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Commercialised History: Popular History Magazines in Europe

Approaches to a Historico-Cultural Phenomenon as the Basis for History Teaching

Edited By Susanne Popp, Jutta Schumann and Miriam Hannig

This volume of essays is the result of the EU project «EHISTO», which dealt with the mediation of history in popular history magazines and explored how history in the commercialised mass media can be used in history teaching in order to develop the media literacy and the transcultural competences of young people. The volume offers articles which for the first time address the phenomenon of popular history magazines in Europe and their mediating strategies in a foundational way. The articles are intended as introductory material for teachers and student teachers. The topic also offers an innovative approach in terms of making possible a European cross-country comparison, in which results based on qualitative and quantitative methods are presented, related to the content focus areas profiled in the national magazines.
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Bygone news. The journalistic formatting of history

| 71 →

Fabio Crivellari

Bygone news. The journalistic formatting of history1

1. Introduction

A look at the bookshelves in German bookstores on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Frederick the Great’s birth in 2013 revealed a colourful range of Fredericiana in the expected mixture of kitsch, art and competence. Many of the texts offered for sale are not written by historians who work in academia, but by journalists and publicists: Jens Bisky, Tillmann Bendikowski, Frank Pergande or Ulrich Offenberg – to name but a few – all have in common a predominantly journalistic approach to their objects despite their different subject provenience. Of course, this is not a very original observation2 and this finding does not reveal anything about the quality of the texts. Rather, the observation leads to a two-part question: how may the fact that journalism decisively shapes the public image of history be systematically described, and what are the consequences for the history presented? This article approaches the question by trying to relate the form and the content of (historical) journalistic presentations to each other and at the same time to establish a reference-frame to the culture of history in the German Federal Republic. ← 71 | 72 →

‘Our concept is to narrate history by journalistic means. You engage with historical sources and try to tell the respective story as vividly and sensuously as possible, with a very strong narrative undertow.’3

With these words Michael Schaper, managing editor of GEO EPOCHE, got to the heart of the expectations which the magazine set itself in 1999, the year it was launched.

The topic of ‘engaging with the sources’ was less about heuristic or epistemological interests, but rather – in accordance with the occasion of the speech – about marketing. Indeed, Schaper in his statement combined terms which are relevant both in the practical field of journalism as well as in that of (history) didactics. It is known that sensuousness, presentability and narrativity as well as the controversies about their operationalization are fundamental to Mediacy Studies.4 And ultimately, also journalism claims to function as a mediating entity that understands how to edit complex matters in a clear and easily comprehensible way for the audience.5 However, these similarities do not hide the fact that substantial differences exist between both fields. In contrast to journalism – and also to scientific journalism – History Didactics operates with educational intentions, already defined or yet to be defined, which must be accountable for their historical content and historiographic competence. These intentions are based on methodically conducted analyses of educational levels and the learning competences of a nameable target group. History magazines are not interested in the cognitive development of their customers or at least they do not make a corresponding effort to enhance this. Their decisive communicative feedback lies in successful circulation and occasional reader research. The latter, in turn, does not serve to generate or optimise educational aims, but successful coverage. This is due to the fact that journalism as a communication system ensures its existence via ← 72 | 73 → economic models and has to align its communicative logic accordingly.6 In accordance with this thesis, in the following text history magazines are not considered as part of the communication system of ‘academics’ with its differentiation of true/false, but as part of the system of ‘journalism’, and accordingly as communicators in that economically and journalistically defined market7 which is called the public. A decisive reason for this approach can be found in the magazines themselves: the effort that history magazines make to process the true/false differentiation is clearly less apparent than the effort which they make to emphasise their relevance for the target-audience. The polarity ‘relevant/irrelevant’ is seen here as the key differentiation of the journalistic communication system and serves as the starting point for the following considerations.8 This initial thesis emphasises Niklas Luhmann’s hypothesis that the differentiation of the system of mass media is between information/non-information, without ← 73 | 74 → negating it.9 Journalism is that part of the system of mass media which publicly supplies information and furnishes it with hierarchies in order to control its acceptance and in this way to actually enable public information.10 ‘The success of mass media throughout society is based on enforcing the acceptance of topics irrespective of taking a positive or negative stand on information, suggestions of meaning, or discernable evaluations. Often, the interest in the topic is initiated by the fact that both stands are possible.’11

Accordingly, relevance is a claim to hierarchy over potential information, which is established by journalistic actors. The formation of an audience and therewith the increased chance of successful communication, depends on its acceptance,12 which again enables a public to be sustained. From a journalistic perspective, creating a public is success. This success is tabulated in categories such as reach, quota or circulation and sustainability, i.e. in spatial and temporal expansion or at least measured in the spatial and temporal stability of communication. Measuring the success is existential for the system, because it determines whether an offer is repeated, a magazine continued or soon taken off the market. Not only does this apply ← 74 | 75 → to the traditional news market on the radio, television and multi-media, but also to journalistic print media and subsequently also to magazines whose special field of history magazines is to be discussed here.

The leading questions therefore are: what are the consequences which the market orientation of history magazines entails for the history presented? How can this be examined systematically? And what kind of history is created as a consequence? The underlying question here is also how on this basis can the systematically-discrete communication systems of journalism and historiography be related to each other anew? Inferrentially, it may be more fruitful (and go beyond the scope of the examination of magazines) to look for the interfaces not on a semantic, but on a narrative level, which again is not only to be observed in the text,13 but rather brings into play the multi-modality of magazines. First, however, the medial location of history magazines will once more be illustrated against this background.

2. The economy of history

It sounds as though efforts and goals are mutually secured if historico-journalistic endeavours merge with institutions committed to education. Since 2007 GEO EPOCHE has been working with the private online portal ‘Zentrale für Unterrichtsmedien im Internet e.V.’ (ZUM, Centre for teaching tools online), a service which has existed since 1995 and which enjoys great popularity among teachers. The underlying consideration is, at least on the part of the publisher, a pure marketing strategy, because such cooperation in the scope of a multi-channel strategy strengthens ← 75 | 76 → general awareness of the services14 by using different channels to address target groups and disseminators. By working together with partners from the educational sector, mass media are able to label their products not only as entertainment, but also as correct and historically informative in terms of content. In this way, the recurring criticism of historical and educational experts who claim that entertaining history presentations are irrelevant and inadequate can be met. In return, the educational institutions (and their representatives) profit from the professionalization of the coverage revenues of established media authorities.

The German TV channel ZDF follows the same strategy in the production of the TV series ‘Die Deutschen’ (‘The Germans’, 2008), for which the Association of German History teachers was won as a cooperating partner, under whose auspices additional teaching material was created and provided on the programme’s website.15 The same association with its chairman also supports the jury of the ‘History Award’ competition, which is organised by the German spin-off of the American Pay-TV channel ‘History Channel’ together with the magazine FOCUS SCHULE ONLINE and P.M. HISTORY, and which awards prizes to school projects, amongst other things.16

As already mentioned, this effectively places understanding between historians, educationalists and journalists primarily at the service of the marketing strategies of history marketeers. For such activities, marketing reserves the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ in readiness. This describes a form of practice that strategically establishes and communicates the socially relevant behaviour of a company.17 ← 76 | 77 →

Accordingly, history magazines do not operate randomly, but systematically in the market for magazines. The authentication process of system-spanning cooperation by subject experts does not serve to generate knowledge, but to generate sales.18

The products are headed for the magazine market as so-called ‘special interest magazines’. These include magazines which stand out against ‘general interest magazines’ in that they are dedicated to a special topic (in this case ‘history’). They differ from ‘very special interest magazines’ in that they do not further specialise thematically or methodically, as would be the case if they concentrated on the Middle Ages, military history or living history, for instance.19 In contrast to scientific journals, history magazines operate under the name of audience magazines, which means that their target group does not primarily consume the magazines for professional or functional purposes. They are not an expert audience.20 This does not exclude the possibility that pupils and students, lecturers and teachers use the content and pictorial material of the magazines for professional purposes. Their thematic design and narrative structure, however, follows neither the system of school curricula nor the principles of specialised manuals, but those of magazines, utilising elements such as picture-text-cover, editorials, disclaimer, letters from readers, picture galleries, features, and many more.

