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In democratic countries, one of a given State news media's tasks is to inform citizens about important events in manner which is as adequate and objective as possible. Also important economy and technology events should be part of the news.

By my observations, there are publicly important events regarding open technology which are seldom mentioned outside of media targeted to a highly specialized circle.

Let's take Germany for example.

So, companies offering products based on open technology are almost never mentioned, so you never hear about what is happening in schools regarding the introduction of digital technology and its broad impact on proper education. Recently I've occasionally learned about an open supply chain platform, based on open source software, launching in dozens of countries. No word in the media. Smart city hackathons? No mentions.

That is, specialized media tends to overhype trends, and mass media gives me sometimes the impression civic/open tech is not important.

Why is that so?

Regarding Germany, in terms of State media's task, you can find the following for example:

What I've found so far regarding Germany:

On behalf of society, ARD produces a freely accessible and diverse range of programs for everyone in Germany with content in information, education, advice and entertainment. In order to reach as many people as possible every day, our offers are aimed at different age and target groups.

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    This question was closed because the community believes it is not about politics. And on the surface level, this appears to be the case. "The news" are not just politics. We generally only handle questions about media if they report about politics or if politicians interact with the media. But just because something is newsworthy (or not) does not mean it's politics. If you do believe that this is indeed a political question (as opposed to open technology projects just not having the skills and budget for proper PR), then you might want to add a bit about why you believe that to be the case. – Philipp May 11 at 8:43
  • @Philipp thank you for this input, I'll try to wrap up my thoughts to meta to tackle whether it's politics or not. – J. Doe May 12 at 18:58
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    @Philipp: I think the political angle here is that state-run media should have such a job. – SX welcomes ageist gossip May 14 at 9:46
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German public broadcasting services have a complex mission, which includes children's entertainment without advertising, politics without advertising, culture that nobody would ever sponsor, and much more. Information about specialist science and technology topics has a very low priority among those.

And whenever journalists talk about something which you really know, you get the impression that they're dumbing things down for their audience and getting half of it wrong in the process. That's because in your own "expert filter bubble" the basics don't have to be explained and more and the differences and improvements which get you really excited are lost to the non-expert audience.

Topics are also selected to appeal to a reasonably large non-expert audience. So you get plenty of wildlife and historical documentations on specialist channels like phoenix and ZDFinfo, and little about tech policy debates.

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  • so importance of open technologies and civil initiatives (also by non-experts) in this area is equal to zero, that is not worth mentioning from time to time? – J. Doe May 9 at 6:11
  • @J.Doe, things like that get mentioned "from time to time." Sometimes even before 0-dark-30 ... tagesschau.de/inland/coronavirus-forschung-bab-101.html – o.m. May 9 at 7:44
  • you say it - a hackathon launched by state itself clearly has to be reported about. But it isn't the first one of its kind! – J. Doe May 9 at 13:29
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    German media is not just public broadcasting, though. – Philipp May 11 at 8:46
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    @Philipp, I have different (and much lower) expectations from for-profit news media. – o.m. May 11 at 9:59
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The typical modern news editor tends to be a schooled proceduraly focused specialist in Journalism, a discipline with its own textbooks, teachers and traditions mostly focused on holding an audience, preventing needless lawsuits and prosecutions, and the seemingly impossible difficulties of producing relevant and accurate reporting given the constraints of a limited budget, really minimal deadlines, and a surplus of manipulative public officials and public figures.

These procedural quandaries keep editors so busy that there's little time left to broaden their scope. Occasionally an editor might attempt to fill such gaps in scope by hiring some purported specialist to popularize technical matters of public interest, but here a modern editor as often as not is poorly qualified to decide who to hire so that the selection process favors a candidate's salesmanship before their expertise, and an editor may unintentionally select somebody who's either dull and easily misled, or is an outright shill or charlatan; it might be years, (or decades), before any editor figures that out.

The problem of journalistic scope with respect to open technology is worsened because:

  • Wealthy commercial interests are often direct sponsors of a given State's media, i.e. a newspaper carrying Microsoft advertisements, et al.

  • A given State's publicly funded media is administered by bureaucrats appointed by elected officials whose campaigns rely on sponsorship by commercial interests. For example, over the last 20 years the City of Munich has vacillated between opposing political factions one favoring open/free software, and one backed by Microsoft.

  • The commercial interests themselves may own a portfolio of media outlets.

Wealthy commercial sponsors, whether direct or indirect, tend to frown upon editors employing a technical popularizer interested in free or open tech whenever some commercial tech alternative exists. Even a competent popularizer might foresee such sponsorship conflicts, and cynically tailor their reporting to favor commercial interests and their own career.

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    The last paragraph does not apply that much to German state media in particular which is pretty well shielded from direct political influence by decision makers. But it might be worth to point out instead that the PR departments of large software companies do often have more resources to influence media to report about their products than open technologies have. Those usually don't take the long detour over parties->politicans->managing directors->program directors but rather approach journalists directly through press relesases, interview offers or cooperation proposals. – Philipp May 15 at 10:43
  • @Philipp, See revised answer with noted Munich example. – agc May 18 at 8:28
  • That doesn't address any of my points, but thanks for the notice. – Philipp May 18 at 8:31

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