Gray ladies

Thomas Knüwer says that newspaper blogs are all gray and dull.

In the journalism blog at the Handelsblatt (Germany’s Wall Strasse Journal), Knüwe continues the discussion about Michael Hiltzik’s nom de snarks, newspaper blogs, transparency, and the reason why journalists have such a problem having open discussions with their readers. I don’t have my German dictionary with me, so I’ll paraphrase rather than translate what he says:

Perhaps this is a reason why so many blogs by professional journalists are so gray and dull: They don’t want to take fire for their opinions. In a paper, this is easy. One writes an article and gets perhaps angry calls and two or three letters and that’s that. In TV, the hotline takes the criticism; ditto radio.

In the internet, its much easier for readers to respond. And they impudently wait for a discussion. That’s hard; that’s work; that’s not normal.

But I’ll earnestly say: It makes for (saumäßigen?) fun. And it helps test your own arguments.

Now that’s the attitude.

  • If only U.S. newspaper management could see it the same way. Yes, it is hard, yes, it adds work, but the result is worth it. Unfortunately this kind of open discussion will never occur while the media insists on force-feeding us the pablum we see daily on front pages.

  • saumäßig = a hell of a lot of fun!

  • Very well translated. Just add an “r” to the last name ;-)

  • Daniela: Thanks.
    Thomas: Oops. R added. (My dirty secret is that I have to cut-and-paste words with umlauts because I keep forgetting how to get them on my US keyboard; I cut too soon.) Good piece, yours.

  • But… What about…
    America’s Finest Blog? Seriously though I emailed him and he doesn’t allow comments like you have here because:

    “At the Register, posting the best replies worked well. Meanwhile, the open forums were usually dominated by the same handful of people.”

    Using that logic we should abandon Democracy if the voter turnout gets too low.

  • Really interesting post because I find myself walking that line – blogging for a newspaper but not a journalist – just trying to make the ride interesting (hopefully) to some and see if anyone nods along. I was reading something in your archives about the whole point of a blog is a personal representation of one’s thoughts (as opposed to the journalist’s impartial representation of facts, etc) and I was thorougly fascinated by it. So true.

  • Jeff, on umlats and other accents: you hold down the option key, hit the key with the accent mark behind it (for umlat, conveniently, it’s the “u”), then release the option key and hit the letter, and it will appear with the accent over it.

    To find out which accent marks are where, hold down the option key and do the hit and release, then hit the same letter again, and you’ll find out what lies beneath.

    PS And more on topic, newspapers are far too concerned with having docile readers than engaged ones. I posted before on how much more engaging Laurie Pike’s free Paris group blog,, is than that by Susan Spano, the paid blogger of the LA Times. Editors are too often old fogies, keeping and hiring people they can feel secure won’t ever shock (or awaken) any readers. And old fogeyism doesn’t necessarily correspond to one’s chronological age, of course. Tim Leary was an extremely immature old guy when he died. I just hope people will say the same about me.