Journalism Prize for Informatics awarded

Bild der Pressemitteilung

This year’s winners of the Computer Science Journalism Prize with Minister Jürgen Barke: (from left to right) Holger Fröhlich, Christian Kretschmer, Pascal Burkhard, Mick Mahler, Manuel Zilleken (not in the picture: Wolfgang Stieler, Jasmine Rüegg and the rest of the Doctor Whatson team). Photo: Manuela Meyer/Saarland University

The Saarland Ministry of Economic Affairs, in cooperation with the Saarland Informatics Campus, has again awarded the Journalism Prize for Informatics. This year for the first time, the German Informatics Society is a partner of the prize. A radio feature from Südwestrundfunk, an online video from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, an article each from the business magazine “brand eins” and the magazine “MIT Technology Review” as well as a YouTube format on science journalism were honoured.

The Journalism Prize for Informatics was first awarded in 2006 and is endowed with a total of 16,000 euros. The award money for the main awards in the three categories “text,” “audio,” and “video and multimedia,” each endowed with 5,000 euros, is provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digital and Energy. In addition, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence is once again donating a special award of 1,000 euros this year. The aim of the Journalism Prize for Informatics is to promote high-quality reporting on topics related to computer science.

Jürgen Barke, Saarland Minister for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digital Affairs and Energy, congratulated the award winners and said: “With the Journalism Prize for Informatics, we want to make the opportunities and risks of digitalisation accessible and understandable to the general public. The award primarily recognises the outstanding work of journalists. But it also recognises the importance of reporting on topics relating to digitalisation and artificial intelligence for our society and the economic transformation. I would like to congratulate all the award winners and at the same time encourage them to continue reporting on the topics of digitalisation and artificial intelligence with passion and commitment. Their work is of inestimable value to our society and plays a key role in enabling us to master the opportunities and challenges of the digital transformation together.”

In total, the jury assessed 70 entries this year, including 44 in the text category, 15 in the audio category and eleven in the video and multimedia category. The members of the jury for the Journalism Prize for Informatics are: Peter Bylda, long-time editor of the newspaper Saarbrücker Zeitung and now a freelance journalist, Peter Hergersberg from the editorial team of the science magazine MaxPlanckForschung, Isabel Münch, Fellow of the German Informatics Society, Dr. Wolfgang Pohl, Managing Director of the German National Computer Science Competitions, Florian Possinger from Saarländischer Rundfunk, Vera Sikes, Head of the Saarbrücken site of the German Federal Office for Information Security, Dr Christel Weins, co-founder of the journalism prize, the freelance technology and science journalist Peter Welchering and Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h.c. Reinhard Wilhelm, Professor of Computer Science at Saarland University and long-standing Director of the Leibniz Centre for Informatics at Schloss Dagstuhl.

The award-winning entries of the Journalism Prize for Informatics 2023 in detail:

The main prize of 5,000 euros in the “Audio” category goes to the radio feature “Clickworker – Ausgebeutet für künstliche Intelligenz“ by Christian Kretschmer, published on Südwestrundfunk on SWR2 on August 24, 2023. The feature can be accessed online at:

Jury statement: Artificial intelligence is not without its problems, as is widely known. Many have already heard about AI’s excessive hunger for energy or the copyright issues of generative models. Paradoxically, far less present in the current AI debate is the global training data industry, in which millions of people are trapped in highly precarious working conditions. For extremely low wages, they perform the sometimes traumatizing work that makes modern AI systems possible in the first place. Christian Kretschmer’s extensively researched radio feature gives these exploited “clickworkers” a voice and allows people from Kenya and Colombia to share their experiences in an industry characterized by poor pay, surveillance, intense competition, and psychological stress. Utilizing well-placed sound bites and expert interviews, the report offers unique insights into a problematic industry that is either knowingly or unknowingly supported by companies and users in wealthier countries. It also shows that there is an urgent need for a rethink in dealing with the “human in the loop,” without which the development of AI systems will not be possible in the foreseeable future.