The activities within a huge audience-market most evidently reveal themselves in the fact that the high-circulation publications in Germany appear as so-called ‘line extensions’ of famous journalistic family brands, such as P.M. HISTORY, SPIEGEL GESCHICHTE, GEO EPOCHE or ZEIT GESCHICHTE.21 Such ‘line extensions’ serve to diversify established ← 77 | 78 → brands, not only in terms of sales revenues, but also in terms of advertising effects for the entire product family. Although BILD does not (yet) have a history magazine – despite many another extension – the explanation given by the publishing director Christian Nienhaus in an interview with ‘kress report’ in 2003 may nonetheless apply to the entire industry:

‘Our strategic activities of line extension follow the primary aim of supporting, enhancing and expanding the brand “BILD”. […] The decisive criterion for all these activities is the recognition of the features of our brand “BILD”.’22

So as to enhance this, the layout, design and content of these publications are strongly aligned with the corporate design of the family brands. Accordingly, GEO EPOCHE, for instance, presents a basic black frame on the cover page as part of a varying colour code running through the product family. The logo clearly signals affiliation anyway. Similarly, this can also be observed with ZEIT GESCHICHTE, SPIEGEL GESCHICHTE and P.M. HISTORY.23 Cross-media services such as supplementary books, DVDs and CD-ROMs also comply with this strategy, as do other sales formats, for instance the multiple use of contributions in the different branches of a family brand which function as journalistic cross-financing. In this way, additional income is generated, expenses are avoided and the multi-channel effect mentioned already is especially used.

Since these are marketing strategies, they pursue specific communicative aims alongside economic aims. These lie in claiming ‘history’ as a field of competence for publishers and magazines, because the brand values originating from the family brand are a result of their journalistic tradition. Yet ← 78 | 79 → none of the best-selling line extensions originate from a publisher whose reputation is based on the publication of historical topics, let alone their research.

This claim to competences in historical presentation shall be further examined in what follows, since it fills the gap between journalistic form and historiographic content. So it becomes possible to relate form and content to each other in the way in which historiography, journalism and the public all do.

In showing their presentational competences, history magazines emphasise their relevance as interpretational and complementary media for a public interested in historical communication. In this way, they present as always a part of the news which they allow to happen; or more precisely, as a part of the communication which they stage. However, they achieve this not only by merely formulating claims, but also by their journalistic performance. The latter is understood here as the formatting of history as narratives of and about events; in other words the establishing of (historical) events in a narrative way. In constituting historical events, historiographic and journalistic procedures meet – or may be differentiated by this.

3. History and event

It has long been accepted that in historiography ‘event and presentation converge in history’24, but it is only rarely accounted for in practice.25 With the ‘linguistic turn’ this insight turned into a permanent irritation for cultural studies, which, before and after the turn, took into account the narrative foundations of historiography in various contexts of discussion.26 ← 79 | 80 → In his consideration of the relation between event and structure in historiography Rheinhart Koselleck in 1979 by drawing upon the discussion of the research group ‘Poetik und Hermeneutik’ defines a minimum amount of ‘before and after’ as the difference which is constitutive for events,27 i.e. the duty upon historiographical ways of presentation to adhere to the ‘obligation of chronological order’.28 Accordingly, the before and the after constitute the range of meaning of a narrative. This means the necessity to make the ‘sequence of the historical time the guidelines for a presentation’ in order to be able to narrate event correlations in the irreversibility of their sequences.29 In his argumentation Koselleck especially focused on the narrative operations which keep history narratable, and systematically ascertained that ‘“events” can only be told; “structures” can only be described’.30 ← 80 | 81 →

In this way, history and journalism share the narrative interest in the event. This becomes observable when journalism and historiography are institutionally interwoven with each other, in history magazines, for example, or in historical documentary films. In this respect, the historical constitution of an event shall first be clarified here, and the journalistic subsequently.

If, in accordance with Koselleck, it is the historiographic access that constitutes the event then the question about the pre-medial reality arises and at the same time is settled in favour of a constructivist solution. This decision is made against the backdrop that in media theory three concepts of the relation between reality and media reality have been established, in this case of event and news.31

Accordingly, the first concept understands the event as a pre-medial date, which is chosen by mass media and which raises the question about the selection criteria of the media, which will be addressed later. A further concept also assumes an ontologically accessible pre-medial reality, but includes the construction capacity of the media in establishing the news about the event. The third conception negates the idea of a medial representation of the (historical) reality and assumes that media generate events. This basically eliminates the discrepancy between real culture and media culture. In this way, Siegfried J. Schmid drawing on Luhmann’s dictum of the conditionality of our knowledge about the world by mass media states:32

‘The dualism of life reality and media reality, which is nowadays still invoked (and, of course, ontologically interpreted) by many, is rendered obsolete. The construction of every single person’s reality as a function of their media socialisation as well as their media environment, and aligned by the meaning-giving programmes of media culture, has long since become a part of media reality, and not only its other.’33 The current text ← 81 | 82 → prefers this definition for ontological rather than epistemological reasons, since historical sources do not depict anything other than the remains of medial configurations, i.e. past accesses to the environment or the world and debates with the environment of the world. Therefore, history is also at best the reconstruction of past media configurations based on their traces.

Thus, thanks especially to their constitutive connection to the media cultures, which generate them, events can be read not in terms of a reality which is foreign to them, but with regard to the equally real structures of this medial order. In so doing, media theory would catch up with what Koselleck meant with his statement that structures were only tangible ‘in the medium of events in which structures are articulated, which shine through them’, because they are narrative structures.34

Events are processes of condensed communication. Not only does this apply to their respective (historical) time frame, but also to historiographic recourses. In order to be able to keep history narratable and observable as event, selection processes, which operate along specific differences, are necessary on three essential levels. These are (1) the level of the choice of object, then (2) the level of chronological demarcation, and lastly (3) the level of form of presentation. Every narrative form has to face these choices, as does the journalistic and thus the historico-journalistic form.

These decisions bear consequences in a twofold way. On the one hand they define the object, the boundaries and the course of the respective historical presentation of events. Accordingly, they function to create narrative coherence. On the other hand, by decisionistically establishing historiographic markings outside the text, they influence the field of historical culture, which obtains its structure and form from the data and topics and its logic from the presentations. From a historico-cultural perspective, those developments are considered to be historical events whose eventful nature is affirmed by follow-up communication. Naturally, this works irrespective of historical evaluations or consensus in questions of detail. ← 82 | 83 →

In particular, the decisions are initially a selection of content (1), which has to define the object of the historical examination and the historiographic presentation based on this. This decision operates – in a similar way to the journalistic difference – according to the difference relating to what is relevant and irrelevant. As early as 1979 Karlheinz Stierle complained about this: ‘The criterion of the relevance of history, however, which determines the reason for its selection and articulation, arises from the difference of beginning and ending of the narration and the implicit conceptual opposition, which becomes a fact in this difference.’35

However, this definition appears too tautological for a productive adaptation regarding the mass media history culture, because it only argues on a textually-immanent basis and thereby determines the relevance of the story as a result of its creation. If, however, relevance is understood as attributed by an author and consequently by an audience that carries out (or refuses) the prize-giving selection of the author in the mass media market, and balances the measurable integrability of this decision in its range and sustainability, then also reference systems outside the text are brought to account in form of discourses, which integrate historiography in society and indicate selection according to relevance as social action. History that operates in a public space shaped by mass media is necessarily oriented according to established attention-strategies and cannot autonomously align its decisions of relevance, but uses the established criteria of the media market. In communication studies, these criteria are known as ‘news values’, and it has to be asked how far news values can be observed as a matrix for the object selection and therewith the constitution of popular history.

Of course, historical objects do not already constitute historical messages. In order to keep historical events or event constellations narratable they must, according to Koselleck, be able to provide a before and after. The chronological selection (2) applies here, which separates events ‘from the infinity of the happenings’ by means of the difference between before and after and which frames the object. In Koselleck’s reading ← 83 | 84 → of the historiographic procedure the before and after are given values whose distance constitutes the event in a narrative way. It is, however, surprising that he does not discuss in how far the historiographic constitution of an event does not find this difference a priori, but at the same time creates it, even though his own thesis (namely that the structures become observable only through the presentation of the events) could be splendidly illustrated in this way. It would then become apparent that the chronology, as it were, as ‘super-structure’ of history is only created with and through events, both collective or individual events, which become speak-able and therewith reflect-able only through chronological milestones (such as public holidays or birthdays) as a third element between before and after. Seen in this way, before and after are turned into the difference of two conditions or as Lorenz Engell emphasises: ‘due to the events “before” and “after” become distinguishable – and not vice versa.’36 Thereby, the notion of event has moved closer to the functional understanding of ‘information’ described by Gregory Bateson, who, as is well-known, defined this as ‘difference that makes a difference in some later event’.37 The initial and thereby decisive difference is that which does not regard information as condition, but as the result of the difference of two conditions. The advantage of this point of view lies in avoiding container metaphors and the implied media logic in favour of understanding communication as the selection of meaning.

