When we talk about censorship, we usually imagine old fashioned book burning ceremonies, or journals with parts forcibly blacked out or blanked out by the authorities.
Yet this isn’t the worst kind of censorship, because at least, that was highly visible. Less visible and not government-mandated, yet maybe worse in scope and quality, is censorship-based bias in moderating dissenting readers’ comments in commercial newspapers. One particular, if not really all that important, illustration is the obnoxious behavior of the moderators and journalists from the German weekly DIE ZEIT.
What’s my beef with DIE ZEIT w.r.t. censorship? Not that much actually, them not being the worst offenders. They’re just serving as illustration and to make a point: the phenomenon I’m describing here can be observed worldwide right now, and it is growing worse by the day.
DIE ZEIT is a typical example of a moderate centrist journal that used to be respectable in the past; a weekly that upheld journalistic standards of objectivity. Moreover, since they’ve opened up a forum for readers’ comments, they took great pride in allowing dissenting opinions, which resulted in lively yet educated discussions. Their liberal attitude towards multiple opinions allowed them to build up an interesting readers’ community.
All this changed suddenly, when they decided to unconditionally support the French policy of replacing Libya’s Gaddafi regime with one led by fanatical islamists. While they are free to adopt any editorial policy they like, they quickly noticed a huge backlash of dissenting readers’ opinions to their increasingly biased op-eds, features, and general Libya articles. And soon, comment censorship started to raise its ugly head.
Things got a lot worse when DIE ZEIT (predictably) started supporting the western-backed Saudi-Arabia + Qatar + Turkey islamist axis (of evil, may I add?) and their chorus of naive western governments’ cheerleaders for the islamist rebellion, against the Syrian government. Here too, DIE ZEIT is free to unconditionally back the wrong people all they want, but my beef with them is that their censorship of dissenting readers’ comments resumed with even stronger resolve.
All this is no big deal. I won’t comment on their articles anymore, because I don’t want to be contributing to a journal with such poor journalistic ethics. Furthermore, I’d switch to other and better weekly and daily publications, because I don’t trust DIE ZEIT anymore: if they fail so much to report objectively on such issues, what does that tell about other topics they may cover?