Der Spiegel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel front page.jpg
1 May 2004 issue
Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Büchner
Categories News magazine
Frequency Weekly (on Mondays)
Circulation 1,050,000 / week
Publisher Spiegel-Verlag
First issue 4 January 1947; 67 years ago (1947-01-04)
Country Germany
Language German
ISSN 0038-7452

Der Spiegel (German pronunciation: [deːɐ ˈʃpiːɡəl], lit. "The Mirror") is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.[1][2][3]

It was founded in 1947 by John Challenor, a British army officer, and Rudolf Augstein, a former Wehrmacht radio operator who was recognized in 2000 by the International Press Institute as one of the fifty World Press Freedom Heroes.[4] Spiegel Online, the online sibling of Der Spiegel, was launched in 1994 with an independent editorial staff. Typically, the magazine has a content to advertising ratio of 2:1.

Der Spiegel is known in German-speaking countries mostly for its investigative journalism. It played a key role in uncovering many political scandals such as the Spiegel scandal in 1962 and the Flick affair in the 1980s. According to The Economist, Der Spiegel is one of continental Europe's most influential magazines.[5]

History[edit]

Old Spiegel headquarters, Hamburg
New Spiegel headquarters since 2011, Hamburg

The first edition of Der Spiegel was published in Hanover on Saturday, 4 January 1947. Its release was initiated and sponsored by the British occupational administration and preceded by a magazine titled, Diese Woche (This Week), which had first been published in November 1946. After disagreements with the British, the magazine was handed over to Rudolf Augstein as chief editor, and was renamed Der Spiegel. From the first edition in January 1947, Augstein held the position of editor-in-chief, which he retained until his death on 7 November 2002.

After 1950, the magazine was owned by Rudolf Augstein and John Jahr; Jahr's share merged with Richard Gruner in 1965 to form the publishing company Gruner + Jahr. In 1969, Augstein bought out Gruner + Jahr for DM 42 million and became the sole owner of Der Spiegel. In 1971, Gruner + Jahr bought back a 25% share in the magazine. In 1974, Augstein restructured the company to make the employees shareholders. All employees with more than three years seniority were offered the opportunity to become an associate and participate in the management of the company, as well as in the profits.

Since 1952, Der Spiegel has been headquartered in its own building in the old town part of Hamburg.

Der Spiegel's circulation rose quickly. From 15,000 copies in 1947, it grew to 65,000 in 1948 and 437,000 in 1961. It was nearly 500,000 copies in 1962.[6] By the 1970s, it had reached a plateau at about 900,000 copies. When the German re-unification in 1990 made it available to a new readership in former East Germany, the circulation exceeded one million.

The magazine's influence is based on two pillars; firstly the moral authority established by investigative journalism since the early years and proven alive by several impressive scoops during the 1980s; secondly the economic power of the prolific Spiegel publishing house. Since 1988, it has produced the TV programme Spiegel TV, and further diversified during the 1990s. In 1994, Spiegel Online was launched.[7] It has separate and independent editorial staff from Der Spiegel. Among other things, Spiegel Verlag now publishes the monthly Manager Magazin.

As of 2010, Der Spiegel was employing the equivalent of 80 full-time fact checkers, which the Columbia Journalism Review called "most likely the world's largest fact checking operation".[8]

Reception[edit]

When Stefan Aust took over in 1994, the magazine's readers realised that his personality was different from his predecessor. In 2005, a documentary by Stephan Lamby quoted him as follows: "We stand at a very big cannon!"[9] Politicians of all stripes who had to deal with the magazine's attention often voiced their disaffection for it. The outspoken conservative Franz Josef Strauß contended that Der Spiegel was "the Gestapo of our time". He referred to journalists in general as "rats".[10] The Social Democrat Willy Brandt called it "Scheißblatt" (i.e., a "shit paper") during his term in office as Chancellor.

Der Spiegel often produces feature-length articles on problems affecting Germany (like demographic trends, the federal system's gridlock or the issues of its education system) and describes optional strategies and their risks in depth.[11][12][13][14][15]

Investigative journalism[edit]

Der Spiegel has a distinctive reputation for revealing political misconduct and scandals. Online Encyclopædia Britannica emphasizes this quality of the magazine as follows: "The magazine is renowned for its aggressive, vigorous, and well-written exposes of government malpractice and scandals."[7] It merited recognition for this as early as 1950, when the federal parliament launched an inquiry into Spiegel's accusations that bribed members of parliament had promoted Bonn over Frankfurt as the seat of West Germany's government.

During the Spiegel scandal in 1962, which followed the release of a report about the possibly low state of readiness of the German armed forces, minister of defence and conservative figurehead Franz Josef Strauß had Der Spiegel investigated. In the course of this investigation, the editorial offices were raided by police while Rudolf Augstein and other Der Spiegel editors were arrested on charges of treason. Despite a lack of sufficient authority, Strauß even went after the article's author, Conrad Ahlers, who was consequently arrested in Spain where he was on holiday. When the legal case collapsed, the scandal led to a major shake-up in chancellor Konrad Adenauer's cabinet and Strauß had to stand down. The affair was generally received as an attack on the freedom of the press. Since then, Der Spiegel has repeatedly played a significant role in revealing political grievances and misdeeds, including the Flick Affair.[6]

The Spiegel scandal is now remembered for altering the political culture of post-war Germany and—with the first mass demonstrations and public protests—being a turning point from the old Obrigkeitsstaat (authoritarian state) to a modern democracy.

