Guided tour #167: gereon asmuth: the number genius

He knows a thing or two about mathematics. Gereon Asmuth has been writing for the taz for 25 years. Once as an intern, he has since become co-head of the taz’s government department.

Gereon goes Babylon: Like the commissioner from the series Image: taz

By SIMONE SCHMOLLACK

"Mathematics is a wonderful thing. Especially for journalists, because you can explain facts quickly, simply and plausibly using sober numbers." Who writes such sentences? At any rate, hardly any of the editors at the taz. Most of them are at war with numbers. Except for one: Gereon Asmuth.

You realize this at the latest when you confuse billions with millions in a text, multiply instead of dividing when calculating percentages, and let a million people celebrate at a New Year’s Eve party at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, even though there isn’t even room for half of them. Gereon finds every calculation error.

And then he stands in front of you, pushes his glasses into your hair, talks about something you’ll never understand, and ends up talking about election results: "In the percentage election results, the absolute number of votes is set in relation to the total number of voters.

Munster, Bochum, East Berlin

Meanwhile, there are colleagues who don’t even think about calculating, they just ask Gereon. But few of them will know that the numbers genius has been at the taz for 25 years. To be precise – in Asmuth’s sense of the word: A quarter of a century ago, exactly on November 1, 1995, Gereon’s first text appeared in the taz.

Since then, he has filled the paper with articles on Berlin’s state and rent policies, bicycle-friendly cities, and referendums. He was an intern, editor and department head in the Berlin section, and later department head at taz.eins, the part of the editorial team responsible for the first five pages of the newspaper. For the past year, he has headed – together with the author of this text – the government department, the taz newsdesk.

Born in Munster in 1965, he grew up in Bochum, joined the East Berlin squatter scene after the fall of the Wall, studied economics and communications, eventually moved into a "proper" apartment and became a father twice in the past two years. The passion with which he fills this role is evident from the (countless) photos of his children on his smartphone. Does he know how many taz texts he has written in the past 25 years? We haven’t counted them. And we won’t. Guaranteed to fail. Better let Gereon do it himself.

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