I am looking for a good way to express sentences such as,

  1. This newspaper gives the news a conservative spin/bias.
  2. We need to put a positive spin on the bad news.

I see in some dictionaries an almost literal,

"...gibt den Nachrichten einen konservativen Dreh.", and "...den schlechten Nachrichten einen positiven Dreh geben",

but there aren't too many examples of this on the internet, so I'm not 100% sure. Other possibilities for sentence 1. seem to be using "Ausrichtung", but still, "eine konservative Ausrichtung geben" doesn't seem to be produce many results either.

Can anybody help me out here? Thanks in advance!

  • Instead of einen Dreh geben one can also say einen Drall geben. I find this metaphor better, because Drall is the rotational impulse (i.e., the spin). Actually, it is the impulse and not the rotation itself that is given to something. May 9, 2019 at 7:08
  • 1
    "Dreh" has some sort of connotation of manipulation or trick to it - Some more than spin, I think
    – tofro
    May 9, 2019 at 7:17
  • 1
    @tofro: But that is exactly what "spin" is: Tatsachen verdrehen. Drall is the literal translation of "spin", but I wouldn't use it myself. May 9, 2019 at 7:36
  • @Björn: "spin" is the rotation, not the impulse. May 9, 2019 at 7:37
  • 1
    To give spin is manipulating toward a bias. May 9, 2019 at 12:14

6 Answers 6


The most used translations for bias are Ausrichtung, Beeinflussung, Voreingenommenheit, and if more technical, then Verzerrung - or their adjectives or verbs. Otherwise, some alternate constructions are more useful:

This newspaper gives the news a conservative spin/bias.

Diese Zeitung verleiht den Nachrichten eine konservative Ausrichtung.


We need to put a positive spin on the bad news.

Wir müssen die Nachrichten positiver ausrichten.


This newspaper is politically biased.

Diese Zeitung ist politisch voreingenommen.

In technical contexts, you may read Verzerrung. However, especially in electronics, the English word Bias (capitalised as noun) is preferred even in German, because the word distortion also means Verzerrung but describes a complete different phenomenon.

  • 1
    If the newspaper is politically biased it does not necessarily mean it's influenced. IMHO the right translation for being biased is "voreingenommen sein". May 9, 2019 at 17:08
  • @infinitezero yes, this is a better translation, I edited it. May 9, 2019 at 19:11
  • @rexkogitans Danke! Wie waere es mit "Anstrich"? Die Zeitung verleiht den Nachrichten einen konservativen Anstrich?
    – Mark
    May 10, 2019 at 15:44
  • @Mark "Anstrich" finde ich nicht gebräuchlich hier. May 10, 2019 at 16:39
  • Statt Anstrich vielleicht "Ton" oder neudeutsch "Touch"? May 11, 2019 at 13:17

In my opinion, "einer Geschichte einen Dreh geben" isn't a good translation as it sounds too positive. It means that you tell a story from a somewhat different - but valid - angle. That is a quality of a good author or journalist!

By contrast, "to give a spin/bias" is unequivocally negative: You distort some information. If you want to have this meaning in German, you would have to use some expresssion like "einen Sachverhalt verdreht/verzerrt wiedergeben".

I am not sure, how I would add the type of spin, e.g., "conservative spin". It's definitely not "konservativ verdreht". Maybe I would use "allzu konservativ". In that case my disapproval is already expressed by "allzu" and I could indeed say "einer Geschichte eine allzu konservative Ausrichtung geben" (or "einen ... Dreh").

  • 2
    Well, "spin" of course translates to "Dreh" or "Drall". But me, as an Austrian, I really never heard of "einer Geschichte einen Dreh geben." Maybe, I would even understand it wrong and read it as "make the story more vivid." May 10, 2019 at 7:38
  • @rexkogitans: Exactly that is my concern: You and I would generally interpret "einen Dreh geben" as something positive. In another answer (by @mtwde) "Pfiff" is suggested as a good translation, which is in line with your interpretation - but not with the meaning of the English original! May 10, 2019 at 9:21

"Dreh" is i.m.o understandable, formal-ish (it's what my parents are likely to say but neither my peers nor an official text would use it) and rather rare.

Propably the most formal way is "eine XY Konnotation" e.g. 1: "Die Zeitung gibt der Meldung eine konservative Konnotation" 2: "Wir müssen der schlechten Nachricht eine positive Konnottion geben". followed by "ein XY Bezug" 1: "Die Zeitung gibt der Meldung einen konservativen Bezug".

