“Now more than ever”

“Now more than ever”
The Tagesspiegel questions the discernment of its readers

Dear Sebastian Leber,

In your article from the 5th of March 2021, you describe statements made by the guests of the programme Narrative as “confused theses”. As a German citizen, it is of course your right to do so. However, as media professionals, we see it as our task to provide people with the information and perspectives that can help them to compare different points of view. We are therefore troubled that you, Mr Leber, seem to criticise us for precisely this. In your article, you claim implicitly that representatives of the media should preselect perspectives in order to present them to viewers in a suggestively organised manner. This is often trivially referred to as “categorising”. However, we at OVALmedia believe that our viewers are quite capable of evaluating information themselves, as long as they are aware of enough perspectives. Rather unfortunately, Mr Leber, it seems that you do not believe that the readers of the Tagesspiegel are capable of this. As I said, we see it differently.

Allow me to give you an overview of what we do. Of the 40 or so guests who have appeared in our Narrative programme so far, most hold a professorship and in many cases one or two doctorates. I have had conversations with the founder of the World Health Summit, Prof. Dr. Detlev Ganten, the director of the Institute for Epidemiology at the Charité, Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth, the head of the investigative committee on the “swine flu pandemic” at the Council of Europe and former member of the health committee of the Bundestag, Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, with artists like Andrej Hermlin, economists like Prof. Dr. Sylvia Kreiss and many, many others. I ask you Mr. Leber, what could possibly be the harm in listening to the views and experiential knowledge of these experts?

In our programmes, both supporters and critics of the corona measures have their say, a fact which is perfectly demonstrated by the two-and-a-half-hour debate between Prof. Kurth and Dr. Wodarg. People critical of the measures appear more frequently in our formats however, for two main reasons: first of all, they accept our invitations more often; and secondly, we consider it our duty to promote pluralism. Unfortunately, the current situation is such that most of the larger media outlets predominantly and unquestioningly put forth the governmentally-approved narratives. In order to protect democratic debate spaces despite all this, we at OVALmedia strive to bring underrepresented perspectives to light.
Narrative is a programme which aims to debate the narratives that shape our collective reality. This is precisely because we are fascinated by the many different interpretations of reality, including yours, Mr. Leber. As such, we hereby invite you once again to be a guest on Narrative. Whilst you unfortunately declined our first invitation, we would be delighted if this time you took us up on our offer.

Due to our interest in an open-ended social debate, we are also acting as a service provider for the Corona Committee. OVALmedia films the meetings of the Corona Committee and thus enables their publication. Even though we are not responsible for the content of the committee meetings, we do believe that the committee’s work makes an important contribution to a democratic culture of debate. The facts, perspectives and the assessments derived from them that are discussed in the Corona Committee do not always have to be to everyone’s tastes, but it is an expression of democratic culture to allow and discuss opinions that one does not necessarily share.

It is also democratic to criticise the government and thus act as a corrective in the political process. Both should be encouraged by media professionals. If a newspaper, a programme, a film or any other format was to obediently submit themselves to the general discourse and fade out existing contradictions, they would make themselves superfluous. All the projects we have produced thus far have therefore dedicated themselves to creating space for new perspectives.

Take for example, our Berlinale entry this year. A pas aveugles portrays the courage of prisoners who risked their lives to take photos in concentration camps and labour camps during the Nazi era. The film conveys the message that victims of the Nazi regime could also be heroes. The cult film Pianomania,, portrays musical creation from the perspective of a piano tuner and was successfully shown in cinemas and on television in over 100 countries around the world. Fuck Fame follows a successful female rapper’s attempts to quit the music industry and thereby turning ‘Germany’s got Talent’ upside down. The science documentary Ekelhaft Gesund (Disgustingly Healthy) focusses on alternative approaches in medicine, namely how maggots can clean wounds, and so on.

With all these projects, OVALmedia wants to build bridges between completely different people. For 22 years we have stood against exclusion of any kind. We are firmly against racism, against anti-Semitism and stand for respectful interaction between people.

We believe in freedom of expression. We would never think to destroy the livelihood of other media professionals by damaging their reputation, and yet this is exactly what you have tried to do with your article about OVALmedia. In our 22-year history as a company, we have never been subjected to such slanderous accusations, simply because we have remained true to the principles that should apply to all members of the media. You can tell if someone is serious about their principles by the way they uphold them even when it goes against popular opinion.
Now more than ever, we will provide people with the information they need to form their democratic opinions.

I stand by the words of my colleague Hanns Joachim Friedrichs: “You can recognise a good journalist by the fact that he does not make himself common with a cause, not even with a good cause; that he is everywhere, but does not belong anywhere.”

With best regards,

Robert Cibis

Note: Today, on the 23.03.2021, the prologue of our comprehensive documentary on the current corona crisis is released: “CORONA.FILM – Prologue”
http://corfilm.com/thankyou (€1 with 48 hour access)
http://corfilm.com/thankyousomuch (€7 with 1 week access)
http://corfilm.com/youareamazing (€25 with UNLIMITED access)