Media Criticism

Consideration of the general Media Crisis.

creator: x14km2d | build: 2021-09-11 | update: 2022-01-10


In the late 80’s, as a child, I sat in front of the TV with my grandmother every evening and we watched the Tagesschau on ARD together. This was like a ritual. We both finished our daily chores and ate together, then the news. My grandmother attached great importance to my being educated not only politically but also socially. Whether it was war reporting, social conflicts, demonstrations or political developments, I was allowed to ask questions on any topic, which she then answered to the best of her knowledge. In the process, however, I also learned something else. In all these complicated times, you can rely on the Tagesschau, because it always tells the truth, completely neutrally.

Kids, so naive.

When you get older and start comparing facts, statements and reports, the uniform picture changes very quickly. Something like this was also expected from our teachers. One should not blindly believe everything that is said on TV, … said my politics teacher with the addendum … Especially with political topics, there is sometimes a lot of propaganda and political interest. With him I learned that the political events of the day in public do not only consist of black and white, of good or evil, but can be shaded in very different interests. There is no such thing as the simple view of the world that so many citizens would like to see.

After a good 23 years on the web, I feel like the main protagonist of a dystopian science fiction novel thrown into a story. With each passing day, I notice how far boundaries can blur, how I have to question more and more, research and double and triple check everyday reporting. Nowadays, the professionalism of manipulation has reached such a high level that it is no longer clearly distinguishable for me in some places. Fake news and clickbait in social media or hybrid warfare are just a few techniques that can be used by states, corporations and active Internet users to achieve certain goals. Unfortunately, the media has adapted to these digital trends. There is manipulation, hiding, highlighting, rewriting, and touching up. Psychological tricks are used in texts, photographs and headlines.

A good example of this has even been given its own name: Clickbait. This is a media-critical technique to generate higher access numbers for articles. But also other developments emerge, which were not fully understood before: e.g. when news and radio stations were and still are pushed in wars to deliberately spread certain messages. In this essay I will not care about the big picture, but rather describe some specific techniques. For example, how to recognize these manipulations and check the facts yourself. Most of the time you can draw conclusions from them. We will also learn that people who talk about the truth usually have their own goals, which have less to do with enlightening you and that there are no dogmatic definitions per se, neither in the World Wide Web, nor in the reports of the daily newspapers.

Overall, though, the essay also came from my own impulse. Sometime in late 2018, I noticed how news was putting more and more pressure on me and I spent hours scrolling doom. At some point, I didn’t care what news I was reading if it only satisfied my sensationalist urge. The pictures had to be more dramatic and the texts more sensational: catastrophes, floods, the Covid-19 pandemic or climate change. Content became less important, giving way to pictures and videos. Like a news junkie, I hung on the information needle, waiting for the next drama shot. Every little update gave me a few minutes of excitement and experience. However, this was not information or factual news but only emotions prepared in a controlled way. Scientific information is deliberately simplified, background knowledge omitted or studies transformed into pretty little graphics. The news and media portals do not want to unsettle people with facts and deny a large part of their readers the intelligence to continue dealing with the topic after reading.

News is a product, quickly produced and sent to the audience. Every few minutes, a new topic, what was the last topic again? Most people have forgotten it within a few hours, because at the latest when the next sow is driven through the village, other topics are topical again. Who can honestly remember what happened in 9/11/2020? Unfortunately, the classic media have adapted too much to social media. The pressure is on when it comes to jobs, clicks and likes. Overall, I had let myself get lulled by this market and it was hard for me to take some much needed time off for a while.

Unfortunately, you can never look into the future, because otherwise I would have seen the Covid-19 pandemic, the clustered extreme weather events like floods and forest fires, and the 2021 federal election in Germany. I had no choice but to stay informed, but without letting the news make me broken, depressed or aggressive. News without news. I learned the psychological tricks to avoid exciting news. Content and facts can also be conveyed in a dry but information-packed text. I also set myself rules. Only roughly skim two portals once a day. No more than four articles on the most important topics. No fringe articles such as local news from Berlin or another city where I don’t live. The focus was on global articles. No tabloid news or articles hidden behind a paywall or a security message. No news agencies that specialize in short and fast news and sell them to other providers. I also started to read scientific news, e.g. the daily situation reports of the RKI, the United States Geological Survey and the German weather service. There, dramatic pictures and lurid texts are avoided as well as screaming headlines like: Are new catastrophic storms to be expected in Europe?

If you pay more attention to the actual news, you can influence your own consumption within a few weeks so that you can distinguish the bad news from the good news. In this way, you can still stay informed, but not get caught in the psychological treadmill of drama, fake news and catastrophic terror reports. Overall, I have also started to read less news from Germany, as they have developed too biased a viewpoint on reporting. It sometimes helps to take the point of view as an outside observer.

