On Sunday a group of Hampshire College students who are studying in Berlin this semester will join me for "brunch and newspapers." We will discuss the news in some of the eight German-language dailies available almost everywhere in the city, which also sports another dozen newspapers in Turkish, Russian, English and other languages. While some of these newspapers have been in financial difficulty, several have survived tight periods in the last decade and still are alive and kicking. From an American point of view, it is especially interesting that relatively few pages are taken up by advertising, although advertising supplements are common. Riding in a bus or metro, one sees lots of people reading newspapers (or books). Observing people buying them, it is clear that some people read two or three different newspapers daily. None of these newspapers are directly subsidized by the government and only a few clearly are the voices of some political party or movement. The little grocery store next door to me has a rack featuring eight different newspapers as well as an entire wall of magazines. Are the Germans just a fossil culture? Or is there something rotten in America?
Feb 18 2009 - 3:40pm