I wonder if it's really good German to talk about "Öffentlichkeit" the same way we talk about "the public" in English. I know it's done, but it seems wrong to my ear. It's true that "öffentlich" means "public" in the sense of "not private", and adding -keit changes an adjective to a noun, but I don't think it's exactly the same noun as the English "public". I would accept it as "publicness", in the sense of "the publicness of the disgrace of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford", but "the public" is something entirely different.
I read the German Wikipedia article on Öffentlichkeit and if I understand correctly, it is a genuine concept relating to the idea of a public arena where political and social ideas are debated. The same word also seems to describe that debate in itself, the way we might express in English the idea of "the public discourse". But that's very different from the American "man-in-the-street" idea of "the public".
What I'm wondering is, whether English is so predominant as the international language of the news media, that even powerful languages like German are not immune to the invasion of direct calques from English usage. I wonder what our German correspondents think. Is it good German to talk about the general public as "die Öffentlichkeit", or is it a calque from English that's made its way into the language as a result of external pressure e.g. translators at the news services needing a quick and handy phrase to use for an American idiom?
EDIT: here's the link to the German Wikipedia article: Öffentlichkeit