Overall, I noticed during my research how the self-image of journalists has changed. The fourth pillar of democracy, the infallibility of one’s own journalistic work, and sometimes a democratically questionable understanding of the law have become more and more woven into this professional title in recent years. From all points of view, objectively and edited by the trained eye of the journalist, a news story must always remain committed to the truth. Overall, the role model must continue to change, moving away from canned news to factual information. Education should be a part of journalistic work, because not only the formation of opinions can develop a society positively. The own overestimation, arrogance, narcissistic self-indulgence and constant walking in the ivory tower removes this occupational group ever further from the readers, who then turn to new sources of information. The task of journalists is not only to provide information, but also to impart a certain degree of education.

Isn’t it a high good? When readers can say after an article: Yes, I not only consumed what was written there, but also understood it. At the same time, however, people must also be taught how to distinguish between opinions and facts, for example, and how to interpret and classify them. Journalism is a socially very powerful tool, but it can also be destructive. Journalists should also reflect on their own work from time to time. This also includes asking oneself the question again and again: Is what I am writing here really correct? Through my own journalistic work, I know that there is a rat race in editorial offices and media companies for the best publications, but that will eventually prove to be a fallacy. More attention should be paid to building trust and defending it over and over again, even if that means leaving a beloved employer and taking a new direction. Bad news doesn’t get better because everyone does it that way, but because a few people start to break up old structures and go new ways.


In my research I have proceeded as cleanly and objectively as possible, but nevertheless it is possible that I may have overlooked important information. This essay is therefore not a scientific publication with hundreds of contributors, studies and financial background. I have gathered the information by hand over the past three years, and some of it may have been superseded or discarded altogether. I will also describe some old techniques, which are almost not used anymore, with that I want to put partly the development of the news in a historical context to build up mental connections at certain points, because certain structures one understands only really correctly if one has formed a complete background. Thus news always go hand in hand with war, propaganda and advertising. The boundaries have become so blurred in recent decades that it is difficult for a layman to discern the fine details. Therefore, I will also include my personal experience from my time as an advertising assistant and trained computer scientist. My wish with this essay is to sharpen the eye of the reader, so that a beautifully polished tetrahedron of information is formed from the rough stone of the news.

Let’s start with something that is easy to distinguish. Mostly. Paid news, articles, or even surreptitious advertising. Very early in media history, advertisers learned how to package simple advertising into articles. A scientific article, for example, is trusted more than an advertisement for a drug. In Europe, this is partly regulated and must then be labeled as a paid article. In America, there is more freedom, but even there, companies have quietly agreed to set a voluntary marking, because otherwise a backlash in the social networks can endanger the product or the campaign. Having worked in advertising for a few years, I know roughly what to look out for.

First, we need to ask ourselves what the article is trying to sell us and most of the time it’s easy to see. Here, as an example, I have picked out an article that is supposed to bring AI, artificial intelligence to young people. If we look at the photo we see an open web page on the laptop, a hardware product and a piece of paper slid diagonally under the laptop. Subconsciously, this kind of thing is not perceived and a large part of the readers only see a typical stock photo there to give the article a certain relevance. Technically, however, this is a product photo, because all of these articles are benevolently linked in the text in the article. After the first paragraph, we even see the promotional article reference. But since I haven’t seen banners for years, I had to train myself to see them again. Banners were typical advertising formats in the 90’ World Wide Web and at some point users learned to hide them. Anyway, the article leads us to the Deep Learning Institute, an offer for certificates and the hardware needed for the provider’s projects. In that sense, the article is a repurposed advertisement.

But sometimes it is not so easy to see or the criticism of the paid article is better hidden behind some layers. If we look at this page of a British newspaper. At first, we don’t see anything special. Most of the articles are about climate change, equality and social justice. But on the left of the page we see a sponsorship of an American foundation and this is even linked to a notice text under the sponsorship. Also other articles are taken over and partly paid by sponsors. It is true that this is a good thing and therefore it is already much more difficult to make a criticism. From my personal point of view, I have little trust in foundations and see them more as the long arm of the extremely rich. Whether the image is to be improved or one saves taxes with a donation is thereby irrelevant. Rich people don’t just give money away. They invest.In the future, the environment, needy countries, social groups or news articles.

There is nothing wrong with that and the criticism lies in the paid articles alone. These topics are important, no question, but they should be dealt with from an objective and neutral point of view. A newspaper that does not deal with these topics otherwise also makes itself untrustworthy. It remains still the critical point and each opponent can plant with a simple The article is paid, doubts between the readers. Personally, I don’t read these articles and then prefer to look for blog entries from volunteer organizations that work directly on the ground. There are countless ways to get paid articles to readers. A lot of it goes through shell companies, media agencies and public relations firms and is usually not immediately recognized. Certain topics are always difficult to cover, such as astrophysics or information technology, medicine and energy. Corporations and startups want to sell products, and if you distribute ten different articles across social networks, you can be sure that some will read them. Not entirely surprisingly, this is also how propaganda and fake news works, and I will note that again at the relevant point.


