Why the Internet Manifesto is annoying

Ther’s been a lot of noise about the “Internet Manifesto” over the last few days. Written by a group of 15 journalists and bloggers in Germany, the list of 17 positions on the future of journalism serves as a half-decent State of the Nation… detailing the current realities, and the changes that must be made.

While I applaud the exercise – and happen to agree with the majority of it – the delivery annoyed me. It’s a little patronising, and a lot aggressive. We know the king is dead, but does the new king have to be such an asshole? Here’s some snippets:

“Journalism’s self-conception is—fortunately—being cured of its gatekeeping function…..The media must adapt their work methods to today’s technological reality instead of ignoring or challenging it….If media companies want to continue to exist, they must understand the lifeworld of today’s users and embrace their forms of communication. This includes basic forms of social communication: listening and responding, also known as dialog.”


Perhaps a little has been lost in translation from German to English? I don’t think so. The thing reads like a goddam paralegal textbook! It’s got more syllables than a Sri Lankan family tree! Here’s a snippet:

“The web rearranges existing media structures by transcending their former boundaries and oligopolies.”

Erm, ok.

Surely in this brave new world of democratised journalism – a world that the manifesto so brusquely outlines – people need to understand what the hell you are talking about? Surely the ground rules shouldn’t be the preserve of the über-educated? And anyway, if they really wanted to walk the walk…shouldn’t they have crowdsourced the whole thing in the first place?

Luckily, I had a crack team of ace gobbledygook-to-English translators at hand to sieve though the wordage:

1) The internet is different to newspapers. Deal with it.

2) You don’t have to be Billy Big Paper to do journalism any more, anyone can do it.

3) Billy Big Paper should get into Facebook and stuff. The kids love it.

4) Note to Russia and China: Enough blocking the internet already.

5) There is loads of stuff on the internet.

6) On the internet you can change stuff after you’ve written it. Which is great.

7) Link to stuff, it’s really good when you do that.

8 ) Same as above. And by the way, Google is God.

9) There are lots of people on the internet. Talk to them.

10) See rule 2)

11) Quantity is an excellent thing. Make lots of things and put them on the internet.

12) Your old business model is rubbish. Change it.

13) Don’t charge for content.

14) See rule 12)

15) Don’t delete things.

16) Quality is king. Forget what we said in 11)

17) A good journalist listens as well as talks, despite the fact that no crowdsourcing was involved during the making of this declaration.

18) Dum de dum de daa bla bla antidisestablishmentarianism bla bla and so on and so forth la la la.

Oops, I added one at the end.

Related posts (examples of me being annoyingly prescriptive about old media and the internet):
How Big Broadsheet should deal with Big Blog: The ground rules
Events, my dear newspapers, events will never be the bread and butter
Why membership is an Old Media solution to a New Media problem

23 responses to “Why the Internet Manifesto is annoying

  1. LOL. I still like the Manifesto, but yours is more fun to read 🙂

  2. While I think some of the translation is a bit over the top the general tone and style is the same in the German version, so the impact of the translation I think can be safely ignored. (I grew up in Germany but have now lived in the UK for well over 10 years, so consider myself pretty much bilingual)

    Your translation into plain English is quite an improvement, I think someone needs to translate it back into German. No, I’m not volunteering.

  3. Pingback: Fragen statt Manifestieren

  4. Pingback: Was will das “Internet-Manifest”? « SpiegelKritik

  5. In case anyone needs a bit of translating the German trackbacks:

    Both are praising the plain English translation and quote them either in full or in part. The entries in general are fairly critical about the manifesto in general (there’s been a lot of discussion in the German “blogosphere” as you can probably imagine) including the language used.

    Hope this helps a bit.

  6. Great work! Maybe i should re-translate your post in German.

    (and after that and mixing it with some criticism we can re-re-translate it again)

    Rule 19: Online journalism needs a lot of translation

    Oh, and i forgot one important thing to say:


  7. The German wording reflects the German style of journalism. And the answer of the question towards it’s future: It has none.

  8. Pingback: snowblast's status on Saturday, 12-Sep-09 08:27:24 UTC - Identi.ca

  9. Pingback: Zum Internetmanifest « TV… und so

  10. Pingback: Restebloggen zum Wochenende (7) « überschaubare Relevanz

  11. Pingback: Et jeht so. » Sonntagslese (#32)

  12. @John Dean:
    that would be a innovative idea: translate this shit all over the world, get some stupidity simplified and corrected an retranslate it again. Do this transparently on the internet-manifesto-wiki at netzpolitik.org

  13. Pingback: qngb » das Internet-(Journalismus)-Manifesto

  14. Pingback: Το Μανιχέστο των Ιντερνετοπατεράδων « Postnuclear Ice Fortress

  15. Pingback: Internet-Manifest: 17 Behauptungen [Update] [3] | Spreeblick

  16. Pingback: Coming soon: A journalistic ‘state of nature’ « Benji's Blog

  17. Pingback: A rant before the run « Obergo's Blog

  18. Pingback: One manifestly disappointed blogger « Vincent Forrester's Blog

  19. hi,

    Ich weiß nicht, ob das hier so gut reinpasst, aber ich habe auch eine Webseite, die ich in andere Sprachen übersetzen möchte, bis jetzt wurde mir nur eine Agentur dazu empfohlen: Webseite übersetzen

    hat noch jemand gute Erfahrungen gehabt?



  20. Pingback: Is hyperlocal all hype? « Benji's Blog

  21. Dank dir, endlich habe ich dies ganz begriffen

  22. hm? wieso krieg ich den letzten Comment als Email zugesendet?

  23. Pingback: The pollution of Google: an impending tragedy? | Benji's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s