The fact that, additionally, an event-related time structure must be established in the transformation of happenings into history, which in turn can be described as selective act or at least as a construction, was pointed ← 84 | 85 → out again by Stierle: ‘The events are dissolved from their incalculable synchronic and diachronic interconnection with the entire global context and put into a new diachronic context, which has a beginning and an ending and in which every event receives its place with regard to beginning and ending.’38

Beginning and ending are therefore not simply the result of pragmatic decisions, which ensure the communicability of an object by fitting the time narrated into a manageable narration time. Not only do beginning and ending have far-reaching consequences for the internal structure of the narration, but, as part of the collective history, constitute markers which structure the history as unique collective, at least temporarily. All beginnings and endings which are fed into the historico-cultural discourse by an accepted form of presentation, determine dates and facts as points of reference for the historical culture of knowledge and thereby also receive their relevance for the public.

A further and similarly fundamental selection operation serves (3) the inner order of the areas delimited by the chronological selection. So the question concerns how the area separated from the infinity of what happens is organised in a narrative way. These questions were also addressed by the working group ‘Poetik und Hermeneutik’ and hence the relation between fiction and factuality was fathomed anew. One can say ‘anew’, because already in the early years of historical hermeneutics these relations were reflected, albeit with a different methodology. This was also ascertained by Hans Robert Jauß who in response to Johann Gustav Droysen sketched out the three fictions of historical narration: ‘The first of these fictions is the “illusion of the complete sequence”.’ Although every historian knew that our historical knowledge always remains incomplete the predominating form of narration inspires ‘the illusion and wants to create it as if we had a complete sequence, a cohesive line of events, motives and purposes of the historical things before us’.39 ← 85 | 86 →

‘The second fiction of traditional narrative historiography is the “illusion of the first beginning and the definite ending”’, Jauß further says.40 This statement, which is indirectly tied to Koselleck’s definition of event, expands the difference of the before-and-after functioning as chronological order to a chronological frame, which now also opens and closes the narration.

‘The third fiction of traditional narrative historiography is the “illusion of an objective picture of the past”.’41 This statement mobilises a whole range of decisions relevant in narrative practice in the constitution of historiographic texts. It is thereby, on the one side, about a narrative attitude which establishes its creditability on the linguistic level by understandable syntagmatics and paradigmatics and which in the film ‘mutatis mutandis’ corresponds to the construction principle of ‘continuity’ (which does not mean that it cannot be the aim of other literary-aesthetic procedures to subvert exactly these traditional formulas). Moreover, it is about those relevant authorisation procedures which formally account for the text being scientific and which discursively certify the story. They suggest the correctness of the things presented with regard to an extra-textual referent and thereby again and again confirm the idea of history as representation of the past and not as its creation. They are manifested in the aspects of the narration, which Gerard Genette describes as ‘modus’, for instance with regard to the perspective of the presentation, or also as ‘voice’, with regard to the mediating entity.42

A clear difference can be seen here between scientific and journalistic texts: no matter how the specific narrative procedures are laid out they all communicate the characteristics of authorship in factual texts: the sovereignty over the object, i.e. the competence of presentation. Procedures to question the authorial position or even meta-reflexive discussions about authorial access to the topic are unknown to journalistic texts. Even in those cases in which commentary and research is the object and their subjectivity ← 86 | 87 → turns into a part of the rhetoric, they do not question the circumstances as narrative construction. Having doubts about one’s own doings undermines the journalistic claim to relevance. The corresponding self-criticism is institutionally outsourced or always affects the others in the coverage, which is indicated, for instance, by the fact that nowadays hardly any newspaper can do without a media section. This mass media self-observation does not function as self-irritation, but self-assurance. Scientific texts, in contrast, shall ideally bear this in mind and reflect on it.43

Authentication strategies not only exist within the main text body, but also without, in para-texts such as in annotations, the cover and the blurb or the preface and epilogue in specialist literature. This concept has already to some extent been a fruitful one for media analyses.44 This may become relevant for history magazines if, for instance, cover design, list of contents, and editorials are analysed. If, for example, GEO EPOCHE reassures with a disclaimer in the publication details that while they try to guarantee the authenticity of the pictures by thorough research they cannot always ensure this, then this reassurance is such a para-text, which directly effects the presentation because it immunises a far-reaching use of pictures against alleged criticism even if the main problem of the popular use of pictures is thereby left unaddressed (more on this below). First and foremost, however, this is a claim to competence which signalises the source-critical use of picture material. The criteria and the methods of examination, however, remain in the dark. Once again the difference from scientific procedures of event construction is indicated, because journalism must not keep the methods of object selection and the form of presentation transparent. It establishes its claim to relevance in a different way – by means of news values.

The important aspect of these statements on the logic of construction of narrations is that events are generally organised and made available ← 87 | 88 → via narrative decisions in the form of describable selection processes. This applies to historical as well as to current events. And it also applies to the present realisation of historical events. The constitution of events not only affects the events, which now as such are in the world, but also their narrative creators who thereby performatively express their event competence and who can apply their topical claim to relevance to themselves as narrative institution – provided the narration is accepted.

4. Journalism and event

Present events made available in mass media according to certain presentational conventions are called news. The aim of this news is to reach maximum coverage, which promises the news-providing institution economic stability. In times of growing competition between manifold medial narrations and, at the same time, high numbers of communicative channels and nonetheless unchanging time-resources on part of the recipients – there are still only 24 hours in a day – the communicative connection is realised by gaining attention. Attention is precarious. It corresponds with everyday experience to say that attention is as quickly lost as aroused. Hardly any valid predictions can be made about the length of attention. The now often mentioned image loop of 11 September 2011 which wanted to perpetuate in a loop the attention-attracting key stimulus, namely the passenger planes crashing into the Twin Towers and the subsequent collapsing towers of the World Trade Centre, showed how even professional media institutions feel their way towards attracting the attention of their customers and at the same time how precarious is that communication established by attention-grabbing, even though talk about attention as resource may plausibly conceal this uncertainty.45 Siegfried J. Schmidt ascertained at the turn of the millennium in light of an ‘attention boom’ that ‘prognoses about what will arouse attention in whom and to what degree of certainty, strength and duration are so very difficult to make, because the arousal of attention depends on the respective context of perception, the biography ← 88 | 89 → of the actors, their system of values and preferences, their moods and expectations, and many more factors.’46

This observation is hardly astounding, but illustrates that the intuitive idea of a stimulus-response-logic according to which certain information and news of a specific kind triggers attention is ambiguous, because it suggests the calculability of communication. This, however, contradicts the assumption mentioned above that successful communication is rather unlikely. Indeed, attention is initially an act of focused perception preceding communication: ‘It precedes every observation and is therefore always the foundation of communication’, as Florian Rötzer has precisely described the phenomenon.47 Establishing this contact professionally is based on experience, which is condensed in the estimation of the news value of information. Accordingly, news value can also be described as the assumption based on the historical observation about the probability that public communication is integrable. The perception, i.e. the willingness to engage, is not only directed towards that which can be differentiated from other communicative offers, because this is always the case, but that which follows the paradox to expected to disappoint the expectations of the audience by, on the one hand, being extremely ‘unusual’, but in so doing, on the other hand, to fail to the logic of news (‘man bites dog’).48 The success of such a fragile communicative situation, which due to the mass media structuring of the situation cannot be stabilised ad hoc by readjusting the form of the message, can only then be secured to some degree if the communicative offers and the expectations aroused are synchronised as reliably as possible through experience. This happens via the concept of news values,49 which claim medial ← 89 | 90 → offers to be relevant and therewith also indirectly make statements about expected attention potentials.

Experts in this matter know that news never arrives by itself (since this would not comply with the way media function; media simply do not transport an extra-medial reality). News is created: ‘Media do not start if something happens; to be able to survive they are tasked with permanently supply – 24 hours a day like CNN, the pioneer of television and the forerunner of web news. They no longer have a date of publication, but want to be permanently in flux.’50

This framework, which is linguistically indebted to the transportation metaphor, reverses however its direction: media do not react to a somehow disposed external world, but to their audience and the concomitant market of attention. This market of attention determines the view of the media, the form of their processing the world. If events and news are scarce and the ‘news situation’ is bad according to the viewpoint of the editors, then there is only one possibility: ‘News has to be created.’51 This scarcely surprising statement also verifies, from the point of view of actors, that news is the event of actively processing content into news value for the public.

