Journalist Prize for Computer Science 2018 awarded at Saarland University

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This evening, State Secretary Jürgen Lennartz will present the Journalist Prize for Computer Science awarded by the Saarland State Chancellery. The main prizes in the categories print, radio and television will go to editors of the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, the Hessischer Rundfunk and the Westdeutscher Rundfunk. The three main prizes are each endowed with 5,000 euros. The Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA) is funding a special prize worth 1,000 euros to Thomas Reintjes for a contribution to Deutschlandfunk.

The prize has been awarded for contributions to computer science journalism since 2006. The articles cover both new research results and innovations as well as socio-political topics such as data theft. Once again, the Saarland State Chancellery has provided the funding for the three main prizes of 5,000 euros each. 79 contributions were submitted for the 2018 Journalist Award.

“The Journalist Award for Computer Science also honors Saarland as an international science location. Because of the computer science research at Saarland University, the neighboring research institutes and the new Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA), Saarland has top-class institutions of international renown,” explains State Secretary Jürgen Lennartz.

For the 2018 competition year, the eight-member jury evaluated 54 print articles, 18 radio pieces and seven television contributions. The competition was organized by the Competence Center for Computer Science at Saarland University. It received financial support from both the Max Planck Institutes for Computer Science and Software Systems and the Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA).

The award ceremony will take place today at 6 p.m. in the building of the Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA), Stuhlsatzenhaus 5, on the campus of Saarland University.

The winners of the Journalist Prize for Computer Science 2018 in detail:

Main Prize, Print (5,000 Euro):
The feature “Gegen den Strom”, written by Till Krause and Hakan Tanriverdi, is the winner in the Print category. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin” published the article on May 4, 2018. The article is available at:

Jury statement:
“The two authors describe successful hacker attacks on energy networks in Ukraine in the years 2015 and 2016. They take the attacks as an opportunity to investigate the question of whether Germany’s energy supply is also threatened. Through their impressive research, they arrive at results that are not known to the public, but should be, as this topic is highly relevant to society. Their explosive power is also confirmed by researchers worldwide. When the authors touch on technology and computer science, they explain them conclusively and skillfully, as the metaphor of the drawbridge shows.”

Main Prize, Radio (5,000 euros):
“Self-learning machines: how artificial intelligence is created” by Henning Steiner is the winner in the radio category. Hessischer Rundfunk broadcasted the award-winning report on March 11, 2018 on the informational channel “hr-iNFO”. The article is available at the following link:—wie-kuenstliche-intelligenz-entsteht,podcast-episode30836.html

Jury statement: “The author takes the triumphal march of the Alexa, Cortana and Siri language assistance systems as an opportunity to question the possibilities of artificial intelligence, which is much celebrated these days. He examines what it can and cannot do. In doing so, he places himself in the service of the listeners and, partly in dialogue with scientists, decodes the differences between technical terms that are often used superficially or even incorrectly in other media. He succeeds in differentiating and in giving a good overview of the state of research as well as discussing ethical questions. He always does this in an entertaining way. This is also shown at the beginning of his contribution. There he vividly describes what his little son, who is currently learning colors, has in common with a thinking machine.”

Main Prize, Television (5,000 euros):
The main prize television goes to the team of the Quarks transmission “Social media – How much power does Facebook really have?”, which Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln broadcasted on May 15, 2018.
Among the people involved in the program are Pina Dietsche, Heinz Greuling, Ulrich Grünewald, Nadine Hantke, Dennis Horn, Jan Koch, Peter Krachten, Wolfgang Lemme, Max Ostendorf, Anahita Parastar, Michael Ringelsiep, Lars Tepel, Mathias Tertilt and Ranga Yogeshwar.

Jury statement: “2018 has shown that mountains of data can also be used against democracy. Social media such as the Facebook platform have therefore been part of the public discourse for months. The program picks up on this debate and deals in a very vivid way with aspects that are known but rarely explained. The authors cover not only technology, but also related topics such as psychology. Furthermore, the program shines with its lively style and the use of different narrative forms.”

Special prize (1,000 euros):
The special prize, funded by the Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA), goes to Thomas Reintjes for his radio contribution “Die Maschine: über das Dunkle in der Blackbox” (The Machine: About the Darkness in the Black Box), broadcasted on December 26, 2017 on Deutschlandfunk. The radio show can be played under the following link:

Jury statement: “The format is unusual and deals with the risks of artificial intelligence in such a vivid way that the boundaries between facts from research and fiction are not clearly definable. Nevertheless, the contribution gives a very strong impulse to deal with the opportunities and risks of machine learning and other concepts of artificial intelligence, to question the technology, to deal with it in depth. This makes the contribution more than just entertaining. The cross-media implementation in combination with a so-called graphic novel is also convincing.”

The jury for the Journalist Award consists of Dr. Ilka Desgranges, head of the feuilleton department at the Saarbrücker Zeitung and journalism lecturer, Peter Hergersberg, Department of Communication at the Max Planck Society, Dr. Wolfgang Pohl, managing director of the nationwide computer science competitions, Beatrice Lugger, scientific director of the National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik), Martin Schneider, chairman of the Science Press Conference (WPK) and deputy head of the television science editorial office of Südwestrundfunk, Reinhard Wilhelm, professor of computer science at Saarland University and founding director of the Leibniz Center for Computer Science in Schloss Dagstuhl, Peter Welchering, freelance technology and science journalist, and Dr. Christel Weins, natural scientist and founder of the Journalist Award.

Questions can be directed to:
Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Competence Center for Computer Science Saarland
Saarland Informatics Campus
Tel: 0681 302-70741

Die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit am Saarland Informatics Campus wird unterstützt durch das Kompetenzzentrum Informatik Saarland, gefördert aus Mitteln des Europäischen Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE) und Mitteln der Staatskanzlei Saarland.

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