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.
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