The tabloid has undercut itself again in reports on the Solingen killing. Why is it still getting interviews from politicians?
Press spokesman of the Wuppertal police talking to a "Bild" reporter in Solingen, the day after Photo: Otto Krschak/imago
The term "widow shaking" stands for the basest tabloid journalism: bereaved families are badgered by journalists until they cough up heartbreaking details and touching photos. Bild has just managed to undercut this practice. In Solingen, where last week a woman allegedly killed five of her children and then tried to commit suicide, Bild reporters shook down not a widow but a child.
The editorial published private Whatsapp messages on Friday, which the only surviving child is said to have written to a friend after hearing about the death of his siblings. RTL also interviewed this friend – a 12-year-old. Shortly after a quintuple murder. How brutal do you have to be to conduct an interview like that? Is there no one in these editorial offices with decency, empathy and professional honor? What do the reporters hope to learn? What is the public interest? In wallowing in cruelty?
The press code stipulates that the identity of victims, especially children, should be protected. That there should be no sensational reporting; that special restraint should be exercised in researching vulnerable people; that detailed accounts of suicides should not be published. Now. One of the texts of Bild is called; "She set the breakfast table, then she suffocated her children", accompanied by a wedding photo of the mother.
By reporting on catastrophes, the press code also says, victims should not be made victims for the second time. But what happens to an eleven-year-old whose siblings were killed and whose desperate Whatsapp messages appear in the Bild newspaper? Julian Reichelt, Bild’s editor-in-chief, becomes emotional when he recounts the great human suffering he has seen as a war reporter. He apparently doesn’t mind that his newspaper regularly magnifies human suffering.
The time of "Bild" is over
Bild has since deleted the text with the Whatsapp messages and the tweet about it. The video "In front of the door are still the shoes of the dead children" with a photo of the shoe rack is still online. It’s not the first time Bild has exploited the fate of dead children, and it won’t be the last. Despite all this, Bild is still at the top of the game, getting exclusive interviews with celebrities and politicians.
This has to stop. Everyone should boycott this paper: Readers, by not spending money on it, journalists, at Bild or Springer, by looking for another job. Companies, by not placing any ads there, and politicians, by no longer giving interviews to the paper.
This doesn’t even hurt: The newspaper’s circulation is plummeting. The days when politicians needed Bild to govern, as Gerhard Schroder claimed, are long gone. Bild’s time is, too.