German police want to crack down on press passes for unapproved journalists in case they they are undercover Nazis, or leftist agitators.
In Essen Germany police are taking a hard look at the credentials of journalists who report on the frequent protests for and against the governments handling of the migrant crisis, reports Die Welt. The internet has led to an explosion in online journalism where anyone with a smartphone can capture footage of violence by police or protesters at events. The police are accusing many journalists who write both online and freelance for various outlets of actually being undercover nazi, or leftist sympathizers who only use the protests to further a political agenda.
A press pass often means a journalist can go through police barriers between protests and counter protests to cover all sides of the story. A spokesman for the Dortmund police said, “it has been known for some time that not only ‘real journalists’ have a press pass but people from extremist areas try to legitimize themselves with them. These people, in no small part from the extreme right, also get the press passes from the internet.”
Police told of how the extremists, armed with press passes, would manipulate the situation at a protest. “They would try to leave the police cordon to get closer to their political opponents. Then they take pictures and videos of the opposition, it is a provocation, and they are trying to undermine police separation,” said the spokesman.
Munich police spokesman Werner Kraus is joining with police in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund and Berlin and calling for a national press ID for all journalists to make sure none of them are secret extremists. “It would be ideal if again we would have an official ID, real one proof is that someone is working as a journalist. Then the officials know with whom they are dealing with.” Up until 2008 all German media were required to have an official press badge but due to the rise of online journalism the government scrapped the government issued passes.
A press pass in Germany isn’t a terribly difficult or expensive thing to get hold of. Companies like GNS press offer a pass for a yearly fee of about 127 euros. There is no requirement that the person applying must have credentials from an established media source and the company says on their site, “what kind of journalism you do or want to do you don’t have to prove,” to encourage more citizen journalists and freelancers to get involved and of course to sell more press passes. The card GNS provides a number of discounts on hotels, and other benefits for journalists.
Critics who call the mainstream press the “lying press” like PEGIDA leader Lutz Bachmann will no doubt disagree with the police. Bachmann and others often accuse mainstream media of covering up stories which has been proven true in places like Sweden where media is accused of obscuring migrant crime for years and others who tried to cover up the identities of the migrants who committed the mass sexual assaults on New Years Eve in Cologne as Breitbart has reported.