Concentrated whining: nzz closes comment column

concentrated whining: nzz closes comment column

Image: roland fischer/cc by-sa-3.0

Swiss traditional paper wants to deal with "implicit power grab" on the "territory of editorial offices" deal conscientiously

"On wednesday, the 8. February, we will close the comment column on nzz.Ch deactivate for most items." with these words, the editorial staff of the neue zurcher zeitung addresses its readers to.

The traditional swiss newspaper has thus decided to take a step that other media, such as the suddeutsche zeitung (fight for reader forums or the frankfurter allgemeine zeitung (faz prefers to switch off) have already taken: the reader’s opinion within the platform is no longer allowed, or only to a limited extent.

Anyone who has read the nzz’s arrivals on the new "community concept" gets an impression of how difficult it is for many editorial offices to deal with the fact that readers often have a view of things that is diametrically opposed to the journalism that is delivered. But the swiss daily newspaper’s exports also show, above all, that many editors seem to have no constructive means of dealing with readers who use terms like "system press" or "propaganda launchers" attacking the media.

Or long stretches, the nzz article reads like the concentrated whining of a media landscape that does not want to accept the breakup of the monopoly of opinion through the internet. Between the lines, there is the melancholy of a press that, even after many years on the internet, cannot come to terms with the fact that the transmitter-receiver principle no longer applies to the same extent as it did before the internet.

One can just imagine how the nzz looks back, not without grief, to the time when the media were transmitters and the media users were receivers. At a time when the "simple burgers" with a sense of mission, who wanted to say something in the public media, but hardly got beyond writing a letter to the editor – only to be intercepted by the watchdogs of published opinion with a certain degree of regularity.

Yes, of course, the possibility that today anyone with internet access can become a broadcaster and, as in the forums of the major media, directly and openly criticize the publications of these media, poses problems. To a certain extent, one can understand the editors complaining about sharp, sometimes hurtful and insulting criticism.

If you take a look at the forums of the media, you will see that some readers criticize with a sledgehammer. Anyone who comments in the public sphere, whether a professional journalist or a reader who wants to say something, should always be aware, when writing his criticism, of the powerful sword he holds in his hand.

Everyone knows: language can hurt. Who in a comment only aims to belittle the addressee – even if the anger may be justified – should seriously think about how he felt when this sword stroke was applied to him.

The fact that there are forumists who are just waiting to start a blood rattle is bitter – and it also says something about the state of society. Even if the complaints of the coarse media about forum users forgetting all decency have their justification, one must be very naive to believe that the closing of the forums has only to do with an insulting tone. Let’s put it bluntly: the fact that, especially when it comes to the major conflict ies of our time, media users are up in arms against the reality analyses provided by the major editorialists because they classify them as too one-dimensional, too undifferentiated and, yes, sometimes even as misleading, is a huge nuisance for many media outlets.