Human language is a very powerful means of information. With language, crowds can be moved, movements can be founded, or governments can be overthrown. Since time immemorial, language has been a constant companion of the powerful, the oppressed, the citizens. News emerges in a historical context, but a journalist’s language transforms that information into a feeling, a story, something to be experienced or feared. Language can agitate and soothe, comfort and plant fear in the hearts of readers. But it can also manipulate, twist and lie. Without language there could be no communication, without communication there could be no articles and news. Whoever thought that fake news, propaganda and lies have only existed for a few years should read, for example, Commentarii de Bello Gallico by Gaius Julius Caesar, look into the Club de la propagande of the Jacobins during the French Revolution or read Adolf Hitlers’s My Struggle.

In all these examples, language is so deformed for one’s own purposes that, from the historical point of view of psychology, it can only be used for one’s own endeavors. It is a distorted image of the political delusion marked people, who primarily knew with their own language to manipulate their target groups. So much so that it brought about historical changes that were not foreseeable at the time. Not without reason, the ancient Greeks recognized rhetoric as a discipline and even Aristotle described it in his book Rhetorica Et Poetica in a systematic presentation of rhetoric can be used for the art of persuasion. Even in ancient times, people knew the power of language when they had to present certain feelings, arguments to the audience, when they knew how to successfully defend their position. This is still done today and if you look very closely you will see the same patterns in the everyday news we are bombarded with. Or to let Gottfried Benn speak: “In the beginning was the word and not the gossip, and in the end will not be the propaganda, but again the word.”[1]

Journalists and media corporations know this. Therefore, one must become aware of the fact how these techniques work. The headline alone is the first thing a potential reader sees. No matter if in a mail, on the web, in social media or in the search results of a search engine. This is where the first contact takes place to convince a reader to click on the link. For example, clickbait is a technical method to manipulate headlines by giving readers just enough information to make them curious, but not so much information to satisfy that curiosity. Also, watch out for headlines that end in a question, i.e. with a question mark. In 2009, a British technology journalist investigated this and came to the following conclusion: Every headline that ends with a question mark can be answered with the word “no”. The Law of Headlines was then named after him. Even though this insight had already been recognized and defined more precisely by other people.

Such a typical question in a headline would be, for example, How worrisome is the lambda variant of the Corona virus. It talks to various scientists in the article who give their personal opinion on the current viewpoint. The World Health Organization is mentioned, which has not yet classified this mutation as being of particular concern. Developments of the bioconcerns with pretty numbers and even prettier percentage signs, but the question whether we should really worry cannot be answered at the moment. At what point should we be justifiably worried? When five people have died from the new mutation or only when 5000 people die daily? Is a young woman who contracted Ebola and was in contact with an estimated 49 people a legitimate concern? We will never know, because even the journalist will not be able to tell us. If the basic assumption of a questioning headline in 2009 was that this can only be answered with a no, I come to the conclusion through personal observations that no question is answered at all anymore. Language should always remain a fact and provide answers, not questions.

Headings with a question also go hand in hand with a de temporibus futuris locuti eramus (We used to talk about our future). Every person at some point asks himself a question about his, her or the future of the whole humanity, environment or society. What can we say about the future? Nothing, because it is not written in the stars or in secret writings. It simply does not exist and our universe is too complex to be answered so simply. Neither whether the weather will behave as our mathematical models predict or whether the lame duck will be president again next year. In all questions concerning the future there is an extremely large uncertainty factor. Whenever I have been asked for my assessment of a future event, I have answered within jest: “It is rather unlikely that it is probable, but not entirely impossible.” that sounds very intelligent but just translates to, “I don’t know. Possible. Maybe. Could.” If you look closely, you’ve read all of these terms in a news headline before. The U.S. could reach 20,000 covid cases a day again because of the unvaccinated. Yes, it could. But maybe all U.S. citizens and residents will die before then because of a tipped Gulf Stream, another heat dome, or an eruption of Mount St. Helens. We can’t say anything about all that, and even though scientists can make pretty good predictions on most issues, that doesn’t mean it will happen. Maybe everything will be much worse. Or maybe the sun will just shine tomorrow.

Scientists have written a great many articles, scientific publications and books on climate change, but they will not be able to say exactly when the point of no return will occur. From when mankind must really expect to stand before an extinction of existence. There are far too many factors for that and so far we do not have the computing power to be able to calculate them completely in mathematical models. How many more Covid waves will there be? Only politicians and the news industry seem to be able to provide answers to this question, when they talk about the fact that after the third wave everything will be over and that next winter there will definitely, for sure, 100%, so super sure, without any restrictions, I promise you, there will be no more lockdown. Some of the questions that I, as a trained computer scientist, get to hear again and again are, for example, how far privacy will still exist in the future, whether we will eventually be wiped out by an artificial intelligence, whether we will all just walk around as cyborgs or live with our artificial friends for all time in virtual realities. How am I supposed to know? I can make assessments and assumptions, but that’s all. Computer scientists are very bad readers of crystal balls. As a scientifically trained person, there are far too many uncertainties involved, which I find difficult to understand and evaluate due to their complexity.

