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Editorials and Op-Eds


Index of editorials and op-eds
English The Media and Corona (july 2021). To whom should we give our trust — to politicians or to scientists? With the COVID pandemic all around us the choice for Hans Durrer is quite easy: the latter. However, he reflects, it would be far better still if we learned to handle our insecurities by accepting the complexities of the world around us.
English Games people play (january 2021). The way Donald Trump used his tweets to sell his lies and untruths and Twitter's decision to close his account have evoked a debate on the freedom of speech. However, says Hans Durrer, we should rather be talking about the freedom we allow ourselves to think critically.
English On the media and addiction (july 2020). The media thrive on our attention. However, by letting them tell us what is important and what not, Hans Durrer warns, we may lose sight of the things that really matter.
English Changing times, or how I used to see photography and how I see it today (january 2020). Photojournalism nowadays has shaken loose from one of its most important pillars: reliability. Still, Hans Durrer posits, photography can help us to reflect about reality by taking some distance from it.
English On storytelling (january 2019). There is more to journalism than the art of story-telling, Hans Durrer argues. Far more, looking for the truth, for instance.
English An invitation to feel compassion (january 2018). We may not always condone the motivations of photographers who travel to disaster areas or war zones to hunt for pictures. This however, Hans Durrer concludes, does not damage the power of their pictures to let us empathise with the suffering of our fellow human beings.
English On Agenda-Setting (august 2017). With Donald Trump and his lot dominating the daily headlines, journalism nowadays seems to be stuck in an infernal loop of attention-seeking politicians and attention-giving media. It's far better to go out into the world and tell what you've heard, seen and found, Hans Durrer admonishes us.
German Was Pressefotografien meist nicht zeigen (juli 2017). Am 9. Juni 2017 veröffentlichte die New York Times zwei Aufnahmen von James B. Comey, dem früheren F.B.I. Direktor bei seiner öffentlichen Befragung vor dem Senate Intelligence Committee. Die beiden Bilder, wie Hans Durrer erläutert, sprengen gezielt den üblichen Rahmen von Pressebildern.
English On taking photographs (april 2016). The act of taking photographs is an experience by itself. For one thing, it can make you aware of what stays unseen during the routines and rituals of everyday life. Hans Durrer relates how this works for him.
English What photography has taught me (february 2015). Thinking about photographs, argues Hans Durrer in this op-ed, teaches us to question what we're shown and not shown. Photography is about feelings, he adds. And, despite freezing time to a stand-still, photos make us deeply aware of the passing of time.
English Are there pictures that we shouldn't see? (august 2014). Why does the press shy away from publishing photo's of the victims of accidents or war? Would publishing these pictures be an affront to the dignity of the deceased and their family? Here, Hans Durrer counters this argument.
English Photography and its many labels (march 2014). Documentary photographs come and go with a lot of fancy labels. Rather than about the photographs — as Hans Durrer here suggests — these labels tell us something about ourselves.
English The visiting nurses (june 2013). It's not easy for a photographer to catch a "system" or a "process" in images. The work of some good photo-artists, however, shows that it can be done. Hans Durrer here discusses a failed and a successful example.
English The man in the picture (november 2012). On June 5, 1989, an unknown man bested a column of over fifty tanks on a crossover near Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The pictures of this curious encounter by now are well-known. Less is known about the man himself. Discussing the photographs, Hans Durrer warns us to be wary of what we insert of ourselves in our reading of photographs.
English Giving the moment significance (september 2012). A photograph, almost by definition, only captures a single moment in the flow of time. By doing this, it also seems to dispense some special meaning to that particular moment. However, this excess of meaning, Hans Durrer warns us, may be rather illusory.
English One photo after another ... (april 2012). Unwantingly, sometimes, two pictures will meld together in the mind's eye, leaving a lasting and alienating afterimage. This is what happened to Hans Durrer when he saw the prize-winnning photograph of Massoud Hossaini and a picture of the jubilant photographer himself.
English Photographs & Memories (march 2012). Photographs impress themselves upon our memory while, at the same time, our memories inform the way we look at photographs. Looking at pictures, Hans Durrer warns, we should be rather careful about this interaction between what we see and what we seem to remember.
English The good photograph (september 2011). One does not have to be a professional photographer to take a really good picture. What counts, Hans Durrer tells us, is the meaning a picture transmits to those who see it.
English How photographs should not be interpreted (july 2011). In order to understand a photograph we need to ask how, when, where and for what purpose it was taken, argues Hans Durrer in this op-ed.
English We see what we want to see (april 2011). In 1999, Cynthia Stewart from Oberlin, Ohio, was accused of taking obscene snapshots of her own litle daughter. Her case, as Hans Durrer argues, once again shows that photographs let us see what we want to see.
