It is campaign time and the media is in campaign mode. “Laschet lures with Söder-Köder” was the headline of Bild.de over the weekend. The Springer people can do good titles. In contrast, “Laschet accuses Scholz of inappropriate behavior” on Spiegel.de seemed rather lame.
Regardless of whether it is a picture or a mirror, the election campaign is a grateful topic for journalists. A press conference by the Chancellor candidates here, a public appearance there and a political talk program in between. Hardly any annoying search for stories, little long research. Some researchers call this “election campaigns as a (media) ritual”. Politics and the media work in symbiosis. The ritual runs (almost) smoothly.
Election campaign in quiz show format
The spearheads in the political marathon are the public service media. On Sunday evening it was therefore also called “The Triell – three battle for the Chancellery” in the ARD. Triathlon? That sounds more like sport and less like political debate. You couldn’t expect them here either. What came was “Politainment”, ie political staging in an entertaining way. Changing close-ups, effective cuts, entertaining music. There were even live blogs to read along. Election campaign in quiz show format.
The rules of media politics change as quickly as the habits of our media consumption. Our viewing and reading habits set the tone. In everyday life, overwhelmed by information, we are lured in the election campaign with quick stimuli, emotions and buzzwords. It can sometimes go below the belt, as some candidates have had to experience. But more content takes time, and that is tight. It is not for nothing that giant portraits of politicians hang everywhere with catchy slogans, apparently personal and easy to understand. Whether that is good for democracy is another question.
The focus is on the powerful or those who would like to be. Issues outside of the election campaign are neglected unless they serve to catch votes: climate, flood disaster, corona, Afghanistan. What is suffering is the political debate. What irony!
Take Afghanistan as an example: The search is on for the guilty party for a Taliban fiasco that many opponents of the war have been warning of for years. Today politicians don’t seem to have heard of it, nor do many journalists. They prefer to follow the election campaign hunt for possible straw dolls, that is, the culprits for the political failure of an entire government. The Afghan civilians fall by the wayside. But they cannot vote either and so fall out of the symbiosis of German media and politics.
There is currently no time for these discussions. All signs point to political advertising, sweat-free and beautifully made up. What is advertised is what ultimately disappoints – but that is in the nature of advertising. Informed citizens cannot be convinced in their decisions by catchy slogans anyway, but only through critical participation in the democratic process. Even the smiling “Söder-Köder” can’t change that. Luckily!