But there are other examples with which you can read the attention of readers to your own article. IF I WRITE IN CAPSLOCK, FOR EXAMPLE, IT’S LIKE SHOUTING IN REALITY! In forums this is really against any netiquette and you have to expect to be blocked by the administrators. On Twitter, you can use it to convey strong feelings if you’re upset about something and want to generate more clicks on your tweet. Unfortunately, news media copied this and used it themselves for a rather short time in their headlines. At some point, emoji were used because video creators showed how it’s done. Time and again, certain terms are used to indicate the quality of the article when talking about mysterious, unbelievable, huge, astronomical or biblical news. These terms are called superlatives and are meant to make everyday news seem more interesting. When storms aren’t dramatic enough, they just make them SUPER MASSIVE SUPER STORMS. With this, you can sell every little wind that a person from Florida would only smile tiredly about.

In addition to terms, there are the explicitly placed punctuation marks. Quotation marks direct the “attention” of the “reader” to a specific “place” in a “text”. This works quite well in news article headlines. Most of the time it is just a psychological effect and does not increase the quality of the article. We won’t know for a few months what “new project” Dan Riccio will build. Most articles on the subject are highly speculative and only interesting because Dan works at Apple. So there is a specific target audience that will be addressed. This could all be very secretive. But could also just be a press release. This has been used so much in the last few months that it’s almost unnoticeable if you don’t pay attention. Sometimes scientists, politicians are mentioned or quoted in the headline. I will come back to the subchapter of the authority of the sender of the news or a quoted authority in more detail later.

Especially in the English language, there are words or statements that are ambiguous. Sometimes you can exploit this in a headline to make a topic more interesting. For example, the title “Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot Is Now Armed” is quite ambiguous. At first glance, you might think that Spot, as a robot, can now be armed on a regular basis. Thus targeting people’s natural fear of robots. Or Spot has simply been given an arm, which he now uses to open doors, for example. For someone who loves robots, this news is also exciting, but these are fewer people than those who expected an article about an armed killer robot. Here I have provided an article as a source that does it much better. Another tactic to make a headline more interesting is to make certain information seem ambiguous, but not lie to the reader. News doesn’t get paid because someone reads the article, but when someone clicks on the ads within the article. On the web, only the clicks that generate the statement with how relevant the article is count. This is the reason why there are so many horror and disaster news with lurid headlines. Every dead person makes the click rate of the article increase. One dead person in Death Valley is not as interesting as, 2,977 people dead on 9/11. Both are bad, yes. It’s just that a couple of collapsing buildings and burning airplanes are more interesting than a moron dying on his bike in Death Valley at what feels like 56 degrees.

One thing that the media has done wrong since the first appearances of hackers in the media is to lump every computer-interested person together and call them a hacker. We also don’t need to talk here about the fact that it also goes the other way when, for example, movie, comic book hackers are portrayed as anti-heroes, outlaws and do-gooders. It is not always easy to distinguish between a black hat, a gray hat and a white hat. Some news media don’t care, because hackers can be written out more quickly and that goes over better with the news audience. When hackers do something, it gets exciting. HACKERS HACK HACKERS!1!!! This is usually portrayed as an e-sports event. Most of the time, hackers are doing rather boring things, like fixing their software or blogging about mundane events or collaborating on larger projects in addition to their actual work as security information scientists. The romantic image that the news tries to give us is further from reality than you might imagine. Nothing is as boring as the work of a hacker. Not for the hacker, of course, because he is just looking out for interesting, challenging and exciting projects. Rather for the viewers, who are not deep enough into the subject matter to understand what exactly is being done. That’s why news tends to use colorful stock photos. I stopped reading articles with the term hacker in them years ago, because most of the time it’s just about criminals in the field of computer crime or espionage or sabotage financed by a state. By the way, I don’t know anyone who wears gloves and a hoody on their laptop. That’s something I’ve been criticizing about the news for years, and in my personal opinion, that’s why computer-interested hackers and haecksen stay away from state, funded media, and government operations. You can’t simultaneously criminalize a culturally valuable subculture and then expect to be able to recruit people for projects from that cultural circle.

Another problem is that journalists parrot the wrong terms in order to publish supposedly important news. Quoting Alex Pieschel: Bug is often used as the weightier and more reprehensible pejorative, while glitch suggests something more mysterious and unknown, caused by unexpected input or things outside the code - and - The most useful distinction I’ve found emphasizes the way both are experienced: Bugs are sought out and corrected by programmers (authors), while glitches are experienced or exploited by players (audience). As a software developer, I see it the same way: glitches are a morbid horror aesthetic in graphical computer games, and bugs are serious software errors that can, in the worst case scenario, cause personal injury or property damage. Just like with hackers and criminals, the media makes no distinction and lumps everything together. This shows how uninformed journalists are when they don’t even have five minutes to research the simplest facts on the Internet. Where it says glitch, it’s usually just a bug. But the same is true for other technical terms, such as Metaverse, Blockchain, Clown Computing, Dark Web, Cryptocurrency, Machine Learning, NFT, Web 3.0 and Artificial Intelligence. These terms sound interesting and are constantly mentioned in an advertising-like context. Nobody has a clue what it is all about and most of the time the people responsible for these technologies only boil with water. For any budding technology journalist, I recommend the University of Helsinki’s online course on artificial intelligence and machine learning. This course is at a beginner level and will answer quite a few questions. By the way, there is also a chapter on why people have a false image of these technologies from the media.


