Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Luegenpresse? Word of the Year in Germany

There is a meeting of a couple of Germans each review German words used over the past year.  It's an odd task.....they want to convene and select the word-of-the-year.  It'll be a phrase that the journalists used often, that the political folks attached themselves to, or that the public simply fell into love with (or hated with passion).

Yesterday, the announcement came over the word for 2014.  Luegenpresse....."lying press".

It's an old phrase.  Most journalists are running around and trying to hype up that it was used in the decade prior to WW II.  The phrase got invented over a hundred years the decade prior to WW I.

To explain this.....Kaiser Wilhelm II (the grandson of the epic leader of Prussia) was a marginal leader and complicated political player.  He didn't have the talents of Wilhelm I, or the statesman-type guy like Bismark around.  To ensure stability....the Prussian military utilized the talents and skills of the majority of newspapers in Prussia at the time.  They planted stories....they slanted stories....they ensure big shockers were downplayed....they downhyped every negative that came up about the leadership.  Prussians invented reach an agenda.

Thirty years later, no Kaiser or Prussian staff involved......the press got used again.  This the Nazi Party.  The public probably figured this out....but you can't fire your local newspaper or the editor.  So they simply used the term and talked in private about the lying press.

So, in 2014.....the folks talking anti-immigration found the press was again....the Luegenpresse. Stories were slanted.  Stories were pushed to cover negativity.  No one says it's the German government this time around....which is the odd part of this story.

Bottom line?  It's a curious term to be selected as word-of-the-year, and there's a vast history behind it.

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