AZ Martin Balle publisher: Digital alone is not enough


There is hardly any great contemporary writer like Rainald Goetz. His 1983 novel Irre was too exciting at the time to ignore, and more glossy texts followed later, punctuated by long phases of silence and solitude. Now, the 2015 Buechner Prize winner is giving a speech at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, which is remarkable in times of digitalization and artificial intelligence.

“rotation symbol”: the change from a word to a picture

It was a eulogy for the printed word, especially for newspapers and magazines. It is publisher Hubert Burda who time and again sums up the Internet’s turning point in very short form: He calls it the “icon-turn” of society and the media world. So the shift from word to picture. The seduction of the image, the power of the image that fascinates and attracts.

“No critical image”

But do the pictures tell the whole truth? In his letter, Raynald Goetz answers: “No image is critical, or contradicts what is shown, or celebrates what it shows. The tension that arises when any meaningful intention of the image is set in sharp collision with the image’s law, which obeys the denial creates in the viewer uneasiness, anti-feeling, and desire for Looking away and turning away from the thing this picture shows.”

A world that makes sharing possible

The picture speaks for itself. It pleases the eye of the beholder. On the other hand, a text: “Attraction is generated” by the “intellectual turmoil” it excites. A world of contemplation begins, speaking for and against each word and each sentence that, according to Goetz, also evokes in the reader the “opposite meaning” of what the sentence initially meant. Space for speech and reflection is created. A world that makes sharing possible. A saying, an idea, an adjective that cannot be accessed through the image alone.

“the aura that emanates from a newspaper page”

The writer expresses his fascination with the press medium thus: “It is the unprinted, which arises from the tension between images and the small letters surrounding them, that constitutes the mystery, simply an endless fascination with the true materiality of print. daily.” It is precisely the “combination of text, image and word” that creates the “mysterious nature” and “the aura that emanates from the object of a newspaper page”.

The future in the world of the Internet?

The other side of the coin: Matthias Dupfner, President of Axel Springer Verlag, has announced his desire to lead his company towards a purely digital future in the medium term. For him, the future lies in America, no longer in Germany – and no longer in the printed word, but exclusively in the world of the Internet.

What drives Döpfner?

Employees must be prepared for the fact that many jobs will be lost, the reaction will also be affected in the long term, and now it is important to improve the company’s revenue by 100 million euros, which is currently 750 million euros (!) Very tight. Aside from the fact that those 100 million would be spot on if Döpfner and his entourage in management were dealing with the usual industry salaries, the question arises: Is Döpfner right in the end? What drives the man who reaches nearly eight million readers every day with Bild and sells a million good newspapers every day. Experts say that the profitability of a newspaper starts from about 40,000 copies sold per day, but there are publishers who can cover their expenses even with half that. What drives Döpfner?

Certainly, Bild’s core functions have carried over to the internet: the desire for sensation, the hardcore marketing, and the tapping into people’s basic impulses and instincts. Today you can do it all online 24 hours a day and night. Springer’s revenues already come mainly from digital portals in the jobs and real estate sectors.

The individual fate of life does not matter

But still: what is the 60-year-old businessman’s deeper motivation? personal ambition? Absolutely also: In business parlance, there’s a great catchphrase that someone “want to piss with the really big dogs.” So with Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk in this world. will matter.

But something else is also crucial: In the world of the super-rich, the individual destiny of life, the individual career, plays no role. From Thomas Middelhoff to René Benkou to really big media moguls. The companies entrusted to them are rather abstract assets for those who play with them and want to get richer in the process.

There is no deep love for the product and no need to protect employees. So, does Döpfner’s course say anything about the future of newspapers? of course no! And it is not even clear whether Döpfner’s strategy will work in America, where the grass is greener for him than here. Because politics and business in the United States are more sensitive when Europeans think they can conquer the world there. Classic game away!

Differentiated format for publishers

The second seemingly bleak sign on the horizon, the layoffs at the Gruner und Jahr publishing house, should be assessed in a very similar way. After merging with the TV company RTL An ambitious manager only cares about the return on the company. considerations are not taken.

Manfred Bissinger, former deputy editor-in-chief at Stern and later well-known publisher of Die Watch, commented on the operation on the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s information page: “In the end, the sale of Gruner + Jahr to the Tutti-Frutti- TV RTL group (. ..) The last attempt to get more money out of the purse that has delivered millions to Gütersloh for decades.”

The variegated and finely woven carpet of print media that passes through this country has nothing to do with the events mentioned. The world of big money and managers has little in common with the world of regional newspapers in particular.

From Norderney to Oberstdorf, publishers have long done a mix of print and digital in a different format. All newspapers have been integrated as a media house for many years, perfectly presenting sound, motion pictures, text and the Internet world as the main pillars of the company.

Successful business models and good press: two pairs of shoes

Clearly, these interrelated areas of work must be readjusted again and again.

But the alleged shift of newspapers to a postmodern future happened long ago! The fact that artificial intelligence is now creating scripts is another reason why reputable media companies will be in high demand in the future.

While soulless managers advocate that the market opportunities for artificial intelligence in this country should not be missed under any circumstances, there are good reasons to evaluate this apparently human-like digital intelligence so paradoxically and to critically question its social function.

In the end, it will also be shown here that successful business models and good journalism are two different things!

“lack of tangible large color images”

“It’s a fleeting world,” writer Raynald Goetz complained in his speech. “We should read things on the Internet, we should have no other choice, we should all, without exception, get used to the disappearance of paper and printer ink and printer ink, to the non-existence of these tangible, large, colorful images, the inevitable part of the newspaper page once it is printed.”

But it is more a question than a statement. It can be answered: the word printed in books, magazines and newspapers will still exist tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Digital alone does not fill you up, it does not adequately address the unconscious possibilities and longings, of which the human being is made.

Those who still feel it. However, if you are so surrounded by the digital world that you can no longer feel, feel and perceive yourself, it is not easy for you to return to the world of reading.

One student said to me after leaving the lecture hall: “You know, I’ve been out so much in the digital world in recent years that I’m now being treated by a psychotherapist. I can still feel it, but I don’t know anymore what it feels like. Now I have to re-learn That’s in sessions with a therapist.”


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