“We are not allowed to play on the school playground today!” Max said to Moritz. Whereupon the latter asked back: “Who said that?” And Max answered with an innocent and well-behaved smile: “Teacher Lämpel said that.” Moritz started to cackle and answered: “Yes, then it must be true!” Thereupon they both sauntered off in the direction of the playground to torment other children.

Proxy news is a special kind of news. Most often, understandably, they are revisions of published press releases from a corporation or communications from a government. Proxy news can easily be suspected of being propaganda and PR if the journalist has put too little effort into writing the article. Moreover, proxy news always has a bitter taste. Let’s take a look at the following articles. Musk says despite criticism, the yoke is the only option for the new Model S. Call us immediately if your child is using Kali Linux, squawks West Mids Police. Scientists say low-dose aspirin may reduce risk of severe COVID-19 complications. There’s a connection between the headline and a proxy message. Someone is always saying something important.

In this way, the journalist shifts the responsibility to the speaker. So if something is not true or later turns out to be wrong, the journalist can always say that the person speaking said so. So journalists just write everything off and do less research for their article. I see the danger of journalists relying too much on what politicians, scientists or companies say. Avoid just reading proxy news, rather work to find the heart of the story. This may require a few minutes of research on the web, but it’s worth it to learn the actual information and its background. How often did I read news during the Covid-19 epidemic where institutes said something extremely important. This can also be read on their website in the press releases, which of course is not linked by almost any online news website. Worst of all, however, are news stories in which politicians comment on scientific topics of which they obviously do not understand much and journalists simply reproduce this in their articles without being asked. This then leads to a general uncertainty in the population and even to the rejection of new proposals in the news. For example, how important it is to be vaccinated or to wear a mask against the coronavirus.

In addition, it is in recent years in the daily news are published too quickly and then unusual errors arise. Instead of fixing the problem, news organizations use fact finders to maintain the credibility of the news. They keep hitting social media and pointing fingers at Fake News. Michaelis Mustermanis the journalist said, “All journalists are liars.” But at the same time, other articles are only linked to within their own medium, or not at all. This does not build trust between the target audience and the producers and one must also still pay attention to the availability of sources. This is not bad style, but can be attributed to the fact that the author simply did not know this fact. So far, the news has always been written to a large extent by people. In science, it is a must to provide a bibliography which should be required of everyone in the news, but journalists can take this concept as a model. I do it too, even if it costs a few hours more work I invest in the trust account of my readers. News stories that only offer a cliffhanger article or are behind a paywall are not good references either, because what good is research if only one group can see the information being talked about? This also applies to all closed groups on social networks.

Even video clips, screenshots or photos taken out of context do not serve as a truth factor. Anything can be faked, and just because an American president said something in a video doesn’t mean it was the real person. News articles then often try to support a report with an unpublished report or paper. The document is not published, but is available to the editorial team. This can be anything, even a simple lie, because as a reader I can’t control that. Journalists try to establish themselves as gatekeepers and practice the bad habit of withholding certain information from their readers in order to increase their own importance under the claim that this would only unsettle the readers. Unfortunately, this is a sign of very bad journalism, because on the Internet anyone can claim anything.

“I have a paper from the British Queen in which she clarifies that the British Kingdom is controlled by reptiles. I have the document here, but I can’t show it because it’s far too important.”

Every Twitter thread after six retweets

To which the Moritz started laughing and replied: Yes, then it must be true. As a scientist, I question the credibility of any journalist, and in my opinion, there is no such thing as good or bad journalism. There are only journalists who deliver bad articles and bad editors who wave it through. Just because there are counter-read articles in science, one should not believe anything unasked 1:1 unreferenced. The crux lies buried here, however, that one cannot control everything oneself and must therefore muster a certain amount of trust. If seven people were trampled to death in Kabul, I have to believe that somehow, because I can’t just fly there myself and research it. So I inevitably have to take a leap of faith and hope that, if it was a lie, it will be uncovered by another source. In the case of critical news, I wait at least two to three days before forwarding anything because I want to hear all sides. That way, I can get a more objective picture of the information. I know very well that people trust their own group more, but especially there you have to question everything twice.

Conspiracy Ideologies

Not only since the social media or the current Covid-19 pandemic there are conspiracy ideological developments, which are all too often taken up by the media to produce better click rates on news articles. Nowadays the techniques are so far advanced that it is difficult for simple readers to distinguish, if persons of the public life hold e.g.  satanic rituals in a pizzeria, there are children lizard DNA or again and again a theory starts that the coronavirus is supposed to have broken out from a laboratory in China by an accident. Much can be easily debunked as actual nonsense, because a large part of mankind knows that there is evolution, and we do not live on a disc, which is perhaps still carried by a turtle and four elephants. Nevertheless, topics of allegedly sighted UFOs appear again and again in the general news, which turn out then at the end nevertheless again as unscientific assumptions or falsifications. Aliens and UFOs are always suitable to find a thematic gap filler for the evening news. Just since the drones may be used also in the private area there are increased sightings of UFOS! (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) at airports. Mostly it concerns then multicopters, which can buy everyone in the store for small money. The truth is out there somewhere.

