What can you say about journalists these days

Press law: what journalists are allowed to do

The fact that freedom of opinion, freedom of information and freedom of the press are very important in a democratic state can be seen from the fact that they are anchored in the Basic Law. Everyone therefore has the right to freely express and disseminate his or her opinion in words, in writing and in pictures. But these freedoms can be restricted when it comes to protecting a right that is at least as important as, for example, a person's personal rights.

Personal rights

Everyone has a right to the fact that their private life and privacy are particularly protected. The intimate sphere includes the home, the innermost thoughts and feelings that are not intended for the public, or the love life. A journalist is not allowed to report on these things unless the person concerned expressly agrees.

However, it is also clear that this right cannot always be fully unrestricted. After all, the press and radio have the task of reporting on anything freely and without censorship - provided it is in the public's interest. That is why there are exceptions here - for example in the case of “people from the field of contemporary history”. These are people who have influenced current events in one way or another and have therefore made it public, such as politicians, actors or well-known athletes.

In these cases, it is important to weigh up what is more important: the personal rights of the person concerned or the public's interest in a corresponding reporting.

Right to your own picture

The right to one's own image also belongs to the protection of personal rights. Everyone can decide for themselves whether and how a photo of them is published. Journalists are therefore not allowed to simply photograph everything and everyone and then publish the picture without asking. First they need the consent of the person concerned. This consent can also take the form of the person posing in front of the journalist's camera and deliberately allowing himself to be photographed. In general, journalists should always be sure and ask whether and where the images may appear. Incidentally, this law applies not only to photos, but also to drawings and film recordings.

But here too there are exceptions: no consent is required from people from the field of contemporary history - if they are shown in connection with an event of public interest and the private area remains protected.

The publication of pictures of a certain place where the person can only be seen marginally as a so-called “accessory” is also allowed. It is also handled at meetings, for example at a carnival parade or a demonstration.


Anyone who takes a photo, shoots a film, writes a text or a song automatically becomes the creator who has created an “intellectual work”. The copyright law states that only the author can determine what happens to his work. This is to prevent your own work from being simply used or put into another context without being asked.

In general, radio or television reports, texts, photos, films or drawings may not be published without the consent of the author.

That was a little glimpse into the complex legal system of journalism. There are other aspects, such as journalistic due diligence, the disclosure of secret information, the prohibition of surreptitious advertising or the right to quote.