Christiane Schulzki Haddouti on Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:34:56 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Armin Medosch (1962-2017)

As a former journalistic colleague of Armin with Telepolis from 1996
to 2002 I would like to add that without Armin we would not have been
able to define what reporting about net politics was all about. It was
not the then usual neutral reporting about the newest technological
developments, but it was about linking different civil protagonists
in a common debate and defining in a long ongoing discussion process
on various platforms what would be sensible for the evolving digital
society. We dared not to be neutral.

We started to discuss net politics on the occasion of a new
surveillance paragraph in the German telecommunications law in 1996
and moved on to report about the crypto debate. At Telepolis we
picked up arguments from the US and UK, but documented, developed and
communicated new European positions on crypto politics. In the end
this influenced the US debate as well when Germany defined its own
position and promoted & financed the first migration of GnuPG from
Linux to Windows (the tool Edward Snowden relied on).

In this time between 1998 and 2000 every day a new argument could
emerge out of mailing lists and meetings. Armin was always ready to
document and publish even micro developments when other news platforms
led by traditional journalists preferred waiting for the outcome
of the debate – instead of actively engaging in the debate. Armin
was never tired to discuss and to engage actively with the tiniest
new thing. Sometimes he would be as frustrated and exhausted as his
authors but still he would encourage researching and writing about the
smallest news. And we all liked it when traditional paper news would
adopt our writings (often without naming Telepolis).

This relentless micro engagement was premise for our reporting on the
tiring and complicated stuff of Enfopol and ETSI which eventually
rocked european news. And we were especially proud that this happened
with Telepolis as other news outlets like Spiegel online (some of us
also wrote for them) had refused this kind of micro reporting as they
only wanted to reap the “big story” in the end. In general there was
no big leak to rely on, but it was hard work over months and years
which led to the big story in the end. Without Armins commitment it
would never have been possible to pursue this.

 Until this day I do not know any editor who would be willing to
support a similar research project that requires day to day reporting
on small things without relying on a fabulous leak. The funny thing
in retrospect was that Armin and the authors like Erich Moechel and
Stefan Krempl and me were not learned journalists, but came from a
cultural studies background.

During this time we developed a genuine net journalism as we engaged
not only with different communities, but also started to publish
confidential/secret documents to prove our arguments. Armin could
convince the Heise Verlag that this was necessary in order to stand
up against other media outlets who would merely voice uncritical
government positions. We also discussed founding a European leaking
platform on HIP/Netherlands in 1997 but John Young was doing quite
well as partner. In the end we decided to use the instrument of
publishing government papers not as principle, but very carefully.
During our reporting on Enfopol we also developed a new cross-border
cooperative net journalism with Erich Moechel, Duncan Campbel, Nick
Lüthi and me.

When Armin had to leave Telepolis in 2002 an era ended. In my personal
review the decline started with 9/11 and the sudden loss of interest
in our traditional topics – and the rise of a speculative sort of
journalism at Telepolis. Today this is hard to understand from a
post-Snowden perspective, but I even could not convince him to
publish an interview series on privacy pioneers like Zimmerman, Ross
Anderson and the like. He would have loved to do it but he could not
defend it within Heise. We struggled to find a new position on these
developments but times had changed, our communities were sort of
paralysed. I was sad that I had lost the most committed editor I had
ever experienced, but I am happy that he finally could get back to his
core interests and do even more interesting projects.

In the end I dare to say that Armin never was a traditional
journalist, but as an genuine artist he enabled and encouraged a new
paradigm for net journalism.


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