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AfD to open its own newsroom

David Martin with dpa, AFP
February 9, 2018

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is planning a massive communications expansion as it takes aim at the German mainstream media landscape. The party will seek to build on its social media successes.

The AfD on Facebook
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. May

Germany's populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party will on Saturday announce plans to set up a television studio in its Berlin offices and employ up 20 new communications staff.

According to advanced excerpts of a report slated to be published in full in Saturday's edition of German news magazine Focus, the AfD is looking to bypass Germany's mainstream media landscape and build on its successes in communicating directly to the public. The far-right party is reportedly looking to launch the service in April.

Read more: Germany's populist AfD seeks to turn online 'censorship' to its advantage

"As long as the AfD is ignored by many media or is belittled with targeted 'fake news,' this can be the only way," Focus quoted AfD leader Alice Weidel as saying.

The AfD newsroom staff members are expected to work in shifts round the clock, with three members dedicated to research and spotting topics that Weidel alleges "are swept under the carpet." These are to be "cleaned up journalistically and edited for the public."

The far-right party entered the Bundestag for the first time last year after it picked up almost 13 percent of the vote in September's federal election, finishing third nationwide. It is therefore set to become the main opposition party in the German parliament, given the decision taken on Wednesday by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the Social Democrats to form a grand coalition. 

Campaigning in the modern age

The AfD will seek to leverage its significant presence on social media to disseminate its messages.

Around a month before the election, it emerged that the populist party had commissioned Harris Media, the consultancy group that worked on projects for US President Donald Trump's campaign during the Republican primaries.

A subsequent Oxford University study published shortly before the federal election found that the populist party drove almost one-third of all political Twitter traffic, more than any other party and more even than nonpartisan discussion. 

Since then, however, the party has fallen foul of Germany's new hate speech laws. Leading AfD figure Beatrix von Storch was one of the first people to be hit by the new regulations. After Cologne police tweeted New Year's greetings and linked to safety information in a number of different languages, including Arabic, von Storch took to social media to accuse the authorities of appeasing "barbaric, gang-raping hordes of Muslim men." Her account was subsequently suspended for 12 hours.