promoting the safety of peaceful nuclear facilities.
Reducing strategic risks. Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and a nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances.
Facilitate grain exports. All parties must fully and effectively implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations in a balanced manner, and support the United Nations in playing an important role in this regard. China's proposed cooperative initiative on global food security offers a viable solution to the global food crisis.
Ending unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the problem; they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions not authorized by the UN Security Council. The countries concerned should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and "sweeping jurisdiction" against other countries to do their part to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis and create conditions for developing countries to expand their economies and improve the living conditions of their people.
Maintaining industrial and supply chains. All parties should work seriously to preserve the existing global economic system and resist using the global economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to mitigate the effects of the crisis and prevent it from disrupting international cooperation in energy, finance, food trade, and transportation and undermining global economic recovery.
Promoting post-conflict reconstruction. The international community must take steps to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict areas. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this regard.
The audible positive responses to Chinese initiatives, as well as the peace forces mobilized in many places, give reason to believe that there is some room for responsible political action and a related willingness to talk about resolving the Ukraine conflict. Even if the principle of hope is particularly weak at this time and on this issue, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine still remains at a stalemate, no one can afford a long-term war of attrition with more deaths and destruction.
The implications have aroused great vigilance in the international community. The impact of this crisis on the large number of countries in the Global South, but inevitably also on "us," is direct and strongly felt. This is precisely why the countries of the Global South do not want to join sides, as evidenced by the voting results in international bodies (UN General Assembly). They hope and desire to be able to persuade the parties involved to reach a peaceful solution without violence.
Against this background, the significance of the position paper released by China on Friday becomes even clearer.
China's Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. fmprc.govcn Feb. 24, 2023.
isw-report 130, China and its role in a multipolar world order, 2022.