The German parliamentary press corps makes a fuss about the German government tweeting - blog by Gurdur

 




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The German parliamentary press corps makes a fuss about the German government tweeting
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Posted 04-Apr-2011 at 12:09 AM (00:09) by Gurdur
Updated 08-Apr-2011 at 06:15 AM (06:15) by Gurdur

There has been quite a fuss created by the German parliamentary reporters over the fact that the German goverment's official spokesman (press relations) has been tweeting (with thanks to the Wiegold Zwo blog). This blew up especially after the chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, announced over Twitter without any first press conference the visit of Angela Merkel, the Federal Chancellor, to the USA. In the last few days there has been a further brouhaha about a standby govt. spokesman making fun of the reporters's problems with coming to terms with Twitter.

Here is the translation of the relevant interview at an official press conference (Fr, 25 March 2011) for the parliamentary corps. The original and official German text is here. The questions are posed by reporters, and Dr.Steegmans works as representative for the official govt. spokesman. You can see the whole event on video here.

This is only Part 1 of the translation. You can find Part 2 here.


QUESTION: Dr.Steegmans, do I have to in future have a Twitter account, in order to be informed of relevant appointments of the Federal Chancellor? I am basing this concretely on the announcement by the govt, spokesman that the Chancellor is travelling to the USA.

ANSWER BY DR.STEEGMANS: In information business, you know, a lot helps a lot.
I don't believe that we have been so far churlish and that anyone who wants information from us will be surprised in the end we have favoured some channels. As professional clients of ours, we take for granted that you all are logged into Twitter. Let's say that in reverse: we do not find it bad, when you are clients of ours.

QUESTION: These Twitter items have a news-item value. .... The news service Twitter is not secure. ... There are many examples of forgeries of alleged senders. Can I be sure that what is tweeted is really valid? This can have real consequences. .......

ANSWER BY DR. STEEGMANS: We've done what is technically possible. We know about the risks of the internet. If anyone has doubts about a tweet, I recommend ringing the CvD office. In our experience we have found our tweet service gladly accepted. Since we are not only a Press Office, but also an Information service of the Federal Government for all folk in Germany, we hold it to be right to be doing this.

QUESTION; Dr.Steegmans, I would like to know when the announcement of the Chancellor's visit was officially made by the Federal Press Office.

DR. STEEGMANS: I will have to look. As one of the managers is watching, I request an SMS. I am also not sure whether this way is 100% secure. But I lay my trust in getting date and time as quickly as possible through an SMS.

QUESTION: Is it possible, that apart from over Twitter, that nowhere [else] was the USA-trip reported? That is a new level. If Mr.Siebert twitters because he has time, fine. But that gets into the question whether one still needs service managers when Mr.Siebert tweets all appointments.

DR. STEEGMANS: The truth is you want to know if it is a disadvantage [or discrimination] that an item is announced over Twitter rather than through the press office. No, we do not share that view [that it is discrimination].

QUESTION: I want to know, if appointments are only made known by you over Twitter or whether that is an extension of your service.

DR. STEEGMANS: That is an extension of service. ..........

QUESTION: When I may correct you: that is not right. It is refuted. There was sometime an announcement. The Federal Press Office made an explanation through Mr.Siebert, to the effect that there was as yet no agreement about the visit. The next thing was the tweet from Mr.Siebert, and after that no more information. Therefore my question: is Twitter an official information channel of the govt. spokesman and of the Chancellor and government, or an extension?


DR. STEEGMANS: At the time this happened, as I remember, there was nothing of significance to announce. At the time of Steffen Siebert's tweet, the information was validated and the decision made. At that point the information was available from us on request. Insofar I do not recognise any cntradiction. ......

........

QUESTION: Dr.Steegmans, as an older man, who is not so skilled with these newfangled forms of communication, a basic question: has there been an announcement from the Press Office, that now important information is also broadcast over Twitter, and one possibly has to register as client, customer or follower - I do not know, what that means?

DR. STEEGMANS: As far as I know, yes. I am happy to find out if you are on the list. I am sure we have already done that in our own interests.

QUESTION: Another try, Dr. Steegmans. Do you concretely hold it for responsible that this appointment -- also including the background, that President Obama a few days beforehand plans to make his first official visit to Europe, but won't be coming to Germany -- that this with two abbreviated sentences was broadcast publically over Twitter?

DR. STEEGMANS: I do not recognise any problem in that.
_________

More to translate, but this can go up now. You can read Part 2 (with more) here.






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  1. Old Comment

    Misleading

    "The German journalists and their Twitterphobia" is misleading. Makes it sound like there is a widespread twitterphobia with german journalists. Which is not the case at all. One loud idiot and america's proud 4th estate cackles with glee.
    Posted 04-Apr-2011 at 12:54 PM (12:54) by Unregistered
  2. Old Comment
    Gurdur's Avatar

    Misleading

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Unregistered View Comment
    "The German journalists and their Twitterphobia" is misleading. Makes it sound like there is a widespread twitterphobia with german journalists. Which is not the case at all. One loud idiot and america's proud 4th estate cackles with glee.
    1) the "Twitterphobia" bit acrually comes from a different blog.

    Neverthless, it is also my experience - and I live in Germany - that there is low penetrance of web usage overall in Germany. I would expect Twitter to be very low in usage, because it is not high in actual usage in the USA and Britain, although widely known.

    Moreover, it was several journalists -- not just one -- complaining at the press conference.

    2) I really don't think you can acribe the results to the Americans laughing at the Germans. If you actually look into Americans like Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen, who helped publicize my blog post, you will find they are factually and carefully but savagely critical of failings of the American press too.

    This is not about America versus Germany.

    This is about a new vision forwards for journalism against those who refuse to adapt to the web.
    Posted 04-Apr-2011 at 01:46 PM (13:46) by Gurdur Gurdur is offline
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04-Apr-2011, 01:07 AM (01:07)
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17-Apr-2011, 03:01 PM (15:01)
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17-Apr-2011, 04:06 PM (16:06)
has to register as client, customer or follower – I do not know, what that means? (helpfully translated by Tim Skellett) It also doesn’t help that, according to Skellett, “a standby government spokesman [mad

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