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The Invisible Scissors

Media Freedom and Censorship in Switzerland

Marc Höchli

A watchdog, a genuine fourth estate working in the service of a free and liberal democracy, diverse and discursive: this is what we expect of the media. This is how most of the media present themselves: altruistic, serving the interests of res publica and public opinion and promoting democratic discourse. And this is how most Swiss people see their media.
Yet, does the shining image correspond to reality? Or are the much-praised journalistic Elysium of Switzerland and the diversity and quality of the Swiss media tarnished? And to what extent is freedom of the media guaranteed?
This research into the mass media of Switzerland highlights the current threats to the freedom of the media and identifies the scissors of censorship. It scrutinizes the power of advertising, the battle for market share, the infiltration of PR agencies into editorial offices, the quality of journalistic training, self-censorship and infotainment as the supreme credo. The findings show that freedom of the media in Switzerland is severely jeopardised.


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1  Preface 11  1.1 The catalyst for this research 11 1.2 Acknowledgements 12 2  Introduction 14  2.1 Utopia versus reality – high ideals versus hard facts 14 2.2 A starting point: Roger Blum’s pronouncement on Swiss journalism 16 2.3 The framework of the thesis 17 2.4 Design of the thesis 20 2.5 The standpoint of the author 25 3  The Meanings of Censorship 27  3.1 A weapon of power 27 3.2 Comprehending the term “censorship” 28 3.3 The origin and development of authoritarian censorship 33 3.4 Censorship in today’s democratic constitutional state 38 3.5 Switzerland is no exception 50 4  The Origins and Evolution of Media Freedom in Switzerland 65  4.1 A hard-won quality 65 4.2 The emergence into an intellectual modern age through the “Helvetia” 66 4.3 Freedom of the press as a new quality 67 4.4 Searching for the new state 68 4.5 The development of the freedom of the press in the new federal state 71 4.6 Freedom of the press – a valuable quality 72 4.7 The Federal Constitution of 1999 76 5  Media and Democracy Today 79  5.1 No state within a state 79 5.2 The role of the media in a democracy 80 5.3 The importance of the media in the communication of information 84 5.4 Have the media taken over the function of the political parties? 86 5.5 The media-friendly politician 88 5.6 PR methods of marketing personalities 89 5.7 Media friendliness and election successes 91 5.8 Consensus democracy and the diminishing consensus 93 5.9...

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