In 2010, the magazine supported WikiLeaks in publishing leaked materials from the United States State Department, along with The Guardian, The New York Times, El País, and Le Monde[16] and in October 2013 with the help of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden unveiled the systematic wiretapping of Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel's private cell phone over a period of over 10 years at the hands of the National Security Agency's Special Collection Service (SCS).[17]

Criticism[edit]

One of the main points of criticism that has been brought against Der Spiegel concerns the language that used to be cultivated in the magazine. In 1957, the writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger published his essay Die Sprache des Spiegels (“The Language of Der Spiegel”), in which he criticised what he called a "pretended objectivity". Wolf Schneider, an eminent journalist and stylist has called Der Spiegel "the biggest mangler of the German language" and used quotations from the magazine as examples for inept German in his style guides. Their criticism was not so much one of linguistic aesthetics as an argument that Der Spiegel "hides and distorts its actual topics and issues by manipulative semantics and rhetoric rather than by reporting and analysing them". Still Enzensberger also published in 1957 a written statement that there was no other contemporary German magazine competing with the Spiegel's level of objectivity after all.

Opinions about the aesthetics of the language employed by Der Spiegel changed at the latest in the 1990s. After hiring many of Germany's best feature writers, Der Spiegel has become known for its "Edelfedern" ("noble quills"—wordsmiths). It wins frequently the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize for the best German feature. Eventually Der Spiegel has joined the ranks of the proper grammar and jargon guardians with the Zwiebelfisch ("(printer's) pie") column on the magazine's website, which has even spawned several best-selling books.

Some critics, in particular the media historian Lutz Hachmeister and the Augstein biographer and former Der Spiegel author Otto Köhler, have brought charges against the magazine's dealings with former Nazis, even SS officers. It is alleged that Der Spiegel, which at other times showed no aloofness when exposing the Nazi past of public figures, may have distorted history and covered perpetrators when it had thus insiders hired to write about Third Reich topics. Particularly its early reports and serials in regards to the Reichstag fire authored by former SS officers Paul Carell (who had also served as chief press spokesman for Nazi Germany's Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop) and Fritz Tobias have since about the year 2000 been considered influential in historiography due to the fact that since the 1960s the Spiegel reports written by these two authors had made accredited historian Hans Mommsen.

Der Spiegel has been accused by some academics of harboring a pro-Israel bias.[18][citation needed]

Bans[edit]

A special 25 March edition of Der Spiegel on Islam was banned in Egypt in April 2008 for publishing material deemed by authorities to be insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammed.[19]

Editors-in-chief[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "DER SPIEGEL is Germany's oldest news magazine, founded in 1946 as an obvious imitation of America's TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Kevin J. O'Brien (19 April 2004). "Scoop on Bundesbank head returns focus to Der Spiegel". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 26 February 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  3. ^ "Average circulation: 1.1 million". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Laudatory submission for Hero of World Press Freedom Award: Rudolf Augstein
  5. ^ "Der Spiegel and Germany's press: His country's mirror". The Economist. 16 November 2002. Retrieved 30 June 2013. "Mr Augstein's success in making Der Spiegel one of continental Europe's most influential magazines..." 
  6. ^ a b Esser, Frank; Uwe Hartung (2004). "Nazis, Pollution, and no Sex: Political Scandals as a Reflection of Political Culture in Germany". American Behavioral Scientist 47 (1040). Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Schäffner, Christina (2005). "Bringing a German Voice to English-speaking Readers: Spiegel International". Language and Intercultural Communication 5 (2): 154–167. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Silverman, Craig (9 April 2010). "Inside the World’s Largest Fact Checking Operation. A conversation with two staffers at Der Spiegel". Columbia Journalism Review. 
  9. ^ ""We stand at a very big cannon!" Aust ranks his influence with the Spiegel - and openly acknowledges that he has enemies.". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Strauss claimed that journalists were like vermin around shit (Ratten und Schmeißfliegen)". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "the best investigative reporting, the widest foreign coverage, the sharpest political analysis, and the most insightful social commentary". The Economist. 14 November 2002. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Lambert, Sarah (29 September 1992). "'Der Spiegel' report hits VW shares". The Independent (London). Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Holders of sovereign bonds, while taking a so-called haircut, would be guaranteed half the bond’s face value as an incentive to take part in debt restructuring, Spiegel said". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Here's how Spiegel puts it: "Germany is witnessing a stunning political about-face". It said ...". BBC News. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  15. ^ Harding, Luke (14 March 2011). "Der Spiegel has long been a German institution and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Germany or German politics". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  16. ^ WikiLeaks FAQ: What Do the Diplomatic Cables Really Tell Us? Der Spiegel, 28 November 2010
  17. ^ Embassy Espionage: The NSA's Secret Spy Hub in Berlin Der Spiegel, 27 October 2013
  18. ^ Spiegel tries again Counterpunch, 25 May 2009
  19. ^ "Der Spiegel issue on Islam banned in Egypt". France24. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  20. ^ Eric Pfanner (29 April 2013). "New Der Spiegel Editor will Also Oversee Web Business". The New York Times (Serraval). Retrieved 6 October 2013. 

External links[edit]