German television broadcast a six-minute report on recent events at German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) on Wednesday last week.
Su Yutong, a blogger and freelancer who was removed from DW’s Chinese department on August 19, was in the German news on Wednesday – in a broadcast on one of Germany’s main two television channels, a media background magazine that starts about fourty minutes before midnight German local time. Asked by Channel 1 (ARD / Das Erste) reporters why Su had been fired, Deutsche Welle director Peter Limbourg said that
This was a single case when we had to had to disassociate with a freelancer who, unfortunately, became active against Deutsche Welle several times and who, to put it carefully, depicted staff and colleagues and managers at Deutsche Welle publicly in a, let’s put it cautiously, dishonarable*) way. That, I think, we can’t afford, just as no company worldwide can afford, and therefore, we drew the consequence in a single case.
Das war ein Einzelfall, wo wir uns von einer freien Mitarbeiterin trennen mussten, die leider mehrfach gegen die Deutsche Welle aktiv wurde und Mitarbeiter und Kollegen und Führungskräfte der Deutschen Welle öffentlich, sagen wir es mal vorsichtig, ehrverletzend dargestellt hat. Das können wir uns, glaube ich, wie kein anderes Unternehmen auf der Welt, eben auch nicht leisten, und insofern haben wir da im Einzelfall die Konsequenz gezogen.
Interestingly, Limbourg did not say that Su had revealed internal information – or ARD didn’t quote him with that during the six-minutes report.
Peter von Hein, former head of the Chinese department (after a return to this position in 2012, he has now once again been removed) had been critical of Deutsche Welle’s new China policy, too. Different from Su Yutong, however, he had voiced his reservations within the organisation, says the report.
Limbourg was asked critical questions about DW’s planned cooperation with China’s state television broadcaster CCTV, and it was also reported that Meinhard-Jörg Rudolph, referred to as a former “program observer” at DW, had to leave one month after Limbourg had taken office. Also asked his opinion, he warned that DW was becoming dependent on China.
That, apparently, would cut too closely to the arteries of industrial relations within German media.
*) There seem to be many translations on offer for the German word ehrverletzend, and neither may fit exactly judicially, in a foreign language. Literally, dishonerable seems to come closest.