Future of Democracy Mediating Populism 2018 | Sophie Gaston, Peter Harris-Evans, Philipp Sälhoff, Joris Niggemeier

In the febrile contemporary political climates of many Western democracies, journalists have been increasingly seen as part of the political story rather than simply its narrators. Insurgent ‘populist’ political movements have placed major media organisations at the centre of their anti-establishment critique, while opposing forces have posited ‘media complicity’ in the promotion of divisive discourses and populist misinformation. All the while, traditional media organisations are being rocked by deep structural and technological change that is fundamentally shifting the practice of journalism and changing their relationship with an increasingly sceptical and polarised public.
While much has been written and discussed about the media’s role in the ‘populist turn’ in Western democracies, the actual experience of journalists in responding to these turbulent political times has been little explored. The following analysis, therefore, aims to foreground the perspectives of print, broadcast, and online journalists working in the UK – and to contrast these against the experiences of the German media, through a case study prepared by Das Progressive Zentrum in Berlin.
In selecting these countries, we assess how the evolution of journalism practice has played out in two quite distinct media and political systems, particularly through a focus on two unique recent operating contexts: the European Referendum in the UK and the refugee and migrant crisis in Germany. We explore the extent to which traditional norms of journalistic practice share natural affinities with populist politics and discourses, and ask in what ways can journalists be better supported and equipped to critically engage with divisive political movements in the digital age.

Download the Executive Summary here

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Discussion Paper Transforming Not Digitizing. Germanys Path to Digital Democracy 2017 | Laura Kristine-Krause
20 December 2017 | Laura-Kristine Krause

Liberal democracies in Europe and beyond are facing challenges, and so does the German democracy. In the debate on how to strengthen and revive democracy, digitalisation of the political sphere is predominantly seen as a threat to democratic discourse and not as an opportunity in Germany.
In this Discussion Paper Laura-Kristine Krause addresses the source of this paradox and offers a concept of digital democracy as a combination of the dimensions information, participation and transformation.
In urging to see digitalisation as a process reaching beyond the digitalisation of former analogue processes, it lays out four paths towards implementing and seising the opportunities of digital democracy in Germany.
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About the author
Laura-Kristine Krause is Head of the Programme “Future of Democracy” at Das Progressive Zentrum, a Berlin-based, independent think tank. Previously, she worked as a public affairs consultant in Berlin, focusing on the digital and financial sector. She is Co-Chair-woman of the grassroots think tank D64 – Center for Digital Progress and fellow of the 2017 Transatlantic Digital Debates. She published on digital policy, party reform, and women in politics.
About the Democracy Lab of Das Progressive Zentrum
The Democracy Lab is the platform for projects on innovating democracy at Das Progressive Zentrum. The Lab hosts, fosters, and connects projects that generate ideas and practical approaches on how to innovate liberal democracy and to enable political actors and institutions. The projects span different disciplines, countries, and regions and are realised in cooperation with a multitude of partner organizations.
The Democracy Lab deals with questions of digital democracy in the context of the project “Democracy 2025 – Democratic innovations for a changing society”, funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth as part of the federal programme “Demokratie leben!”