Commissioner of the Federal Government for Migration, Refugees and Integration
The corona pandemic has challenged us all – society, the political and business communities, and of course those of us working in the media as well. Corona has turned our lives and coexistence upside down, but has also created new cohesion. So it pleases me all the more that despite all these challenges, the CIVIS Media Prize for Integration and Cultural Diversity 2020 has only been postponed, but not cancelled. After all, public discourse is dominated by entrenched opinions and heated debates when it touches on the topics of migration, refugee movements and integration – in Germany and in other European countries. But a complex issue like migration and integration requires objective and nuanced public discussion if a process of democratic negotiation is to yield socially accepted solutions. This process is of systemic relevance, and this is what CIVIS and the submitted entries stand for.
The media play an important role in this process. With the information and entertainment programmes they offer, they promote an understanding between the different positions and demographic groups. But the media also bring up painful subjects when it comes to integration policy. An understanding and more unity in Germany’s multifaceted society will only happen if media reports are truthful and enlightening. However, social media in particular are littered with fake news and harassment. Again and again, a minority of people who post hate-filled comments succeed in polarising the debates on migration and integration and put democratic voices on the defensive. We need to fight back – both online and offline.
Equally important are enlightening and informative reports and articles that offer a range of opinions. For more than 30 years, the CIVIS Media Prize for Integration and Cultural Diversity has been encouraging people to engage with programmes that deal with a diverse society – on the radio, on TV, online and at the cinema. The award is an incentive to break fresh ground in reporting on immigration and integration – beyond prejudices and clichés. On that note, I would like to wish all participants and nominees the best of luck for the prize-giving ceremony 2020!