His column The “Black Channel” was one of Germany’s most discussed opinion pages on the internet

Jan Fleischhauer

Journalist, Focus, Berlin, Germany

Why you should listen

On his social media, Jan Fleischhauer quotes stand-up comedian Ricky Gervais, “Just because you are offended, does not mean that you are right.” It could either be a disclaimer or a fair warning for what one would often hear or read from Jan– thought-provoking, biting, and often polarizing pieces of a seasoned and opinionated journalist.

Jan Fleischhauer’s writing is an art; it causes people to feel things. But whether it is hate or love, one cannot deny that he is giving a voice to world views he thinks are underrepresented in the German media. He is driving change in mindsets and stirring conversations.

Jan spent 30 years at Der Spiegel, the largest publication in Europe and dubbed by the Economist as “one of continental Europe’s most influential” platforms . He recently moved to the Burda publishing house, where he has a column in Focus and a video column on Bunte.de.

His first book Unter Linken became the “bestselling political nonfiction book of the year” in Germany and winner of the Karl Hermann Flach Prize for its special contribution to the development of political liberalism. In it, he explored his development to the conservative in the face of social democratic dogmatism and fanaticism in his home and environment.

Hear Jan speak at Worldwebforum 2020 about thought leadership and the courage it entails to spark conversations and change.

About Focus

Focus is a German-language news magazine and an illustrated magazine published by Hubert Burda Media. It was founded in 1993 as an alternative to Spiegel and has been based in the German capital Berlin since 2015. Along with Spiegel and Stern, Focus is one of the three most widely read weekly magazines in Germany.



I’ve worked as a journalist all my professional life. You can argue that after studying German literature and philosophy, you don’t have much else to do. Nevertheless, I have never regretted my choice.

I spent 30 years at SPIEGEL. In January 1989, I started my service in Hamburg, committed by Rudolf Augstein as a child soldier to the assault gun of democracy. I wrote for almost every department of the newspaper and was often lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

As soon as the Wall was open, I went to Leipzig to explore the wild East. In the summer of 2001, the editor-in-chief sent me to New York, where I reported on Wall Street and the American economy, not bad timing either, as it turned out. When I came back to Berlin in January 2005, as one of the directors of the capital’s office, the long farewell to Rotgrün, in which the “Spiegel” naturally had a special meaning, was just about to begin.

Most people know me because of my column. The “Black Channel” appeared for the first time in January 2011 and soon became very popular with fans and opponents alike. Already twelve months after the column went online, it belonged to the most read and discussed opinion pages on the net. In May 2014, the “Schwarze Kanal” was also included in the print edition of SPIEGEL, where I took turns writing with Jakob Augstein for a long time.

I quit SPIEGEL in May of this year. I thought it was time to start something new. Since August I have been working as a columnist for “Focus”. The contrast to SPIEGEL will no longer exist, at least not within the editorial staff. The contrast to the general media environment remains. As long as two-thirds of the journalists working in Germany want a Federal Chancellor Robert Habeck, it seems to me that there is enough to do for someone like me.