Werner D’Inka is a well-known German journalist and one of the publishers of the daily German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Along with the FAZ, he holds the post of president of the Frankfurt press club, is a director of the Free Russian-German Institute of Journalism in the city of Rostov-on-Don, and a member of the “Osteuropa-Berichterstattung” Network. W. D’Inka is a professor at the Department of Editorial Management, University of Arts in Berlin. Mr. D’Inka regularly gives lectures at universities in the cities of Gießen and Siegen.
What is your basic education?
Studies in mass communication research, political science and history.
How did you start working in journalism?
Immediately after university I joined F.A.Z. in 1980. From 1980 I started with a videotex project, and in 1984 I was a member of the editorial staff who produced the first TV news in Germany which was not broadcasted by the public sector but by F.A.Z.-TV. Only 1986 I moved, within the company, to the printed edition.
Were there in your practice any requests to write a biased content?
Were there any occasions when the attitude to main character was changing from positive to negative or vice versa in the process of publishing? Why, if so?
That would apply only to comments. As far as news reports are concerned, it must be regardless whether the author has a “positive” or a “negative” attitude towards the issue. News reports have to be non-partial.
How does FAZ verify given facts and statements?
By trying to identify a second source, by checking the credibility of the original source – and by experience. If a credible wire service states Bavaria Munich 2 – Borussia Dortmund 3, it is not necessary to call to the stadium in order to check the score.
Can be any quarrels with the authors over the biased content?
Yes, can be. It is then the sub-editor’s job to eliminate the bias. If quarrels go on, the head of department or the “Herausgeber” (“Publisher” from German: translator’s note) has to decide.
How do you regulate disputable questions in the editorial office?
By discussion and by confidence in the knowledge of our staff. This is why recruitment is so decisive: We pay very much attention to the decision who will work for us – and give them then a high degree of freedom. For example: Next Sunday presidential elections will be held in France. Our correspondent lives in France for a long time, she speaks French perfectly, in political talk shows of French TV she is said to be the voice of German quality media. Therefore, in disputable questions she has a high credibility – just by knowledge.
How is FAZ covering the conflict in the East of Ukraine? As far as I know, FAZ does not have a correspondent in Ukraine?
Konrad Schuller is our Warsaw-based correspondent who covers also Ukraine. He travels to Ukraine as often as possible, also to the Donbass region, and just the other day he had an interview with Prime Minister Hrojsman.
Do you think that the information narrative about events in the East of Ukraine is close to reality?
Frankly spoken, there is a lot of Russian propaganda also in Germany, but the major newspapers and most of the leading TV stations cover those events in a non-biased manner. The majority of commentators are well aware of the fact who is the aggressor and who is defending their country – which does not exclude serious questions to the Ukrainian government regarding closing the border for coal transports from the occupied territory, regarding pensions for Ukrainian citizens living in the occupied territory, and about ongoing corruption.
Does the influence of Russian propaganda exist in Germany?
To some extent it does, especially in the so called social media and within three political groups: among the right-wing-partisans who are in favor of Putin as a strong leader, among the left-wing-partisans who feel a Soviet-Union nostalgia – and among those who still feel twinges of remorse because of 1941.
Does loyalty journalism exist in Germany? What is your attitude to this concept?
The first and only loyalty is to citizens.
Were there any cases in your practice when you refused from publishing the content because of personal or moral restrictions?
There were a few cases when I refused to publish articles due to a lack of journalistic professionalism (facts not thoroughly checked) or due to a lack of public interest (gossip).
Were there any topics which you did not want to cover?
I like very much the slogan of the New York Times: „All the news that’s fint to print“ – regardless of the question whether an information is of advantage for someone or does harm to somebody.
Were there any cases of influence on your journalistic activity or editorial policy of FAZ?
In an open society there have always been and will always be groups – be it political or economic – that try to influence media. Millions of PR people do that day after day. And some advertisers try so, too.
Are there any disputes in your editorial office about correctness of event coverage? If so, how are these disputes solved?
If a trial gave a judgment to сall the source of information, would you do it?
Do you pay to your informers? If it is not money, can it be for a good attitude?
Were there any mistakes in content that had been already published? How did you solve these problems?
This happens now and then, be it under time pressure, be it by carelessness. Crucial is to correct these mistakes as soon as possible.
What is a recipe for success of FAZ?
Credibility for more than 60 years.
Will printed periodicals survive in the world or will everything be placed in the Internet (online)?
Printed periodicals will survive, maybe with smaller audiences, if they realize that they are no longer those who have news first. All other media – radio, TV, online – are faster. But printed media are better than other able to explain, why a given issue developed in the way it did. I would call this “orientation”. We often feel that in the digital many of us are “over-newsed”, but “under-informed”. This is the missing link which printed media can deliver best.
Interviewer: Andrii Kovalenko