A European pundit, Thierry Chervel, complains that key European newspapers and ‘cultural journals’ are not available online and suggests this impoverishes Europe’s public sphere. To prove his point he cites the failure of an initiative by Jurgen Habermas, who wanted to launch his “Kerneuropa -initiative” against the Iraq war and the “new Europe” via various European newspapers:
He published his own article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and assigned his colleagues to the Suddeutsche Zeitung , to the El Pais and in the Corriere della Serra. None of these papers however published the articles online. An interested intellectual in Madrid, Paris or Berlin would have had to go the main train station and purchase four newspapers from three different countries. A few days later, the debate was quickly forgotten.
Had Habermas invested a few thousand Euros to build his small website, had he published his article and those of his colleagues simultaneously in English, the sensation would have been big.
Well, it is not clear that this would have happened (and it seems that Habermas’ statement “actually is available online”:http://www.faz.net/s/Rub117C535CDF414415BB243B181B8B60AE/Doc~ECBE3F8FCE2D049AE808A3C8DBD3B2763~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html), but the general point is an interesting one. It would certainly be nice if the major non-English=language European newspapers and magazines published their articles online for free and translated them into English – it would give a much broader perspective to the online audience but is unlikely to happen, alas.
Mark Liberman “posted”:http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001168.html his own interesting comment and critique about this article asserting (correctly I suspect) that the root cause of this problem is not so much economic conservatism on the part of European newspapers but a larger “Internet illiteracy” on the part of many mainstream European intellectuals (including Thierry Chervel who does not have a website of his own). Hopefully this will change over time…