The main prize of 5,000 euros in the “Video & Multimedia” category goes to the video entry “Unsere heutige Online-Verschlüsselung wird einem leistungsstarken Quantencomputer nicht standhalten können“ by Pascal Burkhard and Jasmine Rüegg, published online on Neuen Zürcher Zeitung on December 21, 2023. The contribution is available at:

Jury statement: Pascal Burkhard and Jasmine Rüegg present a video that is both startling and unsettling. They urgently warn of “Q-Day,” the day when quantum computers become so powerful that they can crack encryption methods that would take even the most modern supercomputers thousands to millions of years to calculate, in just a few minutes. Highly sensitive data, including financial and health information, could then be accessed. Despite its short duration of just six minutes, the video manages to address various concepts of cryptography and quantum computing and explain them in a technically correct yet clear and easy-to-understand way. The topic is extremely relevant, and the accessible presentation allows the journalists to reach a broad audience, thereby raising essential awareness of the issue.

In the “Text” category, the jury has decided this year to split the prize into two equal prizes (2,500 euros each). The winners are Holger Fröhlich for the article “Im Spinnennetz”, published on February 1, 2023 in the business magazine “brand eins”, and Wolfgang Stieler for the article “Der Geist in der Maschine”, published on May 11, 2023 in the magazine “Technology Review”.

Jury statements:

The internet is only free because others earn money from it. This well-known but uncomfortable fact is often ignored when using online applications such as search engines, social networks, or navigation apps. This is because anyone who uses such services becomes a product themselves—in a global shadow market known as “AdTech.” In his compelling article, Holger Fröhlich analyzes the malpractices of this unchecked market for personalized advertising and illustrates, for example, how detailed personality profiles are auctioned off to hundreds of data traders worldwide in milliseconds through a completely automated process. The article highlights a critical issue and targets a broad audience to raise awareness. The extensive research is vividly illustrated with numerous examples, including positive counter-examples, demonstrating that the AdTech industry doesn’t have to be inherently predatory. Available at:

Are large language models just stochastic parrots, or is there more to these eloquent machines? Wolfgang Stieler’s article uses numerous scientific examples to explain how researchers from various disciplines are trying to get to the bottom of this philosophical question. He shows that the debate about whether and how much “real” intelligence exists in the large language models that are currently so hyped is no longer just a concern for computer scientists. It requires social debate and regulation. The article takes its audience seriously and, while it presents a high density of facts at times, it successfully highlights the latest developments in computer science in an engaging manner. Available at:

The special prize of 1,000 euros awarded by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) honors the video entry “Wir haben KI die Zukunft der Menschheit generieren lassen” by Cedric Engels, Carolin Riethmüller, Mick Mahler, Jonas Bradtke, Marian Knittler, Pascal Rausch, Hannes Gabelmann, Manuel Zilleken and Jakob Göß, published on April 16, 2023 by the channel “Doktor Whatson” on Youtube. The feature can be accessed online at:

Jury statement: The team from the YouTube channel “Doktor Whatson”, led by presenter and managing director Cedric Engels, excels at presenting complex scientific content in a concise and understandable manner. In this award-winning contribution, they showcase how various AI tools can drastically reduce the time required for tasks that once took months, completing them within a week. The team produced an animated film where nearly all production steps, from concept and script to visual creation and animation, were executed with the help of AI systems. The film is a tool showcase with a wow factor, and the results are impressive for viewers of all ages.

Background Saarland Informatics Campus

900 scientists (including 400 PhD students) and approx. 2500 students from more than 80 nations make the Saarland Informatics Campus (SIC) one of the leading locations for computer science in Germany and Europe. Four world-renowned research institutes, namely the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, and the Center for Bioinformatics along with Saarland University and its three departments and 24 degree programs, together cover the entire spectrum of computer science.

Press photos of the award ceremony for download (from 15 May):

You will find a press photo on this news website. The press photos can be used free of charge in connection with this press release and reporting on Saarland University, provided the photographer is credited.

Philipp Zapf-Schramm
Saarland Informatics Campus
Phone: +49 681 302-70741