What is an opinion contribution in journalism

A comment is not a settlement

REUTLINGEN. To answer a frequently asked question right away: No, we don't get any calls telling us the direction of the comment or the article. Neither from Ms. Merkel nor from Prime Minister Kretschmann. Of course, the publisher sets the trend for a newspaper. But that doesn't mean he's dictating a comment. Journalists enjoy an extraordinary degree of freedom that hardly any other profession has. The special position of journalists is shown by the fact that their independence is explicitly guaranteed in the Basic Law. Freedom of the press is a gift that we look forward to every day. This freedom is at the same time an obligation to deal with it responsibly. You shouldn't abuse them.

It is undoubtedly a privilege to have a prominent position in the newspaper. How do you deal with it properly? Every newspaper has rules for this. The industry has given itself a guideline (press code) as to what you can and cannot do. But even these rules are not irrevocable. They are renegotiated again and again through the discussion between readers and journalists, between the press and society. So it came about that the naming of the origin of criminals was more broadly defined.

But what actually makes a good comment? In any case, it is not one-sided in the sense that the author uses the opportunity to really give his opinion to a party or a person. In general, your own dismay is not a yardstick. Specifically: Nobody should work their way through the city because they drove their car too fast and had to pay a fine. The business editor doesn't credit a company just because he owns its stocks. In politics, the analysis of the energy transition must not depend on whether or not you have a photovoltaic system on your roof. We call it a professional ethic. A comment is not an outburst of anger that is put on paper. In a comment, the writer deals with the other person and their arguments and objections. It's kind of a fictional argument.

But a comment is not just about weighing up arguments. In the end, there must be a clear opinion, a judgment that is as well-founded as possible. That is what makes the appeal and the quality. He doesn't convince with volume or polemics, but with good arguments. Nevertheless, it can provoke contradiction. Readers can rub themselves against the comment and its arguments.

Of course, every newspaper is a company with tendencies and stands for a specific opinion. But that does not mean that there is a tight and eternal political line. With us, a comment does not impress because it represents the supposedly only correct opinion. It is not about attitudes and the exclusion of people and groups who have a different view. That doesn't go with democracy and the Reutlinger General-Anzeiger. We see ourselves as an instrument for maintaining democracy. We want to bring people together and encourage people to listen and objectively discuss the best way forward.

The daily sees itself as a counter-model to the tirades of hate on social media. That's why we're basing ourselves on something very old-fashioned: the message. That sounds banal. But the internet makes the debates faster and faster. The reactions roll over. It is sometimes difficult to find out where the heart of the story lies. What is exaggeration, what is polemic, what is just a distraction? And what is really behind it? We deal with these questions every day and try to find answers.


With the campaign "Journalism Shows Face", the newspaper publishers in Baden-W├╝rttemberg want to highlight the importance of journalism and make the work of journalists transparent. In the series, we describe what everyday life looks like in the GEA editorial team and explain the criteria we use to work. (GEA)

It is precisely this orientation towards the facts, i.e. towards the news, that keeps us from making mistakes. Even if some readers criticize it as mainstream journalism because we don't report on some topics. But the newspaper does not want to help ideologues, character assassination campaigns or conspiracy theories. You can only comment and rate something on the basis of facts, not assumptions or anonymous accusations. The comment is an attempt to get as close as possible to the truth. And that every day, over and over again. (GEA)