Opinion makers

Blogging is popular in Germany. Although verifiable data is missing, from the accounts of the most used platforms and blog softwares it is estimated that there are about 200,000 bloggers in Germany. The approximately 800,000 page impressions (PI) of these blogs outperform the total PI amount of the websites of the quality newspapers or weeklies, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ.net), Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ online), and Die Welt (Welt online). According to the ARD/ZDF Online Study in 2016, 8 percent of the German users visit blogs at least once a week; it can be assumed that blogs have an important influence on public opinion. As reliable research is missing, the following examples only illustrate a subjective selection of blogs that are the topics of debate in a broader public sphere.

Among the blogs that are regularly discussed about in newspapers and broadcasting are those of the right-wing movements. One is PI-News, an Islamophobic page with ideologies of the extreme right, founded 2004 by Stefan Herre and now run by the Swiss preacher Christine Dietrich. The blog constantly provokes readers with a scenario of the “Islamisation of Europe” and had more than 60,000 visits per day in 2011. It is agitating against Muslims, but also against non-Muslims, and scientists who try to establish a more differentiated perspective of the multi-cultural society. Obscure blogs are also popular, like those from the “truth movement”. One example is Grenzwissenschaften-aktuell.de, which creates its own realities different from those of official science.

The political blog Nachdenkseiten.de is run by Albrecht Müller and rather situated to the left of the political spectrum. The blog had its first entry in 2003 and strives to be a critical website that offers information, “apart from the official spin control in the media” and thus aims to create a counter public. It was founded as a reaction to neo-liberal lobbying and can be perceived as one of the few political websites that are acknowledged in a broader public sphere.

It can be observed that political and media critical blogs are influential. One reason may be the decline of journalistic media critique that fell prey to the austerity policy and media crisis.

Netzpolitik.org is a blog that steps in for public freedom in the web and against surveillance, it also covers all web-related policy issues like web neutrality. The blog was founded and is run by Markus Beckedahl, who perceives the blog as a mix between an NGO and a medium. It is based on solid research and a factual tone. The influence of Netzpolitik.org grew in recent years to an extent that members of the team are regularly invited as experts in official commissions, like recently in the parliamentary commission about the influence of social bots in politics.

According to recent events in public-service media regulation, the Intitiative für Publikumsräte (Initiative for the Establishment of Audience Councils) , became an influential voice in media policy. It demands for more participatory structures in PSM and in media regulation and introduces new perspectives to the otherwise rather corporatist media system, as well as co-determination. The initiative was founded in 2013 after the household licence fee was established by Christine Horz and Sabine Schiffer, who perceive the blog as a public science project to address the user as a citizen and establish media policy issues within a broader public.