President Frank-Walter Steinmeier praised the New York Times, the iconic US newspaper, as a "lighthouse of reason in an age of pandemic unreasonableness" and a "flagship of press freedom" in laudatory speech on Sunday, as the New York Times was awarded Germany's Marion-Dönhoff award in Hamburg.
The accolade honors individuals and organizations that contribute to "understanding and reconciliation." It is given out by the German weekly Die Zeit, the Zeit foundation and the foundation of Marion-Dönhoff, named after the German anti-Nazi resistance fighter and journalist Marion Gräfin-Dönhoff, who passed away in 2002.
The New York Times, he said, had been and was continually "setting the standards of the free press" by insisting on the highest quality of reporting.
"In these stormy times, we need that type of press more urgently than ever," he said, adding that for Germans, the paper remained "a window into the United States," which he described as "more complex" than the way the country is often protrayed in Germany.
Steinmeier, who serves as a mostly ceremonial figure in Germany, directed several of his remarks at the US President Donald Trump and his conflict with the media. Trump has repeatedly called the New York Times "failing" on Twitter.
The German president said that press freedom was under attack even in western democracies, even if those attacks are "just in passing, with an early-morning tweet."
No voter and no president can allow themselves to be uninformed, Steinmeier added.
Read more: Trump slams media as 'enemy of the people'
'Pulse of Europe' also honored in Hamburg
The New York Times editor-in-chief Dean Baquet accepted the award in Hamburg.
While many newspapers around the world struggle to maintain its audience, the New York Times says it has gained 600,000 new subscribers since Donald Trump's election victory in November last year. The large user base ensures the paper's independence from the "forces of the Silicon Valley or other big media corporations," Baquet said in translated remarks.
The Marion-Dönhoff accolade was first awarded in 2003, and the laureates include South African anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu and the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In addition to the main €20,000 ($23,743) prize, the organizers also awarded a secondary "sponsorship" prize to the pro-European organization the "Pulse of Europe."
The movement, which was founded last year in Frankfurt, promotes the values of united Europe and organizes pro-European rallies across the European Union.
dj/ng (dpa, KNA, AFP)