Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bild: From the Top, All the Way Down

You really know who's running things when the phone rings, and someone says "I want a story about how inflation is hurting the German pocketbook."

I was sitting on the newsdesk with Inge (remember Inge? Caught in the middle of integrating the print people with online?) She's one of the online editors. A hard worker. Reworking copy from the wire services. Knows the system inside an out. Answers all my questions.

I do a little research for her. I find an IMF study about inflation in Germany to provide what we in journalism like to call context.

This isn't useful, she says. She needs to write about how inflation is hurting the German consumer. Period. She's going off some study by a guy who says the consumer price index tally of 3 percent doesn't reflect "the feeling" of true inflation, which he adjusts at over 12 percent.

The purpose of this blog is not to write about the news values of the Bild. But I want to add a small comment about how the web as a powerful tool.

The reason its such a powerful tool for Bild is because they've spent decades building their brand. Unlike myself who intermittently blogs and has no audience. The ability of a higher up to make a phone call and tell the minion to distribute something, the veracity of which is dubious, is nothing new. But she did it in about 15 minutes.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the power structures are still the same. We can talk about the Internet and how it makes us more hysterical, and less community minded. But the truth is, there will always be people who abuse the medium. There always HAVE been people who abuse the medium. We call it propaganda. Only now it's faster and further reaching.

I meditating on some thoughts I have about the potential there is at the Bild to change core values because of competition from online news outlets. More on that tomorrow.

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