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Science and journalism are among the essential pillars of a democratic society. This is why Article 5 of the German constitution (Grundgesetz) guarantees freedom of the press and scientific freedom. Despite their necessary mutual independence and their often divergent purposes, both freedoms also fulfil similar functions. They supply policy-makers and society with a diverse array of information that is as reliable as possible, reinforcing the education and knowledge of the population and stimulating democratic discourse. They should also provide a basis for reasoned political, economic and technological decisions.
The academies responsible for this position paper believe that the appropriate exercise of this function is being impaired by a series of developments in the scientific and media systems. For example, the economic conditions in both the media and the scientific community have noticeably changed in recent years. Most universities are suffering from a long-term lack of funding; the science system as a whole is changing amid indicator-based performance incentives and the ensuing competition for attention. The media landscape is also undergoing a profound upheaval, the reasons for which include the digitisation and fragmentation of the media and the resulting economic constraints.
The academies are concerned about the aforementioned development and consider it necessary that the scientific community and the media itself, as well as political decision-makers and society, take a more active role in ensuring the future quality of generally accessible information, including scientific knowledge and its representation in the media.
Head of Department Science – Policy – Society, Head of Berlin Office
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