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Home / Press review / Archive / Press review | 16/06/2006



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Internet, a place for citizen journalism ?

The Internet has become an open medium in which anyone can participate - blogs, wikis, and newspapers put together by users are taking over the web. The print media remain sceptical and are trying to find a way to deal with this phenomenon. » more

With articles from the following publications:
Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany, Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland, Der Standard - Austria

Süddeutsche Zeitung - Germany

The newspaper prints part of an essay published in the online magazine 'edge' in which computer scientist Jaron 'Lanier criticises people's blind faith in Wikipedia and the "resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy... History has shown us again and again that a hive mind is a cruel idiot when it runs on autopilot. Nasty hive mind outbursts have been flavoured Maoist, Fascist, and religious, and these are only a small sampling. I don't see why there couldn't be future social disasters that appear suddenly under the cover of technological utopia. If wikis are to gain any more influence they ought to be improved by mechanisms like the ones that have worked tolerably well in the pre-Internet world. The best guiding principle is to always cherish individuals first." (16/06/2006)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung - Switzerland

Reinher Stadler casts a critical eye over the promised benefits of citizen journalism that, with the publishing of the "Readers Edition" of the Netzeitung online magazine, has now found a new platform among German speakers. "It remains highly unlikely that platforms like this will create an entirely new form of journalism, as 'Readers Edition' rather self-importantly proclaims. Although several media companies are toying with the idea of using this new brand of journalism, they are motivated not by the desire to encourage free and independent media discourse but rather by the desire to win back an increasingly disloyal customer base with interactive forms and to control the communicative needs of readers through their own channels... This is the profane core of 'user-generated content', as citizen journalism is referred to in the tedious and revealing language of the German media industry." (16/06/2006)

Der Standard - Austria

Editor in chief Gerfried Sperl writes about the growing popularity of citizen journalism and its dangers. "Because blogging (less frequently) and posting (usually) are done anonymously, they can become instruments to achieve the opposite of freedom of opinion. Massive human rights violations are just one of the problems, minor irritations are another. Anyone can use the name 'George Bush' when posting. Was it him or wasn't it? How do Internet newspapers react? Sperl says postings are often checked to ensure that they are not in conflict with media laws or other aspects before they are published, but adds: "You can't be 100 percent sure. However many bloggers accept all kinds of postings because in the end they can't be held accountable. But at the same time they also put Internet journalism's credibility at risk." (11/06/2006)


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El País - Spain

Jorge Semprun on Europe's shifting axis

The Spanish writer Jorge Semprun analyses the causes of European "paralysis". "The old engine that powered the European project will not be able to restart so easily. We must study history to understand the significance, at the time, of France and Germany joining forces in a common project that transcended the wounds of a terrible war. For a parallel, one would have to imagine journalists of the future judging the success of a project jointly spearheaded by Israelis and Palestinians - something totally inconceivable from where we stand now. The idea of Europe invented by France and Germany transcended national ideologies. Today things have changed. The balance of forces between countries is no longer the same; there has been a significant opening up to the East, power has been redistributed. It is now necessary for new countries to play a major role in Europe." (16/06/2006)

Knack - Belgium

Europe must not be afraid of immigrants

Rik Coolsaet, a professor of international relations at the University of Gand, debunks some commonly accepted notions about immigration. "The International Organization for Migration has once again clarified certain realities. Immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in social allocations (translation: they help 'us' to pay our pensions). Immigrants and natives do not compete for the same jobs (translate: they do not steal 'our' jobs). Naturally, immigration is not without a few hitches. ... [But] today's situation is not worse than that which existed in the past. On the contrary. A century ago, one-tenth of the world's population migrated, versus less then three percent today. These days, relatively fewer immigrants are arriving in Europe than 30 years earlier." (16/06/2006)


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Le Temps - Switzerland

The UN Human Rights Council's tough mission

Eric Sottas, the founder of the World Organisation against Torture, voices his concern in an interview with Richard Werly about the ability of the United Nations Human Rights Council to carry out its mission. The newly reformed body, based in Switzerland, is set to hold its inaugural session on June 19. "The question remains the same: will this new institution find a way, in practice, to impose its agenda and objectives on its 47 member states? And to do so at a time when the attitude of the countries themselves is changing. Most have understood that simply denying crimes no longer works. ... The defense of choice for countries that violate human rights now consists of bombarding their interlocutors - non-governmental organisations, UN agencies - with information. ... With a sole objective: to ensure that ongoing investigations get lost in a muddle of laws and commitments." (16/06/2006)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - Germany

