Podcasts, news, apps – the internet offers extraordinary opportunities to get up to speed and get involved in politics – Berlin political scientist Tobias Kremkau puts few tools available in Germany under the microscope.
The best portals for giving you a political overview
Are you frustrated that “the guys at the top” get to decide everything over your head? Do you feel the need to get active in politics on the net? That’s great, because your involvement strengthens democracy. An increasing number of people are beginning to see things like you, and are using the opportunities that the internet provides. Among them is Tobias, a digital democrat. A specialist who knows his way around the news jungle, he shows us around his five favorite platforms designed to help you keep up with the news.
Visitors to piqd.de will find handpicked journalism on such topics as “Climate and Change,” “Europe,” “Body and Mind,” “Love, Sex and Us” and many more. At the heart of piqd are around 130 thoughtful people who do the homework for you. The aim of piqd is to leverage relevant, high-quality articles to a wider public, and so make a contribution to enlightening the general public.
“We refuse to believe that the internet was created just so that people could disappear into their filter bubbles, so that opinion monopolies should begin to form, or so that only the people who shout the loudest get to be heard.” That’s how Felix Friedrich sums up the motivation of thebuzzard’s founders. thebuzzard.org is the place to go if you want to take a look at current debates from a variety of perspectives. Its young team of journalists and political scientists provides recommendations articles grappling with current hot topics from all camps.
correctiv.org pursues the goal of helping to ensure that the public are well-informed. The site’s workers are convinced that democracy can’t prosper without strong journalism. But high-quality journalism is coming under increasing pressure as news becomes available everywhere free of charge. That news often comes from contributors unconcerned about objectivity or professional distance, or even from people deliberately disseminating fake news. Funded by donations, the CORRECTIV foundation tries to uncover such inflictions and to make complex issues comprehensible through high-quality reporting. Since the beginning of 2019 CORRECTIV has been uncovering fake news on its correctiv.org/checkjetzt page.
CARTA is yet another actor on the net committed to high-quality journalism. The Carta blog, which recently won the Grimme Prize for online journalism, provides well-researched texts on politics, culture and business, as well as on digital and theoretical topics. Its authors, who come from the world of politics, culture, science and the media, provide their work free of charge. Carta places a high value on independence, and has become one of the most important platforms for political feature articles on the German-speaking internet.
Stay well-informed on the go with these five political podcasts
There are a variety of excellent podcasts available on socially relevant topics that can give both political "beginners" and pundits an easy and entertaining overview of such topics. Tobias shares his favorite podcasts.
Raus aus der Filterblase
Is the idea behind Hartz IV a good one? Is there any need for the SPD any longer? Would introducing a speed limit on the Autobahns do any good? On far too many debates we have already arrived at an established opinion, and tempers can quickly rise whenever the subject comes up. With their Raus aus der Filterblase (“Get out of the filter bubble”) podcast, the people behind thebuzzard have created a show that tackles highly controversial topics and discusses them rationally rather than merely insisting on being in the right. A successful format that helps listeners to broaden their horizons.
In Tanja Hille and Vincent Venus’ podcast, Y Politik, they provide new suggestions and general food for thought on matters political, with all their consequences. According to their own blurb, they’re “not neutral, never perfect, but yet always optimistic.”
Produced directly out of Deutschlandfunk’s Berlin studio, the Politikpodcast provides hearty food for anyone who wants to get down into the detail.
Die Lage der Nation
Journalist Philip Banse and lawyer and campaigner Ulf Buermeyer put current political topics under the microscope in their weekly podcast Lage der Nation (“State of the nation”).
People who’ve stopped reading the news because they’re sick of the negative headlines have come to the right place. In his podcast, Nike Wessel talks to heroes, visionaries and lateral thinkers, going with her listeners on an inspiring journey into a better future.
Get into the mix!
An ever increasing number of people are now refusing to depend on the politicians they vote for, and are getting active on the internet for their own wants and goals. Here’s an overview of the best tools to help you get involved.
The first port of call in Germany for submitting your own e-petition or signing someone else’s is the Deutsche Bundestag’s own epetitionen.bundestag.de platform. If an e-petition manages to attract 50,000 signatures within the space of four weeks, then the petitions subcommittee of the parliament is obliged to debate the specific question at issue. An ever increasing number of people are also beginning to use non-government portals like openpetition.de, avaaz.org, campact.de and change.org. It is also possible to present online petitions at European level.
Abgeordnetenwatch (“Parliamentarian watch”) is an independent internet platform through which you can publicly ask questions and check up on the views of members of the Bundestag. The project thus not only fulfils the goal of achieving more transparency and participation in politics, but also increases the pressure on parliamentarians to answer for their actions to their voters.
Frag den Staat
Open knowledge foundation fragdenstaat.de aims to improve transparency within government ministries and public authorities for all citizens, and to help individuals exercise their right to freedom of information. Just can submit a question and the project will pass the query onto the relevant public body and then pass the response back to you as soon as the body provides it. All responses are published on the platform. Wherever necessary, the project will take public bodies to court to secure greater transparency. For example, they recently brought LMBV, a state-owned lignite group with a market value in the billions of euros, to court to force it to report a range of environmental information to the public on a regular basis in future. The efforts of the project to produce more transparency is also an important internet tool in the ongoing struggle against corruption.