Tagesschau vs. arte Journal — A Comparison

The 8pm instalment of ARD Tagesschau must be Germany’s most popular television news programme. It is certainly my primary source for news if I want to get a quick and reliable overview on world events. But it does sometimes seem to have a somewhat narrow view on which parts of the world are newsworthy — the focus being mostly on Germany, America and then the rest of the world. To see if this impression holds up, I compared three 9pm Tagesschau shows to three evening editions of arte Journal, which proclaims to approach news from a more international perspective. The shows I compared aired on the 28., 29., and 30. January.

In general, both news programmes are very much alike in how they choose their top stories. Firmly adopting a focus on the western world, it is impossible to escape the ever present new outrages Trump produces. The run up for the elections in Germany and France are also heavily covered.

But looking at the programmes in more detail, important differences can be found. After the top stories are done, Tagesschau usually has one or two domestic stories before changing to sports, lottery and the weather. This is when arte Journal actually starts to be at its most interesting, because it then starts to report about stories that are usually overlooked. Sometimes these stories are about areas of the world that are not powerful enough to be deemed newsworthy, or arte Journal looks at ongoing conflicts that are highly relevant, but without immediate developments that would cause a greater news coverage from other news outlets. For example, arte Journal aired segments on the murder of a Muslim government adviser in Myanmar, shedding light on religious and ethnic tensions within the country. Another segment was on the recent resurge of leprosy infections in India that goes widely unnoticed internationally. Reports on cultural events also feature prominently, taking the role of finishing the news on a lighter note, like sports does in Tagesschau. The differences in how Tagesschau and arte Journal approach news can probably best illustrated in how they covered the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. arte Journal reported about the conflict in its own right, looking at both the separatist and the Ukrainian side, illustrating how the war affects young people’s ideology. Tagesschau, in contrast, only mentioned the Ukrainian war as an aside when reporting on Poroschenko’s visit to Berlin, when a link to Germany made it relevant.

So while Tagesschau is still great for getting an overview on major events that mostly relate to Germany or the west, it misses a lot of interesting international developments. So if you want to get a broader understanding of what is happening in the world (the world not mainly meaning the west), it is absolutely worth it taking a look at smaller news formats like arte Journal. Chances are they give you the relevant top stories as well and then even top them off with less spectacular, but more nuanced and insightful reports .

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