Dunja Melcic on the Serbs' hatred

Croatian author Dunja Melcic notes with concern a "return to the nationalism of Milosevic's times" in her country... This new surge of nationalism is, as it were, a purified form of the old, pre-socialist nationalism under the pervasive ideological leadership of the conservative Serb Orthodox Church. The radicals' agenda consists mainly of the ideal of a Great Serbia encompassing Kosovo and the now lost parts of Croatia. A poem that has been circulating in Serbia has caused a wave of dismay. It pays bloodthirsty tribute to Ratko Mladic and the massacre of Srebrenica and calls for the slaughter of Bosnians. The poem is called 'Kill, Mladic, kill!'. The Serb majority is wallowing in a wave of hate directed against all its neighbours, including its 'cousins', the Montenegrins." (16/06/2006)

The Independent - United Kingdom

Blair letter reveals Karl Marx inspiration

Charles Nevin comments on the discovery of a long letter written by Tony Blair in 1982 to then Labour party leader Michael Foot, in which the 29-year-old lawyer professes his early admiration for Karl Marx. "Comrades, of whatever group, cadre, or international, will be poring over the Blair letter, and, in particular, the phrases, 'I came to Socialism through Marxism' and, 'Socialism ultimately must appeal to the better minds of the people. You cannot do that if you are tainted overmuch with a pragmatic period in power'. ... The less ideologically committed will be wondering if this letter contains Mr Blair's last criticism of America, and speculating how different the past 25 years might have been, given that the 22 pages were written in his law chambers, if only his clerk could have found him some work." (16/06/2006)

Dnevnik - Slovenia

Russian-European energy policy

Borut Hocevar notes that relations between Slovenia and Russia have intensified over the past few weeks. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa visited Russia with a delegation of economic experts. He was followed by President Janez Drnovsek, and now Gazprom boss Aleksej Miller is visiting Slovenia. Hocevar suspects that an energy policy agreement between Russia and Europe is in the making: "Gazprom certainly didn't come to Slovenia to address ecological problems. This is about building more pipelines to consumers in Europe. Among other things, the goal is to prevent situations like that a few months ago when Ukraine threatened to cut the EU off from Russian gas supplies." (16/06/2006)

Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland

Education minister wants to split history teaching

New Polish Education Minister Roman Giertych, a member of the right-wing LPR, wants to divide the subject of history into two: world history and Polish history, with the latter to include nationalist education. Piotr Pacewicz strongly opposes the idea: "Giertych is sending a message that encourages national spirit rather than civic society. He opposes combining a form of patriotism open to other nations with Poland's European aspirations... All over Europe, people are looking for ways to fuse local, national and global history. But there are two countries in Europe that teach their own history separately – two shining examples for Giertych: Belarus and Russia." (16/06/2006)

La Libre Belgique - Belgium

Segolene Royal shakes up politics as usual

The Belgian essayist Gilles Dal asked himself why French socialist Segolene Royal is leading all the opinion polls a year before the French presidential election. "The uncontested champion of the right, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been a familiar face for several years now ... the archetypal man of the right, summed up in a few distinctive traits: a penchant for individual responsibility, reward based on merit, unyielding punishment for offenders, etc. Segolene Royal, for her part, corresponds to very few of the cliches associated with leftist women. To be sure, she affirms that her platform will be socialist, but at the same time, she makes pronouncements - especially on a military-style supervisory regime for delinquents - that would not seem out of place coming from the mouths of staunch rightists. In this, Segolene Royal produces a subtle message that blends radical elements with nebulousness. ... Segolene Royal covers her tracks, and, in doing so, raises the stakes in the political game."      (16/06/2006)


