It’s very dif­fi­cult to recruit younger read­ers to paper because the pro­pa­gan­da against papers was “who­ev­er reads papers is not up to date tech­no­log­i­cal­ly”. But nowa­days we see that there are also some advan­tages to the paper. For exam­ple, I have experts, jour­nal­ists who curate for me and decide: Is this a seri­ous source? Is this an impor­tant rel­e­vant top­ic? Online you get infor­ma­tion in raw con­di­tion. You have to curate it your­self and find out what is a good source or a bad source. You are con­front­ed with lots of opin­ions, some well thought out, some quite irre­spon­si­ble. And some not real­ly opin­ions but rather pro­pa­gan­da.

What are kids sup­posed to learn, is the first ques­tion that needs to be answered. I think what peo­ple real­ly need to under­stand about the inter­net is how to use it, get mean­ing­ful infor­ma­tion from it. That means they have to know some things them­selves to do a mean­ing­ful search. I think peo­ple need to be sol­id in read­ing and writ­ing. There are dif­fer­ent the­o­ries on how that is most eas­i­ly achieved but I still think writ­ing with your hand is impor­tant for brain devel­op­ment.

There was this “Sta­vanger dec­la­ra­tion”, writ­ten by more than 130 experts, on the sci­ence of read­ing. Brain sci­en­tists, lin­guists, progress-friend­ly peo­ple con­clud­ed that long texts are more dif­fi­cult to real­ly grasp, under­stand, inter­nal­ize if you read them on a screen; it is eas­i­er if you have them on paper and can under­line things, write things. It seems to con­nect to your brain in a bet­ter way.

The most basic dan­ger of online read­ing is that you get more of what you are look­ing for but you tend not to look at the oppos­ing opin­ion or total­ly alien thoughts. The paper is still a bun­dle of strange and some­times amaz­ing things, you go for the big sto­ry on the first page but you also get a strange sto­ry else­where.

“PEOPLE REALLY HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE INTERNET AND DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES.”

We tend to have a bit of an extrem­ist read­er­ship online. You can still com­ment anony­mous­ly and that obvi­ous­ly does ter­ri­ble things to peo­ple. They start say­ing hor­ri­ble things and voic­ing opin­ions they would nev­er say face to face.

I got hit on the head all the time for my skep­ti­cal book Klick. Peo­ple were say­ing “Ah, she doesn’t under­stand it at all”. I just want­ed to dis­cuss the prob­lems but no one want­ed the prob­lems at that time. Now, I think it’s chang­ing, because peo­ple are real­iz­ing what the big tech firms are doing with our data. Peo­ple are slow­ly real­iz­ing that you can’t have some­thing for noth­ing.

I don’t see that any tech­nol­o­gy can be exempt from being a sub­ject of polit­i­cal deci­sion-mak­ing because the sov­er­eign are the peo­ple, the sov­er­eign are the cit­i­zens. And I don’t see any argu­ment why this should be over. We have to fight for the sov­er­eign­ty of the peo­ple till we die.

The plat­forms are mak­ing a lot of mon­ey using arti­cles jour­nal­ists write and they aren’t will­ing to pay. You would nev­er say a lawyer or an econ­o­mist should work for noth­ing. I con­test that they can do respon­si­ble jour­nal­ism that keeps a democ­ra­cy alive by that mod­el. That’s why we need prop­er jour­nal­ism.

VITA

Dr. Susanne Gaschke is a Ger­man jour­nal­ist and pub­li­cist who deals with social issues such as dig­i­ti­za­tion, man­ners or edu­ca­tion and com­ments on cur­rent polit­i­cal events. She stud­ied Eng­lish, ped­a­gogy and pub­lic law and earned her doc­tor­ate with a dis­ser­ta­tion on children’s lit­er­a­ture.

Already dur­ing her stud­ies Susanne Gaschke was polit­i­cal­ly active. After work­ing as an edi­tor in the polit­i­cal depart­ment of the week­ly news­pa­per “Die Zeit” from 1997 to 2012, she was elect­ed may­or of the state cap­i­tal of Kiel in 2012. How­ev­er, she resigned from office 10 months lat­er. Since 2015 she has been writ­ing for “Die Welt” and “Die Welt am Son­ntag”. Susanne Gaschke is a ver­sa­tile author of sev­er­al books with dif­fer­ent themes. For exam­ple, in her book Klick pub­lished in 2009, she out­lines “Strate­gies against Dig­i­tal­ly Dumb­ing Down” and calls for a change of mind in deal­ing with dig­i­tal media.

She her­self says that she is not a friend of the total­ly net­worked world and that the Inter­net is ben­e­fi­cial in many ways but in many areas also an ampli­fi­er for hate, fake news and non­sense. Quite fit­ting­ly, her mot­to is: ana­log rather than dig­i­tal.