Wednesday, March 13, 2013

German Quality Journalism

Yeah I know I have chosen a rather strange abbreviation for my blog. Also one that might seem rather arrogant. Quality Journalism?! Here is the story behind the name: the German newspapers are for the most part unable to generate enough revenue on the internet. Google News they claim is at fault. Or if not that at least Google should pay for linking to German newspapers, because they are producing Quality Journalism(TM) and the momopolist provides them with much needed traffic steals their articles. This is the story of how nonsense became law and everyone is fully aware.

German newspapers are having trouble - a lot of it. Two of the seven newspapers which publish everywhere in Germany went into bankruptcy last year. This is in part due to dropping sales figures, combined with less revenue from advertisement because of the Euro crisis but also a big chunk is that none of the German newspapers has a working online business plan.The biggst issue in my opinion is redundancy. In the last century most newspapers had their own little monopoly which generated a ever growing revenue stream. This has changed and the publishers are in trouble.

The publishers think they found someone else responsible for that: the internet and the Gratiskultur (everything free culture) in it. For years they had warned against this dangerous place. Everyday they showed the horrors of this place full of thieves, sexual predators, „killergames“ and whatnot. Who else could be at fault for their failed business model but this awful place? Since one can't just improve their business model by blaming a medium they had to find some entity within it to blame. They found Google.

They helped to get our current coalition in power reported neutrally and for this they demanded asked for the Power Protection Law (this is the translation of Leistungsschutzrecht which describes its purpose best): it was supposed to make it illegal for search engines and news aggregators to quote online news at all. No more snipplets in searches unless the publishers get payed a license fee. Well you might think this is kind of silly since they can already tell the crawler of the search engine to not use snipplets and you would in fact be right. Robots.txt has a function by which the publisher can tell the crawler exactly that called nosnipplet. There was almost no truthful information available in the German media about the cons of the PPL. It was a coordinated misinformation campaign second only to the one in the advent of the Iraq war. Here a a few of my favorite examples:

"Wir glauben dem Google-Slogan ‚Don't be evil’ und denken, die netten Jungs mit dem bunten Logo meinen es doch nur gut. In Wirklichkeit will Google nur erzkapitalistische Interessen durchsetzen und sein Geschäftsmodell optimieren"

„We believe in the Google slogan ‚Don't be evil’ and think that the nice guys with the colorful logo just want something positiv. In reality google only wants to enforce archcapitalistic interests and to optimize its business plan.“

Really? That comes from Döpfner the CEO of  Springer who publish our archcapitalistc yellowpress thing BILD (the equivalent to FoxNation with more BOOOBIES).In the interview he then goes on to tell how he wants to just help to feed the world optimize his archcapitalistic businessplan.

The boss of the lobby organisation about the google campaign against the PPL:
"Der Internetriese nutzt seine marktbeherrschende Stellung einseitig im Eigeninteresse und scheut sich nicht, seine Nutzer dafür zu instrumentalisieren."
"The internet giant uses its monopoly onesided in its interest and instrumentalizes its users to that end"
Jeder sollte wissen, Google ist noch zu viel mehr im Stande – ohne sich wie die deutsche Presse der Wahrheit verpflichtet zu fühlen.
Everybody should know that google could do even more – without feeling bound to the truth like the German press“

Ok? Well lets see how the truthiness bound German press handles this robots.txt situation. Here the chief bild lobbiest and „father“ of the PPL:

„Sehr gern würden die Verlage auf eine Möglichkeit zurückgreifen, von Suchmaschinen und Aggregatoren nur indexiert und vielleicht mit einer Überschrift zitiert zu werden. Doch genau diese Differenzierungsmöglichkeit bietet Google wie die allermeisten anderen Aggregatoren nicht an „
„The publishers would really like to use an option which would allow us to be only indexed or perhaps quoted with the heading. But this differenciation possibility is not offered by google[..].

Not only was the whole idea behind the PPL based on the lie, that they could do nothing about snipplets. They even lied about their supporters. Claiming that the industry was ok with the PPL. Made stories up about Professors who opposed the law. All in all the way the German news media behaved was nothing but a disgrace.  In the end the massive campain - rightly described as lying for the Leistungsschutzrecht by Stefan Niggemeier - lead to a law which now allows "single words or smallest (sic!) text excerpts" to be used by search engines. No one knows what that means. The publishers claim this means that snipplets are still not allowed. Most others think snipplets will be OK. In the end the courts will decide.

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