Sunday, May 28, 2017

German Non-News News

So I'll have to tell this story in a particular way.

Yesterday, a small bit came up over the radio from the regional public radio service....over an event in a Hessen city where a couple of men were detained from Friday night for really bad behavior (I won't go into details but it's safe to say that women did police reports and it's serious enough that you'd normally get some jail-time), and the moderator of the radio news said the magic phrase 'migrant' or 'non-German'.

I thought this was curious and tried to do a search on the city and the event. There are roughly six sources to the story....newspaper-related, commercial TV news, and public-TV news.  Five of the six do not mention 'migrant' to the four guys detained.  It simply lists their ages, and the bad behavior situation.  So you'd read their description and just wonder why it made it into regional or national news.  The sixth news group did mention the 'migrant' side of the story and you can understand the reason why it was written for regional or national news.

So I wanted to take that story and put it up on Facebook via my S-R point, and comment on this.  'URL not found' then occurred when I attempted this.  Through the sixth source and FB....they had ensured that it'd be awful hard to cite this and pass it out to others.

This 'URL not found' gimmick has occurred about 20 times now to me over the past month.  Generally, its always a controversial story which appears to be OK to report, but not OK to pass.

How did this start up?  At some point in 2016, the German press association went and did an update to their membership recommendations.  They generally have this list of things that you are supposed to do, when writing up the news.  It's not just clear and concise wording, and accuracy that make a good news piece.  So they added this phrase, which basically says you need to think about how people might take and use your news for a discussion in an entirely different way.  In effect, you need to leave out items to the story if it might read in a negative way over something.

An example would be a story with six facts attached to it.  The story relates to some migrant who got arrested for bad behavior or criminal activity.  So you write the six facts into this...pull out the press association checklist and eventually agree that the story might be misused and anger some Germans (maybe a lot of Germans).  So you decide rather than NOT reporting any of will report it with five facts and leave out the part that the guy detained was not a German citizen.

Where this dedication takes you?  Well, the public will eventually realize that censorship in some fashion is occurring.  They can't be sure about your intentions or the they regard your news activity to be untrustworthy.

Over the last decade in the US, this went from being a routine but minor problem to being a major and daily problem.  The news media in the US is laughed at because of their method of telling news stories.  No one believes them.

You see the same trend going on in Germany.

As for the detained guys in this German story?  Four months down the line, some quiet court appearance will occur, with what I expect to be a zero-journalist coverage activity.  The women who reported this to the cops will shake their heads over the situation, and the cops from this city will mostly laugh because they all know the key facts to the story.  It's a non-news story to tell to the public though.

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