In this context, the public is to be thought of as a modus of communicative range and not as an ideal developing sphere for a rational collective will.52 Consequently, the public is to be regarded as structured by the mass media, whereby economic and political dimensions of the media interlock. To use an economic metaphor, the public is a market place of medially formatted information, which is controlled by pluri-medial media constellations whose selling arguments are manifested in news values. This, in turn, does not mean anything other than that there are proven production ← 90 | 91 → logics of journalism, which are followed by successful or success-oriented media offers.53 Their socially integrative and therewith political function was expressed by Ina Bertrand when she ascertained that journalism was ‘the sense-making practice of modernity and therefore “the most important textual system in the world”’.54 The socially integrative function of journalism has been often discussed in Communication Studies. Thereby, however, either primarily semantic or functional operations were dealt with, yet narratives in the sense of structural narration patterns were not.55

The prerogative of interpretation of journalistic text systems addressed here does not refer to individual content, but to the relevant success of a certain media format and its relevance for the respective target group. Accordingly, ‘sense-making’ shall not be understood here in the sense of the content of a programme or an article, but in the sense of the propositional logic of a specific communicative practice in media formats, which are to be described as journalistic.

One of the early news value theories dates back to Walter Lippman who in 1922 developed the connection between reality construction, media and the public with manifold examples from the First World War and thereby introduced the term news value56 as well as observing the operational logic of the press: ‘In the moment it reaches its reader, every newspaper is the end result of a whole range of selection processes that determine which articles are to be published where, with how much space and with which emphasis.’57 ← 91 | 92 →

In this way, Lippman formulated the famous communication formula established roughly 24 years later by Harold D. Lasswell ‘Who Says What In Which Channel to Whom With What Effect’.58 The starting point of his considerations in the chapter ‘External world and internal ideas’ was the thesis that the ‘real’ world overstrains the individual, which is why reductionist procedures are required to enclose this complexity in a communicative and sensuous way.59 This, in turn, was a basic formula for the news media and modern journalism to claim mediacy: reducing complexity in the service of a mass media audience. Reduction does not only mean reducing the abundance of information, but also reducing its interpretation and its explanatory categorisation.

Thinking about news values has long been characterised by the idea that the selection process in the mass media chooses certain contents from an eventful real world, which thereby creates the reality of the audiences. The list presented in 1965 by Johan Galtung and Mari Holmboe60, written in technical metaphors, can also be read along these lines. It pointed out eight parameters for the probability that information (‘signal’) would be perceived. This includes the adaptivity of the event for media formats and their publication frequency, the exceptional nature and extent of the event, the clarity and comprehensibility of the description, the proximity and relevance of the event, its anticipatedness in the sense of integrability with established ideas, its surprise, the awarding of the attribution ‘news’ and lastly the difference from other news. Thereby, it is striking that the parameters were not systematised with a view to whether they are ascribed to the events or whether they are to be ascribed to the reports about the events; meaning, whether they are modes of journalistic presentation or of journalistic perception. The concomitant issue becomes clear in a list ← 92 | 93 → such as Siegfried Weischenberg compiled in 1988 with pragmatic intentions.61 According to this, the following aspects are decisive for the news value of an event:

 ‘Clarity’ – the event is manageable and understandable; references to other events can be easily established.

 ‘Significance’, ‘proximity’ – this means both the cultural as well as the geographic proximity to the recipient, i.e. being affected by the event.

 ‘Surprise’, ‘curiosity’ – this implies the genuine ‘news’ effect of the event, its rarity, its exceptional character, as well as the argument of topicality.

 ‘Negativism’, ‘conflict’ – the bon mot ‘only bad news is good news’ is closely related to the aspects of conflict and tension.

 ‘Personification’, ‘prominence’ – in this way, events can be attributed to individual figures, stories, and names, which makes it easier to memorise the content.

Further news values are combined under the term ‘human-interest elements’,62 which add a ‘human touch’ to the stories. This includes a range of elements such as humour, romance, love, empathy, tragedy, drama, but also animals or science. Yet again, the missing distinction between presentation modes and content categories refers to a basic problem in the theories of news values. In view of this, Weischenberg addressed news in its specific double nature: ‘news in general is a message of journalistic value; news as a journalistic presentation form strives to convey information in the most brief, objective way possible.’63

It is important here to point out the two communicative procedures of news production: the selection, and the presentation, of messages. Both are selection procedures in the sense of the narrative theorems mentioned above. These selection processes are aligned along two parameters: relevance and ← 93 | 94 → interests of the audience.64 With this differentiation Weischenberg inexplicitly referred to the question of whether news values originate from the events themselves or are attributed to them. Even if this question may be relevant for the self-conception of journalism in empirical studies, epistemologically it follows the already manifold addressed correspondence or representation model of communication, which consists of sender, mediator, and receiver, and plays off a pre-medial reality against a medial reality. The possibility that it is the news values which actually generate events – not happenings – is not discussed in this context.65

The audience in this operation is not to be considered as established personnel that remain full of eager expectation until information is provided. Indeed, audience and the field of the public are permanently constituted anew in the pluri-medial information society according to programme sequences and thematic trends. For the duration of the mutual attention span an anonymous community is then established in the light of a specific programme offer, whose sustainability depends on whether the news values of the topic are accepted on a broad basis.

One of the connection points suitable to stabilise the openness of the public, which is established by the mass media, is the ‘nation’ as politico-cultural fiction, as symbolic representation of the idea of community by means of which the anonymity of the collective is suggestively and performatively charged with the semantics of the nation. This is especially achieved in an impressive way in the contexts of war and sports, because in this case not only does ‘conflict’ carry out its job as one of the most powerful news values, but ‘nation’ as collective actor combines audience and stage and establishes a community of self-observers. This was already insinuated in 1952 by the general director of the Nordwestdeutsche Rundfunk (NWDR), Werner Pleister, when on the occasion of the implementation of a daily programme he announced in the spirit of understanding among nations: ← 94 | 95 → ‘Through this magic bowl the distance turns into proximity and the space between us and foreign countries will be nullified. The fate of others will in the future be right in our homes and in this way television can render the furthest our nearest.’66

The social function of media lies in generating collectives through active participation in the media formats. Such participation here means the pre-selection, the reception and the follow-up communication. In 1999 Stefan Münker described the phenomenon in a visually very powerful way as the ‘bonfire of television’, so that his metaphor is still often used in mass media as indication for the own relevance.67 Alongside the seemingly tribal ‘bonfire’, the phrase ‘television nation’ is also often heard, in which media audience, political idea, and constitutional nature converge, as invoked by the NWDR general director Aldolf Grimme in 1953 at the opening of the radio, phono and TV exhibition in Düsseldorf: ‘By the way, antique politics! The participation of the entire population enabled by politics back then returns now in the ages of masses in the form of television: the agora, the assembly of the entire people, direct democracy. Of course, it is still only the representatives of the population who actively participate in the sessions of the ‘Bundestag’. But what they decide and how can from now on be experienced by everyone, and in this way we reclaim a slice of direct democracy. Parliament still remains the expression of the representative system, but no longer exclusively. A new version emerges which includes the population: the people are there, too.’68

The historically informed rhetoric of progress informing this speech follows the conditions of its occasion in that the connection under public law ← 95 | 96 → between media-technology, public and politics is depicted as a democratic promise. Pointing out the character of the media as one which creates its own public is not merely a promotional routine: it describes the unavoidable constituting logic of the mass media society. Modern media therefore perpetuate what in Early Modern times was described as ‘socialisation among attendees’.69 This structural integration of mass media is enhanced at the level of content by news values.

Accordingly, it becomes apparent once more that engaging with the content and structure of the mass media takes one deep into the foundations of society.

