Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann advises media to have more substance instead of a shell

Substance instead of shell: This is what Johann Schneider-Ammann called for in Lucerne on Thursday. The role of the critical media is to look behind the facades, said the Federal Councilor. Publisher President Pietro Supino made a plea for a free press.


Schneider-Ammann kicked off the 8th Swiss Media Forum at the KKL Lucerne, and he did it in French: "Mes chers malades," the economy minister began, reciting part of his infamous Sick Day speech, which he said earned him his 15 minutes of fame in 2016. He had not been the darling of the media, said the magistrate, who announced his resignation on Tuesday, in a speech peppered with self-mockery. Conversely, he said, he has always remained a lover of the media - his day starts early in the morning with reading the newspaper.

Although he was disappointed by articles from time to time, he respected journalists in their work. But he has always been aware of the tensions between publishers and media professionals.

"Only those who stay relevant get paid"

So he now makes a plea for the media in transition to get back to the core task of their work. "Only to the media does the cover sometimes seem more important than the substance," he said. Big talk is accepted for full and diversionary tactics, he said. Professional media should focus more consistently on the core of their raison d'être if they want to stay relevant, he said. "Only those who stay relevant get paid." He said this focus is sometimes missing in the arbitrariness between "infotainment and newsbombing."

In an interview with moderator Susanne Wille, Schneider-Ammann also commented on his resignation and that of his colleague Doris Leuthard. The double resignation had not been planned. Asked whether he would like to see a woman as his successor, he let it slip that this would suit the FDP well.

Krishna Bharat, the founder of Google News, made an appearance at the forum, which runs until Friday and is attended by around 400 people. Various discussion panels were also devoted to topics such as the financing of good journalism, cybersecurity in the media and advertising in the digital transformation.

"Crisis of the media makers"

At the general meeting of the Swiss Media Association, which was held as part of the Media Congress in Lucerne, publisher president and Tamedia publisher Pietro Supino made a plea for the independence of the media. According to the text of his speech, Supino said that new forms of media use were eroding traditional business models.

Some of those affected and observers paint a gloomy picture. However, he did not want to speak of a media crisis, but rather of a "crisis of the media makers. There are fears that media can no longer perform their important function in terms of democratic politics, Supino said. "And there are calls for government help."

But before looking for new forms of media funding, the "absurd postal dispute" should be resolved, he demanded. The Post, which distributes the newspapers, is using its monopoly to charge the costs to the newspaper companies, he said. It was endangering the future of subscribed newspapers, he said.


"Ultima ratio"

The publisher president also criticized the draft for the new law on electronic media: "A law in its present form would be harmful." Even the designation seems contradictory, he said. "There are no media today that are not also electronic." For the independence of the media, Supino said, any form of direct media subsidy poses a risk. "It should therefore remain ultima ratio." (SDA)

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