English Photographic storytelling (november 2010). Photoshopping press photos seems to have become a habit among the main providers of our daily news. Hans Durrer here illustrates this phenomenon with examples from The Economist, Al-Ahram and the press information of oil and gas giant BP.
English On framing photographs (july 2010). Framing a picture — releasing a scene from its context and creating a new one — is what taking photographs is really about. That is how photographs, Hans Durrer argues, create the reality we decide to see.
English How photos prevent seeing (april 2010). After the powerful Chile earthquake of February 27, 2010, photographers were quick to spread their pictures of the resulting massive havoc and destruction all over the world. Something important, however, seemed to escape their attention. Here Hans Durrer discusses this principal shortcoming of press photographs.
English Image as oppressor (march 2010). Photographing never is an impartial activity. Taking someone's picture always implies impressing an image on the other. As this can not be avoided, the important question, as photographer Eliza Gregory argues, is who is in command of the situation.
English World Press Photo 2010 (february 2010). The winning photograph of this year's World Press Photo Award raised as many eyebrows as questions. Did Pietro Masturzo's photograph really deserve to win such a prize of excellence? Opinions may differ, but at least, as Hans Durrer concludes, the jury's choice and arguments make us think again about what defines a press photo.
English Scared to get caught staring (february 2010). Afraid of revealing their inner selves, people tend to shy away from stares. In public places staring even seems to be a social taboo. As a photographer Hans Durrer felt himself staring and reflects on his reaction.
English On press photography, context & magic (december 2009). Rather than depicting what is real, photographs tend to create a reality of their own. In press photography this magical capacity of photography is easily used to steer our perceptions in preconditioned ways. Being aware of photography's magic, Hans Durrer argues, allows us to take an informed decision: whether or not we want to succumb to it.
English Robert Capa's "Falling Soldier" (september 2009). Recently doubts were cast upon Robert Capa's famous photo of a dying soldier during the Spanish Civil War. According to a Spanish researcher the picture may be staged. Hans Durrer, however, thinks this knowledge will not affect the way we see this photograph.
English The stories that pictures do not tell (august 2009). By itself any picture is open to many interpretations, often contradictory ones. Hans Durrer presses this fact by commenting on Thomas Hoepker's photo of some people at the Brooklyn waterfront in New York on September 11, 2001.
English Fear of pictures (june 2009). Pictures can and do distort reality. Leaving them away, however, will not erase the facts they try to represent. From this perspective Hans Durrer here discusses the case of the censored photos from Iraq.
English Photographic collaboration (march 2009). As long as photographs, be it press or portrait photos, picture people, they are intruding in someone's life. The only way to lighten this intrusion for the photographer, Hans Durrer argues, is to let the object of the photo become a subject by collaborating to or even co-authoring the result.
English Photo truths (december 2008). Jeff Wall's so-called cinematographic photographs raise the question of what we expect from photographs. Feeling slightly uneasy after having seen some of these constructed pictures, Hans Durrer voices his thoughts on the answer.
English Three laws for the world wide web (october 2008). The freedom of information must be kept as a basic human right independent of the technological evolution. This freedom needs rules and one proposal for such rules was made during the Erkrather Radiotag by Jan Sundermann in a radio interview for Radio Marabu on September 13, 2008. The full text is reprinted here as an op-ed.
English On asking questions (september 2008). With its enormous bulk of data the Internet promises to answer all our questions, provided we know what we are looking for. For those questions themselves, however, as Hans Durrer argues we have to open up ourselves to the real world.
English Politically correct pictures? (may 2008). In April an exhibit featuring 270 rare color photographs made by André Zucca of Paris during the Occupation opened at the Bibliothèque historique in that same city. While taking his photos Zucca purposely looked away from the horrors of World War II. For that reason the exposition soon became the target of the politically correct. Here Hans Durrer criticizes this kind of well-meant censorship.
English The Socks-Series (march 2008). Can photography create new realities? Yes, says Hans Durrer, it may even affect the places where your socks get lost.
English Truth, Lies, and Press Secretaries (december 2007). Pleading for himself, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blamed President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their efforts to mislead the public in the Plamegate case. How far can a press secretary go, Hans Durrer asks, in "not knowing" what he is telling the press?
English On commonalities (august 2007). Notwithstanding its great variety, human culture and imagination do rest on common grounds. The fascination of cultural difference, Hans Durrer reminds us, may not blind us to these communalities.
English The power of pictures (april 2007). Will the film footage of the British sailors, that were captured by Iran on March 23, 2007, once become an iconic image of the crisis between Iran and the West? Hans Durrer fears it might.
German Tausend Worte um ein Bild zu verstehen (februar 2007). Kaum war Saddam Hussein hingerichtet, waren auch schon Bilder seiner letzten Minuten zu sehen: zuerst die zensurierte Fassung, ohne Ton, im staatlichen irakischen Fernsehen, dann die unzensurierte, mit Ton, im Internet. Sah man sich das Handy-Video im Internet (und, wie üblich, in der Folge im Fernsehen) an, so Hans Durrer, war schnell einmal klar, dass es bei dieser Hinrichtung darum gegangen, worum es bei einer Hinrichtung immer geht: um Rache.
