Pennies are really useless

The struggle for journalistic identity

History shows that where there is no identity, there is often a standstill instead of the necessary progress. Can journalists use this knowledge for us?

D.how we journalists struggle for an identity is currently flashing up in so many discussions on the Internet. The question of whether that still Journalism is. The desperate separation between bloggers and online journalists. Questioning whether Greenwald is acting ethically. Journalistic standards that some people carry in front of them, but which many of us don't follow - or cannot follow, for example because the publisher puts the proceeds before ethos.

All of this seems to be a struggle to maintain an identity that has long since been weakened.

A look into the past: How identity falls apart

I recently researched the subject of highland clearances. During this period in Scotland, the old clan system collapsed with capitalism. Until then, the clan system was based on fixed values ​​such as loyalty and mutual responsibility. The chief took care of his clansmen, who supported him with food and soldiers. Both knew that they couldn't do without each other.

Then, from the 18th century, the industrial revolution and capitalism broke through the Highlands. The chiefs reacted, unceremoniously threw the old common values ​​overboard and whistled about responsibility towards the clan members. Society split up into big landowners and a new lower class of peasant farmers who put up with just about anything from their former protectors.

I always wanted to know: Why did none of these farmers get up to shape their future better?

Author James Hunter gave me the answer in his book “Last of the Free”: With the crisis, the identity of the Highland residents broke, they were betrayed by their former rulers who now exploited them. Their culture and values ​​had become useless.

Nevertheless: They clung to these old values, remained loyal to those who had long since betrayed them. Clung to the hope that one day everything would be the way it used to be. They persisted.

The situation only improved when the idea of ​​resistance from Ireland was combined with a renaissance of Gaelic culture and spread through a newspaper in the Highlands. Revolts against the landowners, riot and rebellion followed. It was finally understood that the former rulers no longer had anything to do with their own identity; they adopted a new one.

A little later, the exploitation was history.

A look into the future: Can we find a new identity?

Why am I telling this? It seems to me that there are some parallels to the situation of today's journalists and writers. If you look at the development at Springer or listen carefully to Hubert Burda's statements, the publishing system that once gave us journalists protection and security has long since been unilaterally terminated.

Today, “online producers” try to ensure that they receive the same payment as their print colleagues, and rightly so. Total buyout contracts with freelancers are normal. The prices for an online item? 100 euros for 5,000 characters, please. And the text assignments come less and less from publishers, more and more often from companies that naturally want their products and services to appear in a good light.

Many “released” print colleagues have to find their way in an online world in which they meet established bloggers who sometimes earn money, but sometimes just write for fun - in all quality levels and according to no fixed standard. Where the reader is constantly having a say and where a professional group no longer automatically has the right to vote.

But instead of text creators uniting, you lose yourself in trench warfare: hoodie journals against bloggers against printers. If you look at the situation soberly, most of them are simply poorly paid copywriters. Badly paid because they don't create a common lobby that represents them vis-à-vis publishers and companies. In fact all Scribe, so that there is no longer any alternative to dumping.

There are so many issues that we could tackle with a common identity.

In order to do that, I wish we didn't cling too much to the old identity and instead expand it significantly. An end to the nonsensical trench warfare that is of no use, a common feature of a powerful mass of text creators.

Probably a utopia.