Entering the Cold Season: Newspapers and Early Birds

The Mainstream Press, Stuck in the Middle

Doppelpod took offense from an online article by German daily Die Welt, the headline of which read something like China is reeling into the big financial crash (“China taumelt dem großen Finanz-Crash entgegen”). JR had read about the coming doomsday, too, of course, but given that he has paid attention to the not-so-sexy footnotes to China’s stimulus programs for two years, he was neither inclined to take the article at face value, nor to give them credit for noticing some pretty huge drawbacks which they could have reported much earlier. Nothing is as good or bad as first reported – and what looked much more interesting were some commenters’ reactions to the article.

De la même façon (I’m in a French mood today), MyLaowai takes offense from the press on a regular basis.

Don’t these thrillers look more like penny press than like an established (and meaning to be serious) paper?

Probably. But then, online content isn’t exactly the same as the print edition, and it’s easily forgotten that what comes free of charge (online articles) can’t be as good as what you pay for at the newsstand. And maybe clicks matter more, on the internet, than to provide news with real substance.

Then again, what I’m buying at the newsstand is still not as good as many academic papers found online ( again, free of charge – I usually download and categorize the latter immediately, so as to save them before they might be turned into payware).

Here’s a problem. When I was a child, people were often satisfied with one paper only – usually the local paper, when it comes to Germany. The Weser-Kurier, Bremen, was and is a pretty good regional one, but many other local papers take their national and world politics articles and reports from bigger peers on a regular basis. Nowadays, even a national paper has little to offer that you wouldn’t find on the internet, too. A paper’s role in peoples’ lives has become much more relative than what it used to be – there are tons of alternative sources.

And where is a paper with staff where single members could, to some degree, specialize, or even just devote an entire month to research or investigation?

To make things worse, editorials are usually very predictable once you know the paper and the topic. What the public saw in the run-up to the Iraq war was a mix of lacking research and prejudice. Especially, by the way, when you read Die Welt. Some of their major columnists should have gone into the desert for a year, to fast and to reflect on having been such easy marks for the Bush jr. administration’s stovepiping. (As far as I can remember, they woudldn’t even shut up for a month. Maybe some of them changed the subject, for a while.)

But prejudice may be forgiven. It doesn’t hurt, as long as one paper’s prejudices don’t matter on another paper. (It may have a negative effect on steady subscriptions, however – a matter dear to most papers.)

The bigger problem is that the papers, even the big ones, seem to be stuck in the middle. They are more diverse in topics than academic papers (available on the internet, often for free, or in a library, also for free), but their old role of informing people – even if only vaguely – about global or national events and trends looks outdated.

The paper of the future – if there is a future for it at all – will look different from today’s papers.

The Early Bird

It’s good that I’m usually the first one who enters the kitchen in the morning. One of the young cats (born in May) has become a serial killer of root voles. That’s good. And I know that the hackly little presents are from the heart. But I wish they weren’t placed on the kitchen table every morning.



But earlier this week, I seemed to be meditating for a moment, before cleaning up the mess. There was that proud cat, acting as if it were asleep, and the dead booties next to it. I’m probably something of a Buddhist, but I felt that someone’s pleasure, even if the other one’s pain, might still be genuine pleasure.

Winter is Coming

Slight night frost on October 10th, and once or twice this week. I’m not looking forward to the cold and dark season, but the colors are beautiful.



» Rain at Last, June 19, 2011


6 Responses to “Entering the Cold Season: Newspapers and Early Birds”

  1. Here in the Great Southern Land we have been experiencing very gentle weather in contrast to this time in previous years. Having experienced massive flooding earlier this year, Ozlanders are now dealing with a massive growth of invasive weeds in most nature reserves and along waterways. Large tracks of nature reserves are now being colonised by imported FOREIGN weeds and grasses. I am not joking here as I play a very small part in their eradication.

    They can never be totally eradicated and at best managed.

    Weed outbreaks notwithstanding, this is the time for wearing short pants, heading for the beach, slapping on the sunscreen and disappearing into a good book. Only breaking away for a quick look at the surf breaking on the sand and curvaceous members of the opposite gender.

    Last years mandatory beach read was Truth by Peter Temple (now translated into 23 languages), but I am unsure of the peoples choice this year.

    Iceland and Ozland are two of the best read nations in the world and our free public libraries are world class. I would be lost without my public library.

    Finally, lets go on record here. I really don’t like cats: KT is strictly a dog and parrot guy.


  2. It wasn’t exactly my idea to allow them into the house (they come and go as they like), but I do like cats. What is it that you dislike them for? Are they looking too much like rats?

    Only became aware by your comment that Australia is actually heading into summer.


  3. @KT – “KT is strictly a dog and parrot guy”

    All that’s needed is a peg leg and and eye-patch and you’d be a fairly convincing pirate, add in some eye-liner and it would make you a member of Wizzard.

    @JR – “What is it that you dislike them for?”

    Let’s be clear on this JR. Dogs are loyal, honest, and all other virtues that are generally considered desirable in a pet. Cats, on the other hand, will jump ship at the drop of the hat, and seem to be collectively convinced that the human race are a pack of suckers who they have successfully managed to con – they may well be right!

    If a burglar comes to your house, a dog will try to defend its territory, a cat could probably be bought off for a saucer of milk into unlocking the door from the inside.

    All the disasterous relationships I’ve been in in my life (which would be all of them) were with cat people. I believe there’s an important lesson in this.


  4. i would like to expand on FOARPs eloquent argument.

    Cats, especially those which go feral, do untold damage to birdlife. When I am out on the estate and come across a feline, I reach for the shottie and blast it into non-existence.

    Most people have it arse around. Humans didn’t domesticate dogs; rather dogs chose us to be their people companions.

    I recommend Richard Sheldrake’s Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999) (Winner of the Book of the Year Award from the British Scientific and Medical Network)

    Given my high regard for dogs and Australia’s truly crap crop of current politicians, I am quite prepared to vote in an intelligent cattle dog as our next Prime Minister.

    I used to enjoy telling my Sino-students that big dogs have souls and go on to an afterlife, while small dogs simply become fertiliser.

    Finally, I will keep the cat relationship hypothesis in mind when the hormones begin to act out.


  5. Superstitious bullshit 而已. No wonder that the ancient Egyptians believed that cats were gods, and that cats were killed in droves during the Middle Ages, for a common belief that they were the devil’s agents. You are still more of an altar boy than you’d want to admit, KT.

    And, FOARP? I don’t care if a cat jumps ship or not, so long as it catches mice. An animal is an animal, and to suggest that an animal of whatever kind would be “loyal” is bullshit. A dog simply knows where its feeding dish is (and it’s usually too stupid to catch stuff on its own). Any hired killer may be called “loyal”, too, by these standards.




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