Scientists slam German tabloid’s pandemic coverage

Health

People queue in front of a vaccination center to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in Duesseldorf, Germany, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

BERLIN (AP) — A group representing Germany’s main scientific organizations has accused the country’s biggest-selling newspaper of contributing to public hostility against scientists during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement Monday, the Alliance of Scientific Organization criticized a recent report by the Bild tabloid for singling out three researchers who had called for tougher restrictions to reduce COVID-19 infections in Germany.

The paper published pictures of the three scientists Saturday with the headline “Trio of experts give us frustration for the holidays.” It came days after German federal and state officials agreed to tighten existing restrictions, particularly for unvaccinated people, amid a surge of new cases.

The alliance said making it seem like the three researchers personally were responsible for unpopular measures could “easily contribute to a climate of opinion that has elsewhere already led to scientists being subjected to or threatened with physical or psychological violence.”

It said fact-based reporting and debate would be preferable and more effective.

Publisher Axel Springer, which owns Bild, said it understood the criticism and took it seriously.

“Scientists deserve our respect,” the company said in a statement. “Criticism of scientists and their proposal must be possible, but it should always be done in an appropriate way,” it said, adding that this was true also for Bild.

U.S. investment firm KKR holds a large stake in Axel Springer.

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