Germany’s Media during COVID-19

Jueni Duyen Tran
May 12, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies in Italy, France, and Spain, the media coverage in Germany is keeping a close eye on its European neighbors as well as the conditions in other countries worldwide. Upholding a standard of data-driven reporting, German news outlets continue to inform their audiences about broader developments and statistics, while also reporting on anecdotal stories to illustrate individual hardships have been scarce. An interactive map visualizing coronavirus infections almost in real-time published by Berliner Morgenpost has been shared almost 30 thousand times on Facebook.

Since January, the news in Germany has focused on the pandemic’s implications for the economy: articles both detailing the state’s support measures for small businesses, and the lack of an EU-coordinated economic plan have gained traction online. In addition, with free movement being a central European value, a statewide lockdown remains a concern frequently addressed in the media. During these uncertain and difficult times, chancellor Angela Merkel is considered a source of empathy and strong leadership as she urges Germans “to be patient.” Thus, perhaps ironically, the most liked corona-related article published by popular satire website Der Postillon reads “Following China’s example: Berlin plans to build corona-emergency-clinic within only 40 years.” With more than 113 thousand reactions on Facebook, the story’s popularity paints a picture of a Germany that has not lost its sense of humor – even in the face of a crisis.

Jueni Duyen Tran is a Ph.D. candidate at the Columbia Journalism School researching the impact of digital disinformation on democracy as well as the public notion of truth.