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Talking Germany

Blog with Peter Craven

Talking opportunity and injustice with Dirk Jacobs

Or: Mind the gap!
The main newsroom at DW TV is a pretty intense place. You see presenters talking on the phone to correspondents in the field, producers making last-minute decisions about how to deal with the latest item of breaking news, and, of course, many different languages being spoken. Foremost among them, our main broadcast languages: German, Spanish, Arabic and English. When I anchor our main news program, the Journal, I regularly find myself sitting across from the popular German presenter Dirk Jacobs – my latest guest on Talking Germany.
We often chat, mainly about sports – and soccer in particular – because Dirk has an excellent track record as a sports reporter. In fact, when I ask what the best things about Germany are, his answer is quick: “The political system and Borussia Dortmund football club!” More on Borussia in a moment. First though, the political system: “Well, it’s a functioning democracy,” says Dirk. “One important aspect of which is that people have opportunities.” But surely, I counter, there’s plenty of evidence for a growing wealth gap? Evidence that German is less egalitarian than we long thought?
“That’s right. And that’s one reason why I support a minimum wage.” It’s a central issue in the run-up to September’s national election. How much, I wonder, should the base rate be? “Eight euros fifty. Does that put me on the left? I don’t know. It’s not easy talking about left and right these days.” One thing Dirk does know for sure: “Injustice makes me angry. And dishonesty. And something else, too … neo-Nazis.” It’s another major issue here in Germany. One that continues to haunt Germany’s democracy.
This preoccupation with social justice is undoubtedly closely linked to the fact that home for Dirk is Dortmund. It’s a city, and a region, that have seen hard times in recent years. Years of painful industrial decline. But the local soccer club, Borussia Dortmund, have certainly warmed people’s hearts this season. Dirk, though, will be sad to hear that Mario Goetze, one of the team’s outstanding talents, is leaving the club for the significantly richer Bayern Munich. I can almost hear him complaining: “It’s not just, it’s not fair!” But who said life, or football, is just or fair?


April 29, 2013