Journalist’s Award for Computer Science awarded at Saarland University

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The head of the State Chancellery Henrik Eitel awarded the Journalism Prize for Informatics to Max Lebsanft, Christiane Miethge (audio), Sabina Wolf (video and multimedia), Karin Krichmayr (special prize) and Felix Ebert (text). Professor Anja Feldmann, Managing Director, of the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, congratulated the winners (from left to right). Credits: Dirk Guldner / Saarland Informatics Campus

In the evening, State Secretary Henrik Eitel will award the Journalism Prize for Information Technology 2019, worth 5000 euros, to editors of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Bavarian Broadcasting and the Austrian daily newspaper “Der Standard”. The award ceremony will take place at the Max Planck Institute for Computer Science. The State Chancellery of Saarland financed the three prizes in the main categories. The special prize of 1000 euros was donated by the Saarland Informatics Campus. As in previous years, Saarland University’s Competence Center for Informatics organized the competition.

Since its first announcement in 2006, the aim of the Informatics Journalist Prize has been to make current topics in computer science accessible to the public. A nine-member jury of experts therefore made sure that this year’s 87 entries included both an understandable explanation of current research results and a discussion of the opportunities and dangers associated with the information technology described.
“Saarland is a land of information technology. With numerous top-class research institutions, we are among the current national and international pioneers in the field of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. This is because the Saarland has top-class facilities of international renown thanks to research in computer science at Saarland University, the Max Planck Institutes, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security. It is the joint task of science, politics and the media to make this achievement understandable and to classify the opportunities and risks associated with digitization in the context of society as a whole. The Journalism Prize for Informatics and the award-winning contributions meet this requirement and deserve the highest recognition”, explains Henrik Eitel, Head of the State Chancellery of Saarland.

The winners of the Journalist’s Award for Computer Science 2019 in detail:

The prize in the category “Text” (5000 euros) goes to Katharina Brunner, Lea Deuber, Felix Ebert, Frederik Obermaier, Nicolas Richter and Vanessa Wormer. The winning article “Operation Honeybee” was published in the print edition of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on July 3, 2019. The article is available at the following link:

Jury statement: “Katharina Brunner, Lea Deuber, Felix Ebert, Frederik Obermaier, Nicolas Richter and Vanessa Wormer skillfully stage investigative research from a surveillance state. Upon entry into China, border officials install an app on the smartphones of those entering the country, recording their digital lives by the millisecond. In cooperation with other colleagues and researchers, the editors have analyzed this app. Their results will be incorporated into the plot framework of the piece, the entry of tourist Peter Hart. The article makes it clear: “Advances in information technology make this abuse possible and one wonders whether this will be the future.”

In the category “Audio” (5000 euros) Christiane Miethge and Max Lebsanft receive the award for the three-part radio series “Der nackte Mensch”. This was first broadcast in December 2018 on the radio program “Bayern 2” of the Bayerischer Rundfunk. The series can be listened to at the following link:

Jury statement: “In their three-part series, Christiane Miethge and Max Lebsanft declare 2018 to be the year in which information technology and the analysis of mountains of data also reached human health data. They substantiate this thesis with numerous examples that are both fascinating and frightening. Whether it’s measuring the soul, deciphering thoughts, or screening the human body using genetic data, Miethge and Lebsanft always stay close to their listeners’ everyday lives and persistently question how the new technologies will affect their future and who will earn money from them. Combined with excellent research, they thus evoke a high degree of social relevance. The series is designed in such a way that the listener is fascinated by each individual episode and always recognizes the concise style elements of the series.”

Sabina Wolf, editor for economics and politics at Bavarian Broadcasting, receives the award in the category “Video and Multimedia” (5000 euros) for her television contribution “Passports for Criminals: Biometric Data Trading in the Dark Web”. The program was broadcast by Bayerischer Rundfunk on November 28, 2018. The film is available at the following link:

Jury stament: “Biometric features such as fingerprints, iris scans or one’s own voice are used for identification and are therefore intended to secure borders and online trade. Sabina Wolf reveals in her award-winning article how cybercriminals make a business out of it and what serious consequences this has for people nationally and internationally. She exposes a false sense of security in a dramaturgically skillful manner and provides a vivid explanation of the dangerous use of biometric data in society. After watching the piece, you ask yourself whether you should really unlock your own smartphone with your fingerprint or even with your facial data.”

The Saarland Informatics Campus donated the special prize (1000 euros). The jury awards this prize to the article “Margaret Hamilton: She shot men to the moon”. Karin Krichmayr wrote it and published it on 15 June 2019 in the Austrian daily newspaper “Der Standard”. The article is available here:

Jury statement: “Women have always played important roles in information technology, from the development of the first computers to computer games known throughout the world. Nevertheless, many women are hesitant to take up a profession in information technology, even though the general conditions in this industry are very good. The profession is still stigmatized by equating it more with that of a lonely developer in a dark room than with working in an international team. The article by Karin Krichmayr does not do this. In an entertaining, relaxed way, the author describes the career of the American computer scientist, mathematician and software engineer Margaret Hamilton. Despite her outstanding personality, her professional achievements and her impressive career, she is virtually unknown to the public. Hamilton is a good role model and this article is an advertisement for more female participation in computer science”.

The jury for the Journalism Prize is made up of Dr. Ilka Desgranges, editor at Saarbrücker Zeitung and journalism lecturer; Peter Hergersberg, Head of the Editorial Board of Max Planck Research; Dr. Wolfgang Pohl, Managing Director of the nationwide IT competitions; Beatrice Lugger, Director of the National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik); Florian Possinger, Saarländischer Rundfunk; Jörg Siekmann, Professor of Computer Science at Saarland University; Peter Welchering, freelance technology and science journalist; Jan Dönges, editor at; and Dr. Christel Weins, scientist and founder of the Journalism Prize.

The Competence Center for Computer Science would like to thank Andreas Alzano, Katja Haab, Alexandra Klasen-Schmitt, Michael Laise, Maik Muschter, Laura Scholl and Philipp Christmann for their valuable support in organizing and conducting the competition.

Background: Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Since the founding of the Department of Computer Science in 1969, research at the highest international level has led to rapid growth at the site. Numerous collaborations offer a first-class springboard into business. Start-ups are promoted by the IT Incubator. Also due to this fast growth, the Competence Center for Computer Science Saarland (Kompetenzzentrum Informatik Saarland: KIS) was established in 2005. Since then, it has strengthened the scientific and technological basis, in the field of computer science, for Saarland as a research and business location: in particular the concentration and coordination of activities for a better networking of research, teaching, and technology transfer, as well as activities in the area of public relations, equal opportunity and promotion of young talent in computer science. The Competence Center is funded by the Saarland state government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Questions can be directed to:
Gordon Bolduan
Science Communication
Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Saarland Informatics Campus
Tel: 0681 302-70741
E-mail: bolduan(at)

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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