If events are only communicatively created then those who are decisively involved in their creation are part of the events. The same degree of relevance can be ascribed to them as is ascribed to the events. This can be most clearly seen in connection with so-called ‘media events’, which, in contrast to ‘normal’ events, make the event recede behind the role of their communicators. This is not the place to depict in detail how, in phenomena such as the moon landing, the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin wall or 09/11 2001, the mass media were centrally occupied with addressing and performing themselves in the creation of content.70 Thereby, they were not merely reporters of an eventful moment, but constructors of the temporal expansion of moments, who were to ensure the sustainability of the news value of the event by means of preliminary reports, comments, interpretations and final reports. The communicative operation thereby consisted of establishing their own relevance as the event medium, as complementary medium of the public in the editing and processing of event constellations, which were mostly experienced as dramatic. In this way, the question of what the core of the event might actually have been, and whether it really ← 96 | 97 → existed, often arises. What is the core event of the moon landing? The moment the shuttle touches the moon, Neil Armstrong’s first or second step or the entire event horizon in the context of the Cold War, which in this case always has to be told? The more mass media frames adhere to the event the more unclear – so it seems – is the event itself. One example is the First World War, which in a frightening way became exemplary for the horror of the industrial killing and the meaningless slaughter of masses. It could, therefore, be expected that the mass media reproduced exactly this. However, the reverse is true. No previous war was so intensively accompanied and influenced by media. Millions of soldiers brought their own cameras to the trenches, wrote poems and letters from the front. The latter were, due to a lack of professionalism in those days, further used in local newspapers, so that writing offices emerged, whose personel, functioning as ‘ghost-writers’ for the soldiers, drew up letters for publication. The core event, the battle, thereby remained strangely unclear. There are manifold descriptions, but these are subject to the boundaries of the participants’ perspective and do not allow an ideally authentic perspective. Overcoming this restriction, and even more influential for the image of the war, was the fictional staging of traditional battle images reaching from artistic accounts to feature and propaganda films. One example of the problem of mediacy was given by the famous Australian war photographer Frank Hurley, who described the fragmentation in the perception of war in the following way: ‘I have tried over and over again to capture events in one single negative, but the results were hopeless. Everything happens on a large scale […] absent-minded people, the atmosphere filled with dense smoke and haze – grenades that just do not explode when they should. All parts of a picture were there, if they could only be comprised and brought together. The battle is in full swing […]. But when I develop my panels they are a disappointment. They are nothing but the picture of some figures storming out of the trenches and a background of haze. There is nothing that could resemble the battle less.’71 ← 97 | 98 →

Hurley it was who also approached this problem by bringing together images from various pictures into a single montage, so as to illustrate his impressions of the war,72 which resembled the tradition of the panoramic overview and circumspection more than the limitations of seeing and showing under frontline conditions.

It is important to recognise that in the so-called media events the mass media exert their power of disposition considerably over the events, and their ability to frame, enclose and dominate events, and that they thereby create the events in their specific form.

This applied to historical media events. But it also applies to historiographic media events, whether they are documentary films, feature films or history magazines. The selection operations explained above become visible through the medial events, because they are inscribed in the products. This results in the question of whether the source material which remains from historical media events bears this selection logic and passes it on to those modern presentations which do not critically engage with their sources. This shall be examined more closely in an example once its basics have been sketched out.

5. Forms of presentation in history magazines

The journalistic requirement to cover a story, to enclose and to frame it, is accordingly always to be listed in the presentation without making it explicit. For this purpose, history magazines use established forms of journalistic presentation, whereby it is neither news nor reports which are paramount, but features, essays and documentaries. Interviews are also presented, but form the exception. The boundaries – and the definitions – between the forms of presentation are very fluid.73 In this way, editorials may also exhibit documentary elements and features may combine them with stylistic devices familiar from reports such as, for ← 98 | 99 → instance, the narrative present tense. In general, all German-language magazines are dominated by a specific combination of documentaries (collection of facts), features (illustration),74 reports (immediacy) as well as essayistic elements (assessment and evaluation),75 which journalism terms ‘magazine story’ or ‘news magazine story’ and which is traditionally very distinctive in the German magazine SPIEGEL.76

This hybridisation of journalistic forms at the level of propositional logic corresponds at the narrative level with the formation of independent narratological patterns, which cannot be grasped in that the traditional features of fictional narrations are merely negated (cf. also Stephan Jaeger’s contribution in this volume).77 These features include the separation of author and narrator, the possibility of internal focalisation (narration from the point of view of one or several characters) or the identity of author and character, the personal perspective, the emphatic or even moral narrative attitude. Because even if academic discourse may require that historiography should make do with less narrativity or narrative variance, it nevertheless becomes apparent in the short overview by Stephan Jaeger on historiographic narration that historiography is always laid out as fictional narration in that it tells about possible (past) worlds.78

History magazines as illustrated texts place huge emphasis on the pictures of the stories presented. Their selection, and especially their licensing, make up the majority of their production costs. Usually, the pictures are not obtained from their own or public archives, but from picture agencies such as Ullstein, Archiv für Kunst und Geschichte (AKG), picture archive Preußischer Kulturbesitz (BPK), Corbis, Bridgemand, Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo (former SV Bilderdienst) and others. The choice ← 99 | 100 → is made by the editors or individual picture editors. The text editors occasionally have a right to suggest pictures, but in most cases, they do not participate in the selection of the images. This again means that it is less the expertise of the historians than the chosen editors which generates the picture galleries; editors who for several years now have been able to conduct research independently in the agencies’ online catalogues. Previously, picture editors had to rely on suggestions made by agency employees, who created picture lists according to general keywords and then presented or sent them as an assortment. However, picture editors still have to depend on the correctness of the proof of origin and the description of content of the respective pictures recorded in the respective data sets. An examination is only possible with a lot of effort; GEO EPOCHE claims to take on exactly this effort. If this is not done, mistakes are passed on in manifold publications. Accordingly, the cover of G/GESCHICHTE 11 (2007) on the topic Verdun shows a black and white cover picture, which depicts a dramatic scene from the war.79

A French soldier is shown in the very moment – so it seems – when he is hit by a bullet. The connotation with the famous picture by Frank Capa taken in 1936, which shows a militiaman killed in the Spanish Civil War80 is apparent and intended.

The cover shows the allegedly dying solder as ‘blow-up’, the cover lines partially form a frame. This picture, which was also used in P.M. HISTORY and on the cover of the supplement of the five-part ARD series ‘Der Erste Weltkrieg’ from 2004, is, however – as is already mandatorily suggested by the camera position – not a contemporary picture of the battle field, but was taken from the French film ‘Verdun, vision d’Histoire’ (Léon Poirier) from 1928.81 The comment on the cover picture in G/GESCHICHTE on the editorial page runs as follows: ‘Cover picture: the life of the soldiers at the front in the muddy and louse-ridden trenches was miserable enough. But ← 100 | 101 → the “liberation” through an assault mostly caused death or severe injuries (French “poilus” during the battle at the Somme).’82

It can certainly be assumed that the picture credits provided by the picture agency were not critically reviewed, because the description in the SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG Photo says: ‘Hit by machine-gun fire, the French lieutenant leading his soldiers collapses during a counter attack on the German positions near Verdun.’83

It can more or less be imagined what the machine-gun fire would have done to the photographer and his equipment. This example shows the high priority which the G/GESCHICHTE editors assigned to the ability to be able visually to present and therewith to demonstrate, the event of the moment of death, which is hardly to be surpassed, even though mistrust towards historical pictures was already debated in the industry back then.84

The visual design of popular historical offerings has not yet been accounted for in qualitative studies. In particular, the great lengths to which editors go in creatively arranging the variety of narrative elements has not been included so far in the analysis of the presentation. Principally because the editorial structure of a magazine is shaped by the division of labour between author, editors, choice of picture and graphics/layout, the requirement of narrative coherence and authority requires the elements of the presentation to be connected in a logical way. The question of whether and how this may be achieved can only be assessed by including the layout and design, i.e. the arrangement of the elements in the magazine context, in the analysis. This shall be illustrated with an example from the magazine G/GESCHICHTE, and the argument further developed.

6. Duplicated event constitution

‘The lights are going out in Europe’ – this popular phrase was used by the magazine G/GESCHICHTE as the title of an article on the outbreak ← 101 | 102 → of the First World War in a special edition from 2008.85 The title refers to the well-known quote of the British Foreign Minister Edward Grey from 3.8.1914.86 A dominant grey-scale graphic on the right-hand side of the double page seems visually to confirm the lights going out.

On the left side of the double page the title line in red-brown the main headline ‘How the world slid into the great war’ is exhibited in addition to the introduction of five and a half lines covering the entire breadth of the page right below. The headline is left-justified and framed by a double line, which runs diagonally across both sides of the magazine and at whose right end the caption of the right side can be found.