Generally you can use "etwas eine XY Note geben" or "etas einen XY Anstrich" thoght it is somewhat colloquial and I wouldn't use it for 1. (note that "etwas" is Dativ here)

In colloquial language you can use "etwas hat einen XY Touch", "etwas einen XY Touch geben". (Dativ too)

But the way I would phrase these thoughts myself is "Die Zeitung stellt die Nachrichten in ein konservatives Licht" or "Wir müssen die schlechte Nachricht in ein gutes Licht rücken". leo.org tranaslates "etw.[Akk.] ins rechte Licht rücken" with "to put sth. in perspective" and for me it feels most natural to use that idiom for anything that's beeing put in one perspective or the other.


To give something a certain spin can be translated into German very well by the following metaphor:

  • Eine Sache in ein bestimmtes Licht rücken

This matches to give something a certain spin pretty well, because it also has a very proactive subtone.

Within the last years, the imported term framing has also gained some conjuncture in German, an it is now possible to use the verb framen as an anglicism from to frame:

  • Eine Sache auf eine bestimmte Weise framen

Other possibilities of expressing this are:

  • Eine Sache parteiisch darstellen (to present a thing with a certain bias)
  • Eine Sache aus einer bestimmten Perspektive darstellen. (to present a thing from a certain angle / a certain perspective)

Though the metaphor

  • Einer Sache einen bestimmten Dreh geben

would be understood - it is the literal translation of to give a thing a certain spin -, I do not think it would be used idiomatically.

  • Danke! Konnte man auch einfach sagen, "...den Nachrichten einen konservativen Bias geben"?
    – Mark
    May 9, 2019 at 23:27
  • @Mark Nein. Bias hat man, aber man kann ihn nicht weitergeben. May 10, 2019 at 7:43
  • Thanks. Noch ein Versuch mit dem Wort "Bias" :) "Die Sendung verdreht/verzerrt die Nachrichten, so dass sie einen konservativen/linken Bias haben."
    – Mark
    May 10, 2019 at 13:53
  • @Mark: Ja, vielleicht eher: Die Sendung verdreht die Fakten, sodass .... May 10, 2019 at 13:54
  • @Mark Ein Bias (und auch ein Spin) äußert sich vor allem im Kommentar, im Ton, und in der Auswahl dessen, was und wie berichtet wird. Wenn man die Nachrichten verdreht oder verzerrt, dann ist das schon deutlich stärkere Manipulation. (Das impliziert für mich, dass das, was ich berichte, nicht einmal streng genommen wahr ist.)
    – sgf
    May 15, 2019 at 14:14

First ... what is a spin?

Public relations term, referring to slightly altering facts to portray a desired version of a story.

A description or the act of describing negative events in an overly favorable way. Advertising Copy or political hyperbole, especially when intentionally misleading.

1, 2

From my point of view Dreh or Verdrehung are indeed your best choices. Or you can take a look at these words, where finassiert/finassieren may be another good choice.


Kniff (3b)

Pfiff (2b)

or very far fetched



(der Geschichte) eine neue/andere Richtung geben

  • Meines Erachtens keine gute Antwort, da dsie die negative Konnotation von "spin" komplett ignoriert.
    – Burki
    May 10, 2019 at 6:40

»Ausrichtung« is okay for case (1):

Diese Zeitung hat eine [eher] konservative Ausrichtung / politische Färbung / Tendenz.

Diese Zeitung ist [eher] konservativ ausgerichtet / gefärbt.

To »Tendenz« there is also an adjective for biased behaviour:

Dieser Kommentar ist tendenziös.

tendenziöse Berichterstattung

Case (2) is more difficult, I would propose the following:

Wir dürfen nicht nur schlechte Nachrichten bringen.

  • 2
    That is not nearly the translation of use of the word "spin" here! It refers to what is done with the news, not to the newspaper. In journalism, it can be translated as "Darstellung" (of the news), which is not nearly the same as "Ausrichtung" (of the newspaper). "Diese Zeitung gibt den Nachrichten einen konservative Darstellung" or "... einen konservativen Dreh" or even "... einen konservativen Schlag". Also "Wir müssen die schlechten Nachrichten einen positiven Dreh geben" or "... positiv darstellen" May 9, 2019 at 7:06
  • 1
    @RudyVelthuis: Bevor ich bei Zeitungen von Schlag oder Dreh rede, würde ich eher von Tendenz sprechen.
    – Pollitzer
    May 9, 2019 at 7:25
  • 1
    @RudyVelthuis: Well, "Färbung" is indeed quite fitting, even though it's usually rather descriptive than prescriptive. May 9, 2019 at 7:25
  • @Pollitzer: Würde ich aber nicht. Es ist keine Tendenz. Das Wort "spin" bedeutet mehr oder weniger wörtlich, dass man Tatsachen verdreht. "Färbung" ist da schon näher. Das gilt übrigens auch für Berichtgebung in Fernsehsendungen, Texten auf Pamphleten, Aussprachen von Politikern, usw. May 9, 2019 at 7:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.