Zur Front

20. Juli 2017

News portals

There's a plethora of reporting and analysis on the web, and I'd like to talk a little about the way I see it.

The first distinction to make is, in my opinion, whether we're dealing with redaction or not.

Unredacted material necessarily reflects the personal views of its author(s). This blog is an example and so are Michael Klonovsky's Acta diurna. Quite a few people let the world know what they think by blogging and quite a few journalists have their own website to archive their articles and publish some reports they couldn't sell.

Although usually of a decent analytical quality this material is either too particular to follow in concentrated form or it lacks relevance, which has to be compensated by humour or freshness of approach. In any case, though, there is little reason for the reader not to prefer its redaction.

Next, with redacted material, we should ask what's the aim of the redaction, or differently put, what constitutes importance for the editor. The first distinction I want to make here is, whether the editor is interested in the specifics of the content of the articles he publishes or not, or differently put, whether he's a content hunter or not.

Content hunters need specific material for a purpose of theirs and consequently their produce is similarly particular in nature as unredacted material is, yet not in raw diversity, only as far as its variety is concerned, that is only in intent.

However, there are some very general intentions, like wanting to show that the times are headed in a certain direction, for if they really are, almost anything serves to prove it.

Of this nature are some rather entertaining news portals, I'll mention
If unredacted material is the like of prophets', then content hunters are public speakers on their particular subject.

If, on the other hand, the editor isn't interested in the content per se, then his interest is either derived from the interest of his readers in the content or from the interest of his content providers in the content. The former is called clientelism and the latter advertisement.

An example of pure clientelism is Jane's. As for the other, never mind.

The problem, however, in these waters is that they are hardly sailed by pure examples. When it comes to newspapers, there are some, like Le Monde, or The Sun, for that matter, who come reasonably close to serving their respective readers exactly what they expect and how they expect it to be served.

Interestingly enough though, there is not a single German written newspaper of that sort. The best I know is the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, but, like many other papers, The Independent comes to mind, there is a doctrine, either believed or paid for, that supervises the information of the reader, and although this would be in the former case no worse a motivation than that of a content hunter, the result is worse, because the supervision isn't seeking that what does indeed suit it, but rather deceives about a matter, and while the one sidedness of a content hunter bent on making a point usually leads to statistical misrepresentation, that is far more agreeable than the conscious discarding of plausibility and notional clarity.

While these two can be restored by reading between the lines or closely, respectively, I don't believe in the misdirection of the mentally sluggish, who, on the other hand, understand cum grano salis well enough, since everything in their world is.

Still, in case of the NZZ and the Independent, the supervision is only topical and reactive, whereas in other papers it is total and active, trying to influence the reader in every single line of every single article, not calculatedly, of course, but in narcissistic frenzy or deeply rooted hatred. In any case, though, it is clear, why the average reader should flee this form of redaction, and by the looks of it, he also does.

Speaking of which, the redaction of the Drudge Report follows formally the clientelism of a tabloid, though with a different embedded agenda: A tabloid seeks to reassure, Drudge to call into question.

Sadly for Germany, every paper decides, when it reaches a certain size, to serve some group, which it considers fittest to manage Germany's affairs, and by doing so it turns its back on the reader who considers himself the judge of what he reads. So strong is the bend, that no impartial mind could subject itself to it for long.

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