On May 3, 2018, the official World Press Freedom Day, my alma mater, the Deutsche Journalistenschule (DJS) in Munich (Germany), conducted the wonderful project #journalistenschule: In times of so-called „Fake News“, alleged „Lügenpresse“ („lying press“), internet hoaxes and conspiracy theories the idea came up that current and former students of the German journalism school should visit any high school in Germany, their own former school or another, and talk with students and teachers about their profession. Altogether at over 100 high schools all over Germany we met over 7600 students and discussed with them ethical standards, possible mistakes and the crisis of the credibility of journalism in times of mainstream and social media.
Albeit journalism is not anymore my main profession since several years, I of course still believe strongly in the necessity of quality media and a free press for any democracy.
And as a teacher, even though normally at university, I of course also loved the idea of grass-roots work in a classroom. So I joined the project and went to the Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium in Schopfheim, Baden-Württemberg, in the south-west of Germany, close to the Swiss boarder. The high school teacher Daniela Jost and the seven students of the advanced course in politics invited me to visit them early in the morning.
It’s been a wonderful experience to talk to them, to learn more about their everyday reality and first and foremost to see how interested and ciritical they are. After having talked to these bright young folks I don’t worry anymore about the future of democracy. I only hope that out there are many, many more teenagers like them.