tünews INTERNATIONAL: Almost like the FAZ for refugees

By Wolfgang Sannwald
“So this is practically a national newspaper, like the FAZ.” Baden-Württemberg’s Minister President Winfried Kretschmann did not shy away from big names during his editorial visit to tünews INTERNATIONAL on 16 August 2022, drawing a comparison with the renowned German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. With so much flattery, I could only smile: “Yes, exactly the right comparison, Mr Kretschmann …” However, six more follow-up questions from the head of the Baden-Württemberg government conveyed that we need to explain tünews INTERNATIONAL better. What makes tünews INTERNATIONAL tick cannot simply be described by comparisons, not even by a comparison with the FAZ.
I presented our media company tünews INTERNATIONAL in more detail to Kretschmann. It produces daily online news in German, English, Arabic and Persian, and since July 2022 also some in Ukrainian. About five million hits on the homepage per year show, in my opinion, that we serve the needs of many refugees with our concept: Those members of the editorial team who have fled to Germany themselves name concrete questions and topics that are currently important for their everyday lives and those of their acquaintances. Together with journalist coaches, they research these questions and ask authorities such as the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) or the Federal Employment Agency (BfA) or consumer associations. The selection of trustworthy sources is a guiding principle and basis for journalism. Brigitte Gisel, journalist coach at tünews, told Kretschmann that finding reliable sources is currently a major challenge on some Ukraine issues. Refugees and journalist coaches write news stories based on the research. Editorial staff members then translate these news items into the four or five languages.
Speaking of paper newspapers, Kretschmann was also interested in whether tünews INTERNATIONAL appears exclusively online. In 2015, we were indeed still posting local and national information on wall newspapers in refugee shelters. Then Corona 2020 changed tünews INTERNATIONAL permanently. I was in the home office from 15 March, most of my colleagues from the editorial team were also in lockdown at home. Within two weeks, we rebuilt our homepage with our administrator Ademola Adetunji, and the first current news appeared online after two days. In two months we already counted 400,000 hits on www.tuenews.de.
I explained to the Prime Minister: “We knew that there are now many people who, just like us, have to process a flood of information about Corona and then in a foreign language. We wanted to help them.” Since then, we have been disseminating four to twelve self-produced contents per day via the internet. That is daily journalism. Almost all of the hits on the reports come via Google search. To the prime minister: “If you enter an Arabic term from this everyday area in Google, there is a very good chance that tünews will be ranked first.” We also disseminate information via the INTEGREAT app to over 25 cities, towns and districts. On social media, we use Facebook so far. For Ukraine, Instagram is now required, our two Ukrainian editors made clear.
Kretschmann asked several times and learned that we are not just a “local newspaper”, but a “total for refugees”. In fact, we write and publish news about when the foreigners’ office in Rottenburg changes its opening hours. Such a news item usually has about 3000 hits in Arabic. This shows us roughly the extent of the clientele here, because the topic is of no interest to anyone in Dortmund or elsewhere. But we also publish a lot of information with a more general message. The demand for this is much greater and we recognize an interest that is at least nationwide. A second focus of our publications are cultural topics with which we want to promote mutual acquaintance and thus understanding for each other. We call these contributions reportages. They have an even wider reach. When our colleague Youssef Kanjou, for example, writes about the museums in Aleppo and what it looks like there now, it generates calls worldwide in the Arabic-speaking world or even in the USA and high call-up values.
The Prime Minister continued: “It’s more like dpa, this news agency. Is that more how I have to imagine it?” The German Press Agency (dpa) provides editorial offices with journalistically prepared information. However, this comparison also fits only partially: “Exactly: dpa, but with a specialisation in information relevant to everyday life, which we know about: These are the topics that people need, that are in demand. We do our own research and write our own articles. But we also disseminate it ourselves. In that respect, it’s a bit different from dpa.”
Kretschmann was also interested in our efforts to provide neutral information: “If this is, so to speak, opinion-free journalism: There are also no comments?” I could confirm that, we do without opinion articles. We interpret other needs in our readers: They want useful information for their everyday lives. We want to continue to give them that at tünews INTERNATIONAL. We do not have commentaries, but at most editorials like this one. With these texts, we want to make processes within the editorial team public and explain ourselves. Even if this is sometimes not easy, despite honourable comparisons.



Ministerpräsident Winfried Kretschmann zu Besuch bei der Redaktion von tünews INTERNATIONAL im Landratsamt Tübingen. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Mostafa Elyasian.




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