Media Freedom and Censorship in Switzerland
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.
2 Introduction 14
14 2 Introduction 2.1 Utopia versus reality – high ideals versus hard facts A watchdog, a genuine fourth estate working in the service of a free and liberal democracy, committed to the continuity of John Locke’s enlightenment impetus as epitomised by his Two Treatises of Gov- ernment (Locke 1690) and Charles-Louis de Montesquieu’s idea of the separation of powers as expressed in his Défense de l’esprit des lois (de Montesquieu 1748), liberal and democratic, diverse and discursive: this is what Ralf Dahrendorf expects of the media in a free society (Dahrendorf 2006). This is how most of the media pre- sents itself too: altruistic, serving the interests of res publica and public opinion and promoting democratic discourse. And this, cer- tainly, is how most Swiss people see their media, and how the Swiss media see themselves. But how does this image measure up to concrete reality? It was a statement by the renowned Bern media scientist Roger Blum2 that jolted people out their supposed Helvetic Arcadia. Dur- ing a symposium, he complained about Swiss journalism’s proximity to power, criticised its obsession with harmony and found fault with the overpowering consensus between the political system and the media. He pinpointed similar symptoms of this media malaise in Russia and in Switzerland (Blum 2005).3 However, those who were expecting an outcry in the media scene were thoroughly mistaken. No comments, no response, no analysis: 2 Roger Blum worked as a journalist for many years, including a spell in the chief editorial...
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