Play, Explore and Experience

Two days ago I went to the #zonedebate of Zeitonline on “The Future of Journalism” – a conversation between Wolfgang Blau, editor in chief Zeit Online, and Alan Rusbridger, Editor in chief of UK’s The Guardian whose online platform attracts 32 million people a month!

The conversation made “differences” clearly visible! And the mayor difference between Zeit Online and The Guradian in my eyes wasn’t the fact that The Guardian is in a pretty comfortable position and “only has to seek for profit” – as Wolfgang Blau expressed it – the difference was really a rather different understanding of their particular culture of journalism. While The Guardian is truly embracing “new media”, understands the concept of openess and collaboration and let both become substantial parts of daily business, Zeit Online still seems to live in “old tradition”. Somehow: “We, the journalists are THE gatekeepers of objective and solid researched information”.

Rusbridger encouraged journalists and publishing houses to play, explore and experience these new opportunities and to find out what’s really working – moneywise and from the journalistic point of view! Without this experience/knowledge they will fail anyway!

Blau was also pointing out to David Weinberger’s questions month ago: “Is transparancy the new objectivity?” and Rusbridger immediately responded: “Transparency – this concept I like!”. If there is transparency in journalism – who needs the concept of objectivity any longer? Especially when objectivity is determined by the journalists themselves! This was hard to take for Blau.

And above all: I really enjoyed Alan Rusbridgers “Englishnism” 😉

6 thoughts on “Play, Explore and Experience”

  1. Dear Ms. Reinhard,

    your post paints a very misleading picture of what was being said that night.

    I strongly agree with Weinberger’s view on transparency and very much support Alan’s views on the future of journalism.

    For your research, please take a closer look at these three sources:
    1. all three videos of our event with Alan Rusbridger:

    2. the EJO-report about an event with Alan and I in Vienna earlier this year, where we both underlined the importance of transparency and a new culture of journalism:

    3. a (German) interview, where I tried to describe my understanding of journalismus in more detail:

    Best regards, W. Blau

  2. REPLY:
    … Mr. Blau. Maybe “complete” would be the better word to use;-)

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the additional links.

    As we “tweeted” – the above mentioned difference became obvious to me – not saying that ZeitOnline is on the wrong path … it’s simply way behind The Guardian. And The Guardian is pretty much advanced (as you said in your introduction) … and so are Alan Rusbridger’s thoughts about the Web!

    Don’t get me wrong, I do like ZeitOnline a lot, but still there is space for improvement … I know it is tough if “bottom-line thinking” reigns the newpaper, but in these times of change – I think – there is no better way to succeed than to embrace the Web – with all its consequences. And better today than tomorrow. The bottom-line will love it – midterm.

    Best, Ulrike

  3. There is a difference in freedom of speech in Germany and the UK. And this is where the the term objectivity and the definition thereof might differ.

    I think German culture tends to lean towards uncertainty avoidance and personal opinions are expressed less in public, unless you’re an expert, chief or have a doctor title, to make it sound more official.

    In comes social media and blogs, who are more subjective and personal than the concept of objectivity in journalism. These new discursive tools might in sum even provide a closer account of the truth than one theater critic writing a piece in the Guardian.

    Of the many German sites, Zeit Online is doing a great job, but with less experimentation in social media than the Guardian – there are 200 journalists twittering.

    Germans express, or better, protest if a new train station is being built in Stuttgart, when change is real and affects their lives, even though the decision making process was in place and took 15 years.

    Maybe it’s better to express and take part in the democratic process along the way? That means to experiment more before it’s too late.

  4. The NYT has more Twitter followers than print readers. Print circulation is at 951,063 and Twitter followers at 2,696,922. Not that’s an indication of quality, but of direction.

  5. @Gerd Stodiek
    Agreed. And in regards to embracing social media and experimenting with different forms of collaborative journalism, the Guardian is far ahead of ZEIT ONLINE – which is why the Guardian is so inspiring to us. Compared with any journalistic site in Germany, the Guardian is simply playing in a different league.

    @Ulrike Reinhard:
    To answer whatever “correct” means: Well, publishing pseudo quotes like “We, the journalists are THE gatekeepers of objective and solid researched information” is what I consider as not correct.

  6. REPLY:
    … but: as you didn’t specify it coul dhave meant as well my point of view wasn’t correct. For me, it was;-)

    But anyway: I think you are doing a great job by responding! Have a nice weekend!

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