On the right next to the headline, title and introduction close to the fold, there is a free-standing picture of two people, which crosses the diagonal double line and which is in turn transparently overlapped by the letters of the introduction. This double portrait with four colours is a contemporary illustration, which shows Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Austrian Kaiser Franz Joseph I in uniform. Both monarchs are depicted from an almost frontal position; Wilhelm is standing facing to the right and Franz Joseph is sitting to his left looking at the viewer. In his right hand he is holding a map and in his left hand the sword lying across his lap. Wilhelm’s hand is characteristically placed on the handle of the sword while his right hand with the marshal’s baton is pointing at the map. This presentation of the monarch was also highly recognisable for contemporaries: the pose of the (battle) leader with military attributes looking resolutely into the distance can be found in many illustrations. The image’s iconic quality makes it equally familiar also today.87 ← 102 | 103 →

Beneath the introduction three columns of further text follow, which are generously introduced by a six-line initial and concluded in the left lower page corner with a two-column black and white picture in horizontal format. It depicts a strongly retouched version of a photograph,88 which according to the caption shows the ‘capture of the assassin Gavrilo Princip’. On the left side of the initial there is a seven-line marginal note: ‘The fatal alliance between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kaiser Franz Joseph dragged Germany into the deadly depths of Balkan politics.’

The right side of the double page is fully taken by a black and white graphic. At the right end of the double line coming from the left is a two-line caption: ‘Fatal for old Europe – the shots from Sarajevo’. The picture, which is cropped at the sides, shows an illustration by Felix Schwormstädt of the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne and his wife from 1914 – like the original – in black and white, or rather greyscale.

The double page features a lot of visual information, which excites attention and suggests diversity by variety. Attention has already been gained through colourful accents in the headline as well as via the colourful double portrait of the emperors, which marks the transition between either side of the double page. This is followed by the comparatively monumental size of the picture of the assassination covering an entire page, as well as the visual illustration of the title by the double line, which connects both pages. Finally, two different fonts are used in eight different font styles and sizes. In this way, layout elements such as headline, title, caption, introduction, marginal note, main text body, heading and subheading feature individual formats respectively. Usually, the differentiation of font types serves to illustrate the hierarchy of information and in this way to indicate relevance within the layout. The variety of creative distinctions and accents used here condenses this differentiation in the small space of one page and so corresponds – intentionally or not – with the content of the story. Accordingly, the introduction runs as follows: ‘The summer ← 103 | 104 → of 1914 was warm and sunny; economies ran at full blast, cultural life was colourful and creative. But then some shots were fired far away and they were the death sentence for millions of people who had until just now enjoyed the summer.’89

The reference to the summer atmosphere initially illustrates place and time in a narrative way. Accordingly, the reader gains access to the events presented in that the ‘stage’ of the happenings is prepared or rather revealed. This is necessary, because the reader presumes a factual presentation and not a fictional one. The zero focalisation establishes the author as historiographic authority who understands how narratively to combine things which are far apart: weather, several economies, cultural life and the events in a yet undefined distance. With the undefined location ‘far away’, however, the narrator seems to question his own authority and to appoint himself a position far away from the distant events, i.e. a position of contemporaries. Actually, this change is, however, only briefly recognisable, because the anticipation of the ‘death sentences for millions of people’ leads back to the authority of the presentation.

The climax of ‘some’ shots leading to ‘millions’ of dead indeed drastically shortens the cause and effect, but by the elliptic intensification again signals the distance of the narrator from the events, and his authority over the events.

Death in war becomes the destiny in the narrative for those who have previously existed in the disparate colour and creativity of different places and spaces, or at least economies. The fateful alignment of contingency is also alluded to in the text body where it says: ‘The direct cause for the multitudinous deaths was the alliance agreement of the European great powers, which constructed a dangerous “domino game”: if one stone fell, the entire system was dragged into the war.’90

Further textual elements can be found, which are composed of metaphors of directed motion, for instance, when Germany is ‘dragged into the deadly depths of the Balkan’ as well as when the entire world ‘slid’ into war.91 ← 104 | 105 →

This fate, narratively organised in the text, which deals with the previous history of the outbreak of the war, i.e. in a way with the final, no longer deducible cause, corresponds with the master narrative of the primal catastrophe, which is not carried out by the actors who are capable of decisions, but happens in the almost mystical form of self-development.92 The difficulties of narratively enclosing such a great event as the First World War can be seen in the inconsistency, so easily overlooked, of no longer differentiating between two causes, namely the shots of Sarajevo and the European system of alliances.

Less fatefully-determined, but much more meticulously planned is, in contrast, the layout of magazines. It is supposed at the same time to structure, order and support content, and guide readers in their perceptions.93 In this case, this means suggesting a variety of topics and aspects and at the same time establishing references and perspectives. The first of these viewpoints, in the form of the double line, emphasises the common direction of reading from left to right, connects and ‘bridges’ the text in leading from the coloured title to the likewise coloured double portrait of the emperors to the dramatic assassination scene. The same viewpoint is established by the marginal note at the left, which together with the comparatively large initial visually forms the starting point, but content-wise refers back to Wilhelm II and Franz Josef I. And also the horizontal picture of Princip’s arrest leads, due to its position, back to the neighbouring page and there to the starting point of a motional diagonal line, which runs from the bottom left across Princip’s shoulder and his stretched arm with the revolver to the ‘centre of the event’. Due to these strong compositional lines, the variety of textual elements and accentuations no longer has irritating effects, so that all in all an order is established around the disparate elements. ← 105 | 106 →

Content and layout in this way communicate in a diverse interplay presentational competence, i.e. the ability to illustrate an event and to make it tell-able, to organise it in a tangible and so comprehensible frame. Along with this goes the ability to have material and content at one’s disposal and to make them available. In this case, it is about the assassination of the heir to the throne and his wife on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, a date which often serves as starting point for the presentation of the First World War.

To set the starting point of a narration and thereby to prefer it over manifold other possibilities is one of the selection processes described above that especially with regard to the First World War should not pass without comment. This is quite simply because the sequence of declarations of war by some European main actors, starting with Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia (28 July 1914) reaching to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Belgium (28 August 1914), already stretched across one month and was not completed even then. Accordingly, when shall the beginning be placed? As a selection of choices there are long-lasting processes,94 which are referred to by the article in its references to the politics of alliances and for which even an almost two-page information box with half a page of info graphic is made available on the following page. On the other hand, drastic event constitutions preferably condensed to one point are chosen for the introduction. The latter includes the assassination in Sarajevo,95 which possibly seems so suitable, because the instantaneousness of a shot (in this case it was two) separates the before and after in a chronological condensation which is hardly to be bettered and as changing point can set in motion narratively highly efficient event dynamics. Stefan Zweig, consciously experienced in the dramaturgical adjustment of history, translated ← 106 | 107 → the shots of Sarajevo into a medial wave of resonance in his memoirs, a wave which was triggered by the assassination – medially transformed by telegram placards – in Baden close to Vienna during the summer idyll: ‘I involuntary stopped reading as the music broke off in the middle of the bar […] I only felt that the music stopped at once. Instinctively, I looked up from my book. Also the masses of people who promenaded as one floating light mass between the trees seemed to change; they also seemed to stop in their up and down. Something must have happened.’96

A similar approach despite all the differences was also chosen by the magazine G/GESCHICHTE in 2008 in the previously-quoted introduction. The rhetoric of change is also taken up in the main body text to explain the point of change in the historical development. After some introductory words about the shots at the royal couple the text asks a rhetorical question:

‘But what else should happen, particularly as the politicians of the European capitals were just about to go on summer holiday? Six weeks later the shots of Sarajevo had caused the most terrible war that history so far had seen. It drew unimaginable sacrifices and by its end the world looked completely different from before 1914 […].’97

The change of paragraph included in the template marked this changing point at which expectations and result fall apart, and also visually addresses reference histories in a twofold way: firstly, the shots in retrospect, i.e. in historiographic adjustment, unfold their narrative relevance as starting point of the war. This indeed corresponds with the experience of contemporaries, since the attribution as ‘the day on which the First World War began’98 is only imaginable as retrospective designation and does not correspond with the dominant contemporary perception. It is therewith, however, the narrative translation of contingency into a tragedy-like ← 107 | 108 → consecutive logic. As retribution for the murder of the archduke nobody in their home country would have spontaneously gone to war:99 ‘But to give truth the honours: no particular agitation or exasperation was visible on the faces, because the heir to the throne had not been very popular,’100 Zweig noted – in hindsight, of course.

