For some time, I have not only been working with DIE WELT, the German newspaper, but I have also been working for N24, the national news channel that our holding company Axel Springer bought in December 2013. Mergers are never easy and so it has taken a while for the integration of DIE WELT and N24 to make some progress.
In Berlin, they are currently working on a new, joint website. My colleagues at DIE WELT often times comment on trending developments not only for our print and online edition, but also for N24. On Thursday, I received further proof that the integration has entered a new stage and that we are getting closer to becoming a truly multimedia outlet that provides content for all channels – print, online, mobile and TV. Unfortunately, it was a very sad incident that provided that insight.
Just after 4 PM in the afternoon, I was on the phone with an interview partner, when a colleague from N24 called and asked whether I could do a live on the attack on Labour MP Jo Cox? I hadn’t followed the story and had to get myself prepared within a very short amount of time. Some fifteen minutes later, the first live started. I answered the most pressing questions and thought I was done. But no. The phone rang again and again. In the end, I did five lives for N24 – an indication that the merger between WELT and N24 is not only working in Germany but also abroad.
The incident itself is really shocking. Apparently, Jo Cox, a 41-year old mother of two, was stabbed and shot when she interfered in a scuffle in her constituency in West Yorkshire. A 52-year old man shot her several times, reportedly at least once close to the face. According to witnesses, he shouted “Britain first” before that. Cox was known to be an ardent supporter of Britain’s continued membership in the EU. Only on Wednesday, she took part in a boat demonstration on the Thames, waving a flag for Remain.
At this point, we don’t know whether the attack was politically motivated or not and whether there is any connection to the upcoming EU-referendum. Both sides, the Leave- and the Remain side, cancelled their campaigning for the rest of the day. Also on Friday and Saturday, there will be no campaigning for the EU-referendum. Leading politicians, including David Cameron, George Osborne, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage, have taken to Twitter to utter their condolences and their sympathies for Cox’s family.
With only seven days to go, reporting the referendum is obviously getting much more difficult. It will be easy to draw the wrong conclusions after this incident. Let’s hope that journalists do their job properly and check the facts before they report.