So far, it can be said that conspiracy ideologies are best created in social media. There are no editors or other journalistic control bodies, and anyone can forward a message to thousands of acquaintances and friends within seconds. This fact alone can lead to serious social disasters when millions of people deny the effectiveness of vaccinations or talk about injected computer chips that are supposed to become part of the bloodstream with this vaccination. Also anti-Semitic undertones resonate again and again. By explicitly spreading false news, it is possible for a false news sender to maximize the spread of a virus in a population. Unfortunately, conspiracy ideologues tend to soak up these messages like a dry sponge thrown into a bucket filled with water. The phantasmagoria knows no bounds and the more dramatic, exclusive, abstruse the news is, the more likely it is to be accepted by the mass of believers. Unfortunately, this also happens in established media.

Rumors from social media are included in their own reporting or the self-confidence of conspiracy ideologues is fueled by giving them more attention in the evening news than seems necessary. Thus, this trend is expanded by the individual news outlets only to realize later that it wasn’t such a good idea after all and that they now have to create fact finders in order to maintain their own credibility and reputation. Unfortunately, this is one of the acute and biggest problems of the media industry, because when I see a journalist who talks like a conspiracy ideologue and writes articles like a conspiracy ideologue and quacks like a conspiracy ideologue, I call that journalist a duck. For me as a reader, it makes no difference then, because both spread information that does not correspond to the actual reality. The news has also lost its authority massively in recent years, as in the previous sub-item. Readers can check facts, research images and videos, and scientifically process topics within minutes. Of course, conspiracy ideologues can do that, too, but then they usually take a path that fits better into their value systems. The established news wanted to play along with this game and miscalculated. Don’t play with the muckrakers. Conspiracy ideologies go hand in hand with mental, political and social delusions, but they are easier to expose.

This way, you can bias check the news source and verify the contact information. It also helps to research the author in current news on the web. You can then see quite quickly in what kind of environment the authors move and can already research the first conclusions, the motives. Videos and pictures should always be examined with technical means. In doing so, one can also ask oneself what the goal or the message of the video is. Is it more of a factual report or a dramatic video that is supposed to address feelings such as hate, sadness or fear. News that is meant to inform does not need feelings.

But a another common problem in the news is also when the media talk about theories. Conspiracy theories has long been the term for people who believe in myths, stories and tales, but there is a problem. They are not theories and never will be, because they lack any scientific basis. If therefore in articles, which are to clear up obviously, of theories one speaks, they cause the exact opposite. For the conspiracy ideologies it is important to be recognized, because then the own ideology has a social meaning and must be discussed. If one discusses then however over ideologies one leaves the scientific path and will never come to a rational and scientific result. So the news should refrain from calling the ideologists theorists, because by doing so they only cut their own flesh. Why should I, as a scientist, believe a newspaper that talks about theorists and thus drags my own profession into the mud? But the news and online media also have a problem with science, which I will look at in more detail in the related chapter.

Structural Problems

Very bad news or bad journalism in general can be recognized by the search for culprits. Instead of offering solutions and acting helpfully with good journalism, the exact opposite is done. That’s not journalism at all, that’s agitation, and it doesn’t do anyone any good. It only incites readers and appeals to emotions. Yes, someone is to blame for the poor power supply in Texas. But the question should be asked more by politicians so the problem can be avoided in the future. News should be limited to what is going wrong so that it can be analyzed in detail by technicians, politicians, scientists, etc. Journalists should not bother with analysis, but leave it to the analysts. Analyses need time and rest, which is not available in journalism of daily journalistic hamster wheel. This kind of news is bad and also harmful for society.

Good news can be read and controlled by everyone. Bad news hides behind a paywall. Such news cannot be used for good research and it is better to refer to other sources. I notice that some people have a subscription to X news, but then forget that not everyone can read it. But bad news is the news that you can only read in your own country. What do I get out of you putting links in your well researched article that I can’t see in my country? Nothing. Instead, it is better to look for other articles that are accessible to everyone on a World Wide Web. News is a global product. This includes security notices or cookie messages. Most of the time you are asked to agree to untrusted policies that apply to the site, but mostly it’s just about agreeing to have your data resold or analyzed. Subscribe now notices are also an indicator of bad news.

