Mainz (dpa) – Two months after the last “heute” broadcast by ZDF presenter Petra Gerster, Jana Pareigis joins the 7pm news team at the Mainz broadcast center.

“I want to get people interested in what’s going on in the world,” the 40-year-old journalist says. That’s why she would like to see more coverage of Africa. When it comes to gender, she has just as clear a stance as her predecessor.

Before her first show “heute” Tuesday July 27, the native of Hamburg looks back on her career in journalism. “My newspaper Abitur said I was supposed to be a crazy journalist,” she laughs. So was she active enough in the class community? “I was not on my mouth,” she replies.

The praise put forward comes from ZDF’s Senior Editor-in-Chief, Bettina Schausten: “Jana Pareigis stands for first-class news journalism and now presents the ‘heute’ program alternately with Barbara Hahlweg and Christian Sievers.” Together, they form “a strong team that defends information literacy”.

Jana Pareigis loves to laugh. She also had sad experiences from an early age: “I am black and I have known racism since I was born”. At first, she dealt with the question of why people wanted to exclude others. In Hamburg, she grew up in a former Jewish quarter, followed Stolpersteinen’s message and dealt with the Holocaust. “At that time, I learned how important it is that there is a press with people who question actions critically.”

After graduating from high school, the young woman studied political science and then traveled to New York to study Africa for a year. Back in Germany, she came into contact with the television news for the first time, at the N24 station in Berlin, she started as assistant to the editor-in-chief of the parliamentary editorial staff. Other channels included the international television channel Deutsche Welle, then the morning magazine ZDF in 2014, followed by the midday magazine ZDF in 2018. She will host the “heute” program alternately with Barbara Hahlweg and Christian Sievers.

When the news is presented in front of the camera, the real work has already taken place upstream: “For me, the writing is the most beautiful, moderation is the icing on the cake”, confides Jana Pareigis. Working with language is particularly important to her – “and how to prepare it so that it becomes interesting for the viewer”. In the news, unlike the news, she sees “the chance that I, as a person, can take people with me, convey what is happening.”

Personal emotions, however, should remain in the background. “I’m also getting bad news,” the moderator said in an interview with the German news agency. “But I don’t show this on the show – after that I have to swallow.” Jana Pareigis is also reluctant to do personal matters, which is why she does not frolic on social media. “I want people to see me as a moderator, not a private person.” The fact that she was adopted by German-Swedish parents, her biological father is from Zimbabwe and her biological mother from Germany does not need to be of public interest.

From their point of view, it would be more interesting to take a closer look at what is happening in Africa. “We need a lot more coverage of Africa that is not so cliché.” Often the continent is only noticed during wars, disease and disasters, far too rarely with exciting and perhaps surprising projects in business and culture. “There is definitely room for improvement in the German media landscape.”

And what does Jana Pareigis think of gender in spoken language? “I want to address all viewers and that’s why I think it’s important to phrase it like that,” replies the ZDF presenter. “It’s inclusive, it doesn’t exclude anyone.” The little break in talking about gender forms might make this aware. “In that split second, everyone is included.”