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Hufvudstadsbladet - Finland

Swedens' conservatives and nuclear energy

Björn Sundell reports that the feuding conservative parties of Sweden have finally agreed on a joint stance on nuclear power. "The anti-nuclear Centre Party has agreed to refrain from its calls for a withdrawal from nuclear power, and the liberal Folkpartiet has agreed not to demand the construction of new power stations. The resulting compromise is to remain in force until 2010 and pave the way for a conservative government. After thirty years of disagreement, a compromise has now been reached. Nuclear energy brought about the collapse of a conservative government 30 years ago and has divided the conservative block ever since. ... This compromise is in fact a signal to companies that provide nuclear energy that their investments are worthwhile." (16/06/2006)

Le Monde - France

European project hits Airbus turbulence

The daily argues in an editorial that European aeronautics and defense group EADS can recover from Wednesday's [June 14] stock market rout. The stock had lost 26.32% in a single day on the news of delays in the delivery of its A380 superjumbo. "EADS' eyes are bigger than its appetite. It undertook commitments that were poorly calibrated to its industrial capacity. The price of success to a certain degree. ... However, nothing is lost for EADS, whose planes are to be found everyone in the world. On Thursday, June 15, Air China confirmed the purchase of 24 Airbus A320s. But in order to surmount this crisis, the Franco-German group must urgently get its domestic house in order, encourage an industrially sound strategy and put aside rivalries linked to national issues. This would also be a way of getting the European project back on its feet." (16/06/2006)


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Politiken - Denmark

In favour of standard storage mediums for music

The newspaper nostalgically recalls the times when there were standard storage mediums for music like LPs and CDs. It bemoans the fact that since Apple and Sony developed their own storage medium standards to prevent illegal copying, MP3 downloads can only be played on certain devices. "Should uniform storage standards like the ones we once had be reintroduced at the risk of making pirate copying easy? Or should we accept effective copy protection at the risk of our own music collections becoming inaccessible to us? As consumers we should not be dependent on formats. It's the music itself we're interested in, not its storage medium. When we pay for music, we should acquire the right to play it on whichever device we want to." (16/06/2006)


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Libération - France

Raymond Devos has met God

French actor Francois Morel pays homage to the Franco-Belgian humorist, storyteller and poet, Raymond Devos, who died on Thursday, June 15. He was 83. "Devos and God Almighty immediately recognised themselves in one other. Inevitably. The same lightness. The same enormousness. The same facility for strolling through the imagination. The same talent for creating universes. And alas, the same way of speaking for the celestial gallery. ... Raymond Devos on the stage was, above all, a body, gigantic in his blue suit, suddenly floating when, his suspenders strapped to the bottom of his trousers, he alighted from the piano as one hops out of a space capsule, evoking the first men on the moon. He was a weightless comic. A juggler. A magician. An illusionist capable of being corpulent without ever being heavy, an obese person, yet a master in the art of elegance." (16/06/2006)

The Guardian - United Kingdom

The Smiths, 20 years after 'The Queen is Dead'

The daily pays tribute to The Smiths, the iconic alternative rock band that blazed a trail for Britain's 'indie' music scene in the 1980s. "Twenty years ago today the album that brought them together was released in the Smiths' finest hour: The Queen is Dead. ... Morrissey's lyrics and Johnny Marr's guitar and synthetic textures combine to create a complex, troubled atmosphere that give cohesion to a hugely varied collection of songs. ... The title track - dubbed Morrissey's state-of-the-nation address - gave a wry but grim portrait of an atomised 1980s Britain still limbering under imperial delusions. It reached No. 2, a rare success at the time for an indie album, and so helped pave the way for the Manchester music scene of the late 80s, and the subsequent Britpop explosion that rescued mainstream pop from its doldrums." (16/06/2006)

Mladá fronta dnes - Czech Republic

A Czech underground train in London

Czech-born British playwright Tom Stoppard has presented his new play 'Rock'N'Roll' at the London Royal Court Theatre. The play is about the underground musical scene in the communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s. Vaclav Havel, Mick Jagger and David Gilmour attended the premier. "The play," writes Lucie Rejchrtova, "is a study of freedom, rebellion and identity in which author Tom Stoppard presents his own experiences. He left Czechoslovakia after the communist coup of 1948. The lyrics of the songs were inspired by the ideologically non-conformist group 'The Plastic People of the Universe', which was banned by the Prague Ministry of State Security." (16/06/2006)

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