An online newspaper that cannot convince with quality and fact-based news will not have a chance on the market in the future. Good news may not have the hundreds of thousands of clicks or views, but can still hold its own on the market. Either because readers afford a subscription or support the news sites with donations. If you want to sell advertising, sell advertising, not news. There is a fundamental structural problem, because news in newspapers and magazines had always been largely financed by advertising.But since this monetization model should have been outdated since at least the emergence of the Internet. Those responsible still stubbornly insist on wanting to ride this old horse, which has been rotten for decades. Overall, these decisions come from the management floors and since Cyberpunk 2077 we know what happens when managers manage a project. Maybe in the future freelance journalists will get together and start their own small news portals that make more effort to keep their own ethos high. News from people for the people. In the big media houses with thousands of employees, this structural upheaval will probably never happen.


I grew up in a family, country and at a certain time where television was not very popular. My grandparents had a television but only to watch the German news, the so-called Tagesschau, once in the evening. My parents didn’t have a TV and so I spent my entire childhood playing outside in the woods and gardens or meeting with my friends, because there was no web or social media either. My grandma was too smart to look uncritically at the information on the daily news and my grandpa thought the newscasters were lazy riffraff who were always talking but not working. When I moved into my first apartment at the age of 18, my grandma wanted to do something good for me and gave me her old television set, since they hardly used it anyway. So there was a monster of technology on my rickety cheap IKEA shelf and it was used extensively. Like everything, when you get something new was also exciting and from music stations, to news, documentaries and cooking shows I watched a lot of TV in my spare time. Rather said this always ran silently in the background while I worked with my first self-built computer. After half a year I gave the TV to my little brother, because I found it only annoying. At that point I had only watched the evening news three times. It just didn’t interest me and I wasn’t concerned, so why inform?

The next time I watched TV was on a certain day at one of my best friends. 9/11. From that point on, I noticed super many negative points that still apply today when the latest news is published on online video hostern. There are constantly repeating images. especially in disasters where the situation is unclear TV news tends to repeat itself over and over. There is no exact information or only fragments and these have to be processed in news. The viewer has to stay glued to the TV set, no matter what the cost, because the disasters are what keeps the news business alive. The more people die, the better. Dramatic images of people jumping out of the two skyscrapers, the planes burning and exploding and the dramatic (almost) end. The collapse of the two skyscrapers. I saw it all and the images burned in my mind. Did the information about it also remain? Not much. Pictures are not good carriers of information because they appeal far too much to our feelings. Feelings, however, are poor advisors when we want to look at information as objectively as possible according to its truth content. We all have prejudices, whether we like it or not. Through our upbringing, our environment or where we went to university or school. News can only serve this image, not lift it. So in TV news, just like in social media, we only see what we want to see. This is a fundamental problem, because that is exactly what TV news wants. They want to be seen.

Overall, it seems to me that there is more speculation in TV news. Speculation in an article takes a long time, because the reader has to understand the speculation. In a news program, questions can be asked all the time, e.g. when the presenter talks to a correspondent on location. Asking questions is also almost the most neutral way to advance speculation, because the viewer’s imagination is left to what the newscaster has just asked. Asking questions is not illegal, like making statements. A statement from a newscaster can always be portrayed as prejudice, manipulation or inappropriate personal opinion. Questions are, after all, the job of a newscaster, and that can be difficult to attack from a media-critical point of view. This leads to the fact that there is more and more news before the police (who usually have the best information in such a situation) give a press release. This is not exciting enough, because speculation keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat and so it almost always happens that most statements from the news are just speculations, exaggerations, conscious or unconscious lies, misinformation, untruths, rumors or just nonsense. It always depends on the news station. Some TV stations have a certain target group they serve, which also tends to speculation rather than fact-based news. You can look at that however you want. From my personal experience, it’s better to avoid TV and live streams. It’s all about dramatic images, speculation, repetition and entertaining the viewer. A press conference is still the best way to be informed in case of a major disaster. Unfortunately, most people’s lives seem to be so boring that they prefer to be entertained by dramatic images. Whether they notice thereby however at all, which is transferred at few information at all, I question hereby consciously.

News without News

I miss it somehow not being able to inform me daily, but I still don’t want to read bad news. I like the concept on a well-known encyclopaedia startpage, which also has news articles. But these are community based and are not published immediately. There are still reports e.g.  the Darfur attacs. Only without the News. Only those facts are mentioned that have been filtered out of other articles. Such a thing should exist as a professional service. People pick out all articles on a topic and extract the important facts. These are then summarized in a neutral news article. Anyone can edit the article and not just a small admin elite. No clickbait or question headlines. No framing or hidden propaganda. Just the facts. I also don’t want to see extra dramatic pictures. In the 2020 China floods articles you don’t see any corpses or dramatically rescued people. You see a video of water flowing down a slope or a destroyed bridge. That’s not what I want, I want facts.

Unfortunately, there are some problems, for example the copyright Also, the media industry will probably fight against such a project on a large scale, because they are afraid to see their skins swimming away. This has already happened with search engines and social media services and has inevitably led to even fewer people reading classic news online. But I have no sympathy for that, because as a determined copyright opponent I have been arguing against that for years and they never listened. So it is their problem. Especially the news industry in Germany has introduced so many laws that their news are less and less linked in the net. I even go so far as not to mention them by name or to write in my own language, for fear of violating a law and being sued. Such a service that is supposed to create news without news can only access open news that is made available under the public domain. Then one can also take much better action against fake news and propaganda and there we have again the problem that anti-democratic countries do not want this or why are so many journalists killed?

