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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Worries about the future: Grim in Grimme’s future

The Grimme Institute is in financial crisis. The jury members fear job cuts and an end to the prize.

TV character Bernd the bread.

Damn! Bernd das Brot wasn’t even in a good mood when he won the Grimme Prize in 2004 Photo: Michael Sohn/ap

Because of the financial situation of the Grimme Institute Members of the jury and the commission contact the institute sponsors. They fear a third of the jobs will be cut and the price will go away.

The Grimme Institute just celebrated its 50th anniversary. The television award, for which Grimme is best known, has even been around for nine years. Among this year’s award winners are Jan Böhmermann for “ZDF Magazine Royale” and Sandmännchen. The institute is popular; at the anniversary ceremony, NRW Media Minister Nathanael Liminski praised Grimme as a “seal of quality for the quality of media offerings”.

But no one is in a celebratory mood because the members of the nomination committee and the juries are worried about the institute’s difficult financial situation. “A third of the jobs in the institute should be eliminated,” write the signatories of a letter to the institute’s sponsors. Former and current taz editors who are part of the jury also signed it. In addition to the job losses, the signatories fear that the institute will soon no longer be able to fulfill its core task – awarding prizes for quality journalism.

The awards honored “contributions whose importance cannot be overestimated in times when misinformation is deliberately spread and used to manipulate people,” the letter says. They are therefore demanding that the institute be provided with “adequate financial resources” by the financial institutions, as this is the only way it can work independently.

Hole in wallet

Grimme director Frauke Gerlach announced in an interview with epd Medien at the beginning of November that the institute was short of money: The institute was short of 320,000 euros this year, next year it would be 430,000.

Various shareholders are jointly responsible for financing the Grimme Institute. About 40 percent of the institute is supported by the VHS, the German Adult Education Association. 10 percent from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The North Rhine-Westphalia government has already cut funding for the press elsewhere this year due to the tight budget. In 2024 it wants to spend 5.3 million euros less on the Film and Media Foundation NRW.

The shareholders published a joint statement on Monday regarding the current situation at Grimme and the feared staff cuts. It says: “The Grimme Institute is facing major challenges.” They emphasize that they want to put the institute on a reliable footing in the future.

Austerity measures are noticeable

The shareholders worked with a consulting firm to help the institute with “solid financing” and a “content focus”. The VHS, a shareholder of the Grimme Institute, informed the taz that it could not comment further on the economic situation during the ongoing process.

The VHS also did not want to respond to the concerns expressed by the commission and jury members about the future of the Grimme Institute. The Grimme Institute itself is not allowed to comment on its economic situation, a press spokesman said upon request and referred to the shareholders’ statement.

The signatories of the appeal said that the effects of the austerity measures are already being felt. Two assistant positions in the “Fiction” and “Information and Culture” commissions have been cut. It says that this has already disrupted the ongoing search for the upcoming prize winners due to the “notoriously understaffed prize department”.

A meeting of the shareholders is scheduled for next Wednesday. “We hope for results soon and will also address the concerns of the employees,” said a press spokeswoman for the VHS.

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