English "Take pictures, show the world that our children are dying!" (november 2006). Photo's may show too much of reality and often that's the reason they're left unpublished. What we need, however, is to see as many of these photos as possible, just because of what they tell us, so Hans Durrer argues.
English On culture (july 2006). Culture may be the most complex, and therefore also the weakest, key concept in sociology. However, so Hans Durrer argues, we cannot do without it in all its complexity as all cultures, in fact, are hybrid, differentiated and heterogeneous.
German Bildermacht (oktober 2004). Die Fotografien von irakischen Gefangenen im berüchtigten Abu-Ghraib-Gefängnis werden unsere Vorstellungen vom Irak-Krieg mitprägen, nicht zuletzt, weil, wenn wir uns erinnern, dies häufig mittels Bilder tun. Dass es oft Fotos sind, und nicht etwa Fernsehbilder, die unsere Erinnerung prägen, liegt wesentlich daran, so Hans Durrer, dass sie zum Innehalten auffordern.
English On communication (august 2004). Communication is a pretty complex thing, so the textbooks tell us. Textbooks often have it wrong, but this time they may be right: look how politicians and advertisements try to "communicate" their messages with the sole intention to distract us from the real thing. Indeed, Hans Durrer argues, this is precisely what the concept "communication" nowadays seems to stand for.
English On documentary photography (july 2004). Essentially, photographs are documents, they are records. Because of that very fact, they can easily be used to deceive us. However, we do not want to be lied to, and we enjoy the knowledge of having a history. It is in this sense, so Hans Durrer, argues, documentary photographers should try to give us true visual reminders of things past.
English Mass(media) hypnosis (july 2004). Why are we so easily deceived by the mass media? One reason may be, Hans Durrer suggests, that the mass media do not only serve, but also represent, and are part of, the masses — and these masses are characterised by group thinking.
English On propaganda (april 2004). Propaganda not only does its job by hyping-up, distorting, manipulating or ignoring news facts. Nowadays, it mainly works by setting the agenda of what is news and what is not. Or, as Hans Durrer says quoting Brian Eno's neologism, propaganda has turned into prop-agenda.
English Media realities (april 2004). One rarely happens to be where world news is made. Yet, even in such a situation, these events seem more real when shown on television. The experience of media reality, Hans Durrer argues, however does not imply that we have that much confidence in the media.
German Gekürzt als Leserbrief (april 2004). Die Weltwoche druckt einen ihr angebotenen Artikel, massiv gekürzt, als Leserbrief ab. Und findet das, als der Autor sich beschwert, zwar unzulässig, doch eine Klarstellung im Blatt erfolgt nicht. Andere Medien finden den Fall, wenn sie den überhaupt etwas finden, bedauerlich, doch nicht von öffentlichem Interesse. Hans Durrer, der Autor, hingegen findet, er sei genau dies.
English The future of journalism (april 2004). Journalism has no future. Mike has said it, and Kevin has said it. Both are lecturers in journalism at Cardiff University and have probably thought more about this issue than most of us. That, of course, does not mean that they are right. In fact, Hans Durrer argues in this op-ed, they are wrong.
English Who owns the media (and does it matter?) (october 2003). In post-war Europe, by and large, commercial interests were painstakingly kept outside all matters regarding radio and television. Politicians defined the media as a public affair. Of course, this didn't mean that the public itself was particularly satisfied by what was offered them on the airwaves. Inventive and adventurous entrepreneurs sprang to the occasion, bringing about the advent of offshore radio. In this editorial, Ger Tillekens introduces some new articles on the fight for free radio.
English Is pop music going underground? (july 2003). A growing number of young people seems inclined to abandon the concept of the preformatted song album. Instead they prefer to build their own collection of songs on the hard-disks of their computers. Are the pop charts, based on the sales of legal singles and albums, still reflecting the changing music preferences of the public? What is happening in the underground arena of musical tastes? These are the questions, raised in this editorial by Ger Tillekens.
English Crazy, man, crazy (april 2003). April 2003 was a special month, because exactly fifty years ago Bill Haley and his Comets had their first national top twenty hit record in the United States, "Crazy, Man, Crazy," a first for a white band playing a rhythm and blues style of song. In this editorial Ger Tillekens introduces some new articles about rock and roll.
English We now have been online for five years ... (april 2003). Soundscapes now has been online for five long years. So we thought it was about time to redesign our pages to a new format. The site now hosts over 750 pages and just for once, and only to encourage you to walk through our volumes, this editorial lists the twenty most requested pages over the last few months.
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