Over the past week, if you watch state-run ARD/ZDF (channel one and two in Germany), we've had the journalists on an agenda....plugging away for supporting refugees and immigrants. As theater-like journalism goes, I'd say it's mostly marginal stuff that the public doesn't necessarily buy, but some intellectuals will think it's the best way to win hearts and minds.
So, last night was ARD's big theater push with Anja Reschke running some editorial piece on the Tagesschau. It was sharp commentary on harsh words by various folks She wanted to note that some folks are being prosecuted for on-line hate speech, but you people (those watching her) need to take the actions that the authorities won't do and act supportive of immigrants and refugees. As an American would say....."Stand tall".
Generally, it's hard to say if the message got across. Lot of negativity expressed about her editorial but a number of folks saying 'praise' of the commentary. The one piece of the editorial that probably didn't come across well....was the brief suggestion that economic refugees ought to be given the right to stay.
Germany has taken a strong point on the Syrians.....because of the war, they basically get a green light. In most cases for Afghanistan or Eritrea, it's mostly a green light. For the southern Europe region (Serbia, Albania, etc)....zero support because they are economic refugees and Germany won't agree to that stance. Based on various numbers given by the news media since January.....I'd say it's about three to one.....economic refugees who won't get permission to stay versus Syrians who will get to stay.
Adding to the mess, I'm the outsider and just an observer, but Germany has a marginal one-star refugee handling program in place. I won't say it's a disaster (like what's going on in Vienna currently)....but the bulk of temp folks waiting on approval....are in pretty lousy conditions for six to eight weeks minimum (on up to six months). The Berlin crowd has forced the handling issue down to individual states, and only recently started paying them cash to handle the problem.
The states? They really don't have a four-star plan, and have handed this onto various communities or cities to handle. If it were a flood and you were talking about a two week deal in some shelter.....fine, they'd do OK. Well....this is looking more and more like a permanent and massive program. A potential program of one-million folks arriving, and you got to shelter roughly 750,000 for a while.....until you tell them the screwed-up message of get on the bus and haul back to your country of origin.
Beyond that point, there is a limited number of immigrants that Germany can probably handle on a quarterly basis....moving them through the system....through integration....through language classes....and onto some work situation. I don't know the magic number, but it sure doesn't add up to one million new immigrants a year. I'd take a humble guess that they can probably handle somewhere in the range of 250,000 at best.
For those in harsh economic conditions in southern Europe.....it's tough luck. Most EU members are not looking at positive numbers for jobs or business potential. That's why Germany, with growth and a positive view.....is target number one.
The journalists getting involved in this theme of support-the-refugees? It's not their job. You expect journalists to report, tell facts, and get the story straight and simple. When you turn into a cheer-leader.....you lose respect from the public. For the ARD folks on last night's episode.....you simply are burning away respect and making the public question your ethical behavior in telling a story in a fair and correct fashion. What else are you a cheerleader on.....wouldn't the public like to know the rest of the themes that are stressed?
The back side of this whole issue? The national election in Germany is roughly two years away, and some political groups and journalists are a bit disturbed because topic number one.....is immigration and refugees. That hurts the SPD and Green Party to a major extent. If you can't get the public onboard and accepting this situation or improving it......well, it's a lost cause for this next election. I hate to suggest that journalists are playing along with an election theme in this episode.....but it really smells like it.