So the people have to manage to organize themselves first, then you have to build up trust and keep it. Political groups will try to drag the project in the mud. You have to expect repression in anti-democratic countries. With persecutions, arrests or people who simply disappear as they have dug too deep into a topic. Journalists will hate the project because their news are used, as well as the media industry. Then there is the problem that people who want something good in themselves also make mistakes. For example, it must not come to witch hunts or public pillorying. That is not the goal of news without news. Everyone will hate the project and it may take decades for it to receive positive feedback or recognition. So if you feel called to lead and implement a big project, please steal this idea from me. I don’t care enough about news to sacrifice my life for it.

I took a shot yesterday. What happened? Yesterday in Beirut a port hall exploded with chemicals and fireworks. I didn’t look at the horrible pictures in the social media or read the news. Instead, my roommates told me how much misinformation was being spread again. Atomic bombs, attacks, assassinations. Within minutes, the media began turning up speculation, question headlines and conspiracy myths. Every time the same game with every major catastrophe and even my roommates are fed up with it and don’t want to read such things. Today I read the Wikipedia article on the subject in peace and quiet and thought it was good, because it wasn’t horror pictures drooling for attention, but simple, factual and clear information. No drama, no feelings. Just the informational value that I have missed so much in the bad news media over the last years. I didn’t get excited, didn’t worry or get drawn into a drama maelstrom in any other way. I will do this again in the future, because that’s how I liked the news. Still, it’s bad what happened, because the country has been struggling for months with the corona virus, demonstrations and a broken economy While reading the article I also learned a little bit more about Beirut, that there are only 361,366 people living in the city, which is about the same number as my hometown. The Metro is with 2,200,000 people very big but somehow I imagined Beirut to be much bigger. It is possible to consume news without news. Therefore I will continue this test in the future and observe this more closely. Unfortunately, there have been some scandals at Wikipedia in the last few months and they have lost their trust with me. This possibility to consume news has also turned out to be a fallacy.

As of today, I will do without the online offer of the Tagesschau. This is the death of the last German news source I used to frequent on a daily basis. I now get my news only from sources in the English language. There are so many points that I have already mentioned here in the individual chapters. A political and objective point of view is not given and sometimes I have the feeling that the Tagesschau chums up more and more to the national conservative currents. Also the headlines with the question marks are used more and more often, at least that’s how it seems to me personally. In addition, many articles from other regional sources such as mdr, swr have been copied 1:1 and I then ask myself the question of whether the journalists own work is still being done at all. Also disturbs me the sources are not linked and I must look for everything out myself. Why this is done, I can not explain with the best will in the world. But it shows how poorly the work of the editors is implemented. I have read the Tagesschau for years, but at some point I can no longer support this last German news medium. Just as with Mozilla Firefox, I give up at some point when my reviews are not received or publicly discussed. From today on, I will only read in English, as befits a European humanist. Goodbye, dear Tagesschau, the time with you was interesting and I learned a lot.

I haven’t read any news for a month. This means that I have not accessed the last four newspapers,, and I have no idea what is going on in the world and I don’t care. I also realized that it is not important for me. Instead of wasting time with any news I prefer to work on my projects or play with my cat. Sometimes I watch streams or listen to music. Is it important to know how many people have died from Covid-19 so far who are not in my circle of friends? No. Why? I don’t know these people and I don’t want to have anything to do with most of the unvaccinated people anyway. Is it important to know what kind of politics is being made in Germany, Europe and the world? No. Because in almost all cases it does not concern me. The politicians live in their unrealistic bubble anyway and talk the world beautiful. I can invest my important life time elsewhere, instead of listening to a croomer who talks all day long but does nothing. Will the politicians save the world? No. Will the media ask over and over again every day whether politicians will save the world? Yes, until it is too late and there is nothing left to save. I have noticed in the last 30 days that I do not need news to be informed. If something extremely important should happen, which concerns me then also, this news will reach me already from another place. I will not read any news in December, maybe never

After a halfish month I have visited the website daily again since the first of January 2022. I no longer visit the other four websites for various reasons. Since we are now just in the fifth wave with the Omicorn virus, I have to inform myself somehow. There are some changes in the law, which one does not notice otherwise. Unfortunately, I also notice again how my nerves suffer. Somehow I have to inform myself, but without all the feelings that make me confused and unsure. I would need something like rational news. Statistics, without pictures, numbers and facts. No opinions, assumptions and interpretations of journalists and editors. Everything is checked neutrally and rationally and only published when all the facts have been sent through a peer review process. Of course, something like this can also be manipulated, but there must somehow be a way I can read news without getting gray hair, right? There is also another problem. For my taste, the Tagesschau is too close to the government, and neutrality suffers as a result. You can see this again in the conflict with Kazakhstan. Also, the Tagesschau is only available in German, which bothers me a lot. I want to read my news (including local news) in English.

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