Secondly, however, the event is only tangible in reconstructions, whose workings are hardly to be overlooked,101 because it is not photographically documented. The subsequent visualisation, which was already supposed to supply the demand in 1914 for pictorial evidence, was implemented in freely created illustrations and published in newspapers and magazines. Additionally, the picture that covered the title page of the WIENER BILDER one week after the deadly shots and shortly after also that of the HAMBURGER WOCHE became almost iconic. It was to depict the arrest of the assassin Gavrilo Princip and we encounter it again in G/GESCHICHTE.102 But actually, the picture shows the arrest of someone uninvolved as was to be discovered shortly after the picture was taken. Illustrations as well as the photo, which does not document the actual course of events, refer to the dilemma of visual representation in which expectations of news media and audience on the one hand and image-offers on the other differ, the pictures merely pose approximations, not being able to prove their authenticity for themselves.

The drawings and illustrations of the assassination emerged from pure phantasy, as is also suggested by their different arrangements.103 However, ← 108 | 109 → they still have some presentational principals in common, which make aesthetic and also thematic statements:104 In this way, the assassin is mostly depicted standing freely; his hand with the pistol in the moment of shooting is often in the centre of the depiction. The happenings surrounding the centre by means of opposed diagonals enhance the impression of dynamism and chaos, which convey the effect of spontaneity. Frightened faces and wide eyes orchestrate the dramatics of the event. Thereby, the perspective is frequently slightly raised, the view on the event unimpaired. At the same time the drama of the move can claim higher authority – understood here as supposedly un-staged proximity to life – as political genre scenes such as stiff portraits and the permanently repeated encounters of rulers staged according to protocol. The illustrations present the viewer with a graphically clearly framed stage of events, which organises the view as from the middle of the bystanders, even though it was ideally (slight oversight, unrestricted view) arranged. In the case of Schwormstädt’s picture, which entirely follows this style to design events in the light of strongly composed constellations of people, the location of the event is symbolised by the hinted at a minaret in the background. A similar function is played by the reproduction of the typical headpieces and other details. In this way, the newspapers and magazines back then illustrated the possibility of eye witnessing as well as the already frequently-mentioned competence of ‘storytelling’, which lies in making the event vividly experienceable and manageable. Despite the obvious staging, the viewer can cherish the illusion of being made a privileged eye witness and in this way can become part of the event. It can be assumed that the audience was aware, indeed had to be willing, to submit to this attractive illusion in order to consume the media on offer. When in 1914 the assassination of Sarajevo took place, photography had prevailed against illustrations as the more credible ← 109 | 110 → documentary medium. If illustrations were nevertheless still used over and over again then this refers to the crisis of the photo-documentary material, to its absence from the event and in return to the absence of the events in the documentary medium.

In this way the named illustrations and their stylisations of events ensure two things: they make statements about the events and in so doing address their own relevance. This has consequences for the contemporary presentation of history, because this propositional logic is still inscribed in the material as part of its mediating structure.

Since 1914 nothing has changed as regards the material situation; there are still no photographs of the assassination or at least no lost picture documents have been found. This stands in almost diametric contrast to the monumental depiction of the assassination scene in G/GESCHICHTE as a striking claim of evidence and eye witnessing, which, as everyone can clearly recognise today, is merely staged. This also applies to the picture of the supposed arrest of the assassin, which has to prove its authenticity against the clearly visible retouching carried out. The fact that it is not Princip who is depicted here, however, requires contextual knowledge, which can only be established outside the present journalistic communicative situation and which may be widely unknown due to the widespread dissemination of the picture under the heading of Princip’s arrest. A closer look at the picture reveals two things: firstly, the facial features of the person arrested are hardly identifiable, which is due to the motion blur and the poor illumination as well as the circumstance that the person arrested is looking downwards. Secondly, this appears to be completely irrelevant, because apparently, it is not about the assassin as a person, but about the circumstance that at least one moment classified as relevant can be identified in the context of the event and can be staged as photographically documented. Accordingly, it seems comparatively unimportant whether the things depicted and the things claimed indeed correspond. It is rather about the gesture of evidence as mode of authenticity.

The observations presented here feed the suspicion that contemporary and modern media are, at least in connection with the First World War, closely linked at a specific point, namely in the claim of presentational competences of events. This becomes very apparent here because the event which is narratively to be organised was not communicated or recorded ← 110 | 111 → back then as well as it would have been today in seemingly authentic media such as photography or film. This goes hand in hand with an increased communicativeness, already recognisable via the exemplarily presented double page in its amount of layout elements, which express formatting powers where the evidence of the historical is merely a quote of its absence.

It indeed seems appropriate to speak of signs of a communication crisis here, if the presentability of the war turns out to be as precarious as the presentability of a beginning or outbreak. This is, of course, based on the thesis that structural elements of the initial event are carried along unreflectedly both on the level of content as well as on the level of media. Taking a closer look poses the question about the authenticity of historico-cultural products anew in that it is not primarily about adherence to the facts, but about a medially adequate critical review of sources of the basic materials, which are necessary to create multi-media narratives.

7. Conclusion

This text has attempted first to theoretically correlate the narrative and media procedures of journalism and historiography and to practically apply this reference as an approach to popular history presentations in order to place historico-journalistic single products in the context of mass media and therewith in a social context. The preliminary considerations necessary for this originate from different subject connections. Accordingly, the underlying understanding of communication and media here is based on Luhmann, the news value theory is a genuine field of Communication Studies, the considerations on the historical event configurations were developed in connection with the ‘linguistic turn’, i.e. the narratological reflexion of historiography. Relating all this together happens against the backdrop of the initial thesis: that journalism has become a decisive structural element of the mass media society. Therewith, public and accordingly popular discourses can always be made apparent with regard to these structures. This includes especially three of the fields of action mentioned here, i.e.firstly, the narrative constitution of and authority over (historical) events, and therewith – secondly – the relevance of journalism as systemically relevant, which is expressed performatively in this competence, and thirdly, the systematisation of the claim to relevance in ← 111 | 112 → the categories of the news values, which in detail shape the mass media’s offers of medicy as presentation principles. Understanding the model as narrative structure moreover has shown the need as well as the possibility not only to map macro and micro analyses onto each other, but also to refuse to restrict the area of investigation to pictures and texts, but to take into account the multi-mediacy of everyday experiences and accordingly proceed in an inter-medial way.

‘Can an algorithm write a better news story than a human reporter?’105 Steven Levy asked in April 2013 in the technology magazine WIRED. In this way, the author, who is an expert in the discourse field of artificial intelligence, reformulated the well-known Turing test with regard to that practical field in which the history magazines are to be situated – journalism.

The background of Levy’s report is the writing software of the American company ‘Narrative Science’, who under the motto ‘We transform data into stories and insight’,106 is predominantly used in the fields of finance, sport and economical journalism. That this claim may not be regarded as the usual A.I.-euphoria may be verified by the fact that ‘Narrative Science’ boasts, amongst others, the economic magazine FORBES among their customers.

This contribution, however, was less about the dystopia of ‘robonews’, but about operationalising journalism as a communication system for the observation and analysis of popular history presentation. This idea that journalistic techniques of presentation can be standardised in such a way that the complex logic of algorithms can be entrusted with them and that this remains mostly unnoticed, confirms the thesis illustrated above that journalism can be feasible not only as event, but also as structure and this illustrates its social relevance. For a history of public communication, which is the decisive structural principle for the mass media society, this is a fundamental challenge for historians, and offers much space for new perspectives.

1 The aspects of history presentation sketched out here are further illustrated in Fabio Crivellari: Die Medialität des Krieges. Der Erste Weltkrieg in der populären Erinnerungskultur nach 1945 am Beispiel populärer Geschichtsmagazine. Konstanz 2014, URL: (1.8.2014).

2 The area of history journalism has only recently been examined closer. However, only little can be learned with regard to journalistic narratives in particular, cf. Klaus Arnold/Walter Hömberg/Susanne Kinnebrock (eds.): Geschichtsjournalismus. Zwischen Information und Inszenierung. Berlin 2010; cf. the review by Siegfried Quandt in: Fachjournalist 2 (2012), p. 40 ff; Andrea Kolpatzik: Der Spion, der aus dem Internet kam. Geschichtsjournalismus in den neuen Medien. In: Susanne Popp et al. (eds.): Zeitgeschichte – Medien – Historische Bildung. Göttingen 2010, p. 321–338.

3 Ralf Koch: Reisen ins Vergangene. In: Journalist 7 (1999), p. 34–37, p. 34.

4 Ibid.

5 The necessity for news media to reduce complexity is already emphasised by Walter Lippman, who in 1922 discussed the connection between journalism and society and introduced the idea of the news value: Walter Lippmann: Die öffentliche Meinung. Bochum 1990 (11922), p. 9.

6 Klaus-Dieter Altmeppen: Journalismus und Medien als Organisationen. Leistungen, Strukturen und Management. Wiesbaden 2006, p. 156 ff, 253 ff.

7 The fundamental distinction or media according to Niklas Luhmann serve communication systems to differentiate themselves. In this way, the system of science is defined as obliged to ‘truth’, the system of politics creates itself through the term of ‘power’ etc. cf. Niklas Luhmann: Die Wissenschaft der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt/Main 1992, p. 271–361, p. 273.

8 According to Malik/Weischenberg the adequate differentiation would be ‘topicality’, which is primarily and immediately evident, since topicality is the business of journalism, cf. Maja Malik/Siegfried Weischenberg: Journalismus und Wissenschaft. Gemeinsame Sinnhorizonte trotz funktionaler Autonomie? In: Soziale Systeme 11 (2005), issue 1, p. 151–165, p. 153. With regard to the news values illustrated further below, ‘topicality’ appears in the current specialist literature only as one of several possible selection principles. In contrast, Altmeppen‘s observation is more plausible, because it can be operationalised in a general way: ‘Die Leistung des Journalismus besteht darin, Themen, die zielgruppenspezifisch als informativ und relevant gelten, zu selektieren und zu bearbeiten […]’ (‘Journalism’s achievement consists in selecting and processing topics, which are informative and relevant to specific target groups […]’), cf. Altmeppen (note 6), p. 201. The further differentiation between journalism and media made by Altmeppen for this argumentation shall not be further used here. Moreover, it shall be addressed here that the wording ‘are […] relevant’ remains rather unclear with regard to the act of selection and neglects its reality creating moment in favour of a medial representational logic.

9 Niklas Luhmann: Die Realität der Massenmedien. 2nd exp. ed. Opladen 1996, p. 36.

10 According to this understanding, information is only provided if communication is successful, i.e. if an offer is accepted and further processed (not merely repeated). Only in this way an informational difference is created in the communication system: ‘The difference that makes the difference in some later effect’ – as the evolutionary theorist Gregory Bateson puts it, on whom also Luhmann’s ideas are based. Bateson demonstrates his definition in various texts. For instance, in Gregory Bateson: Steps to an ecology of mind. Chicago/London 2000, p. 381. On the presumably first mention of the definition in the year 1964 cf. ibid, p. 271 f.

11 Cf. Luhmann (note 9), p. 29.

12 The idea of successful communication also follows the system-theoretical consideration that successful, i.e. stable communication is far less likely than its failure. One hardly errs if one refers back to every-day experiences instead of theoretical considerations. For a systematic illustration cf. Luhmann (note 9), p. 191 ff, 217 ff, as well as Niklas Luhmann: Was ist Kommunikation? In: Idem: Aufsätze und Reden. Stuttgart 2001, p. 94–110, p. 97 (originally published in: Soziologische Aufklärung 6: Die Soziologie und der Mensch. Opladen 1995, p. 113–124).

13 History magazines have so far been only little examined in research, this project is the first larger context in which they are discussed. Cf. the brief outline by Christian Spieß: Zwischen Wissenschaft und Unterhaltungsanspruch. Aktuelle Geschichtsmagazine im Vergleich. In: Sabine Horn/Michael Sauer (eds.): Geschichte und Öffentlichkeit. Orte – Medien – Institutionen. Göttingen 2009, p. 169–176; in more detail Christian Spieß: Zwischen populär und wissenschaftlich: Geschichtsvermittlung in aktuellen Geschichtsmagazinen. In: Swen Steinberg/Stefan Meißner/Daniel Trepsdorf (eds.): Vergessenes Erinnern. Medien von Erinnerungskultur und kollektivem Gedächtnis. Berlin 2009, p. 133–151. Spieß ascertains there that texts are the decisive medium in the mediacy of history in magazines.

14 ‘Multi-channelling’ in general means the coordinated, parallel use of various working and communication channels for the dissemination of a product, a service or information. Cf. in general Bernd B. Wirtz: Multi-Channel-Marketing. Grundlagen – Instrumente – Prozesse. Wiesbaden 2008, p. 11 ff, p. 238 ff.

15 URL: (1.8.2014).

16 URL: (1.8.2014).

17 On this still very young research area of Communication Studies cf. Juliana Raupp/Stefan Jarolimek/Friederike Schultz (eds.): Handbuch CSR. Kommunikationswissenschaftliche Grundlagen, disziplinäre Zugänge und methodische Herausforderungen. Wiesbaden 2011.

18 From my own knowledge it can certainly be said that this does not only apply to the supporting volunteers in the educational sector. Generally, it can be asked whether mercantile thinking dominates or serves the educational sector.

19 The boundaries are fluent here, on the problems of classification cf. Heinz Pürer/Johannes Raabe: Presse in Deutschland. 3rd ed. Konstanz 2007, p. 421.

20 This is the reason why educational specialist magazines such as PRAXIS GESCHICHTE or GESCHICHTE LERNEN are not object of this examination, even though they sometimes exhibit similarities to history magazines in layout and design.

21 History magazines differ from each other in their periodicity, run and reach as well as in their content and design concept, from which additional features can be deduced, which will be further addressed in what follows. An important characteristic is whether the magazines are designed in a mono or multi-thematic way, i.e. whether they deal exclusively with one topic – apart from possibly differing service sections – or not.

22 Edigna Menhard/Tilo Treede: Die Zeitschrift. Von der Idee bis zur Vermarktung. Konstanz 2004, p. 231.

23 DAMALS and G/GESCHICHTE as independent brands are the exception of the large German-language magazines. In a diachronic comparison, they also exhibit the strongest formal variety when it comes to layout, format, cover design as well as the structure of the content. This is due not least to the fact that they also are the oldest still existing German-language magazines, and by now belong to larger publishing houses, but are not bound to a family brand.

24 Reinhart Koselleck: Historia Magistra Vitae. Über die Auflösung des Topos im Horizont neuzeitlich bewegter Geschichte. In: Idem: Vergangene Zukunft. Zur Semantik geschichtlicher Zeiten. 4th ed. Frankfurt/Main 2000, p. 38–66, p. 48. However, Koselleck does not take a position with his statement, but reports the historical context of the term.

25 Hans-Jürgen Goertz: Unsichere Geschichte. Zur Theorie historischer Referentialität. Stuttgart 2001, p. 8.

26 This implied, on the one side, the conferences on ‘Poetik und Hermeneutik’ and, on the other hand, the study group ‘Theorie der Geschichte’ partially consisting of the same personnel. There is hardly any secondary literature on either constellation. A research project in Konstanz is working on the academic history of ‘Poetic und Hermeneutik’ as a contribution to German contemporary history. Thomas Rathmann: Ereignisse. Konstrukte. Geschichten. In: Idem (ed.): Ereignis. Konzeptionen eines Begriffs in Geschichte, Kunst und Literatur. Köln 2003, p. 1–19, p. 7 ff. On the contemporary discussion cf. Richard Rorty (ed.): The linguistic turn. Essays in philosophical method. Chicago et al. 1967. On the contextualisation in the history of academics cf. Doris Bachmann-Medick: Cultural Turns. Neuorientierungen in den Kulturwissenschaften. 3rd rev. ed. Reinbeck bei Hamburg 2009, p. 33 ff. Jörn Rüsen has developed four ideal types of historical narration, which primarily differ in their argumentative use of history, time and memory cultures and less with regard to their narrative structure. The latter, in turn, was described by Jakob Krameritsch with regard to hyper-textual narrative patterns, whereby it does not continue Rüsen’s typology, but follows a completely different classification. Jörn Rüsen: Historical narration. Foundation. Types. Reason. In: History and Theory 26 (1987), issue 4, supplement 26: The representation of historical events, p. 87–97; Idem: Die vier Typen historischen Erzählens. In: Reinhart Koselleck/Heinrich Lutz/Jörn Rüsen (eds.): Formen der Geschichtsschreibung. München 1982, p. 514–605