‘The NSA, Germany, and Journalism’

Jeff Jarvis writing about how American and UK media seem to largely be ignoring the NSA debate, while Germans are up in arms over it:

In the NSA story, we are seeing both traits but, of course, we are mostly seeing the political side in open anger about American and British government attacks on their privacy. Germans held protests in almost 40 cities — dwarfing the turnout in a few American cities (I attended the one in New York and was saddened by the sparseness of it). German media — led strongly by Der Spiegel — are holding politicians’ feet to the fire over any allegations of cooperation with American and British spies. They have already made the NSA a big issue in the upcoming national election. It is a major story there.

But that’s not so much so in the two countries where the story originates, the US and UK (present company of the Guardian excepted, of course). Why not?

I think the explanation is a simple two parter:

  1. Reading about the NSA scandals is fatiguing and boring. It’s fatiguing to readers because it is upsetting and complicated. It is boring, because it is boring (at least I think it gets boring to read about). That’s not something that most media companies want to run front and center for fear of losing any eyeballs and thus advertising dollars.
  2. Many US journalists/media companies fear losing “access” to politicians more than they fear not reporting the most important news. See: HBO’s Newsroom. And thus this gets shoved to the back corner.

That’s my take on it at least.

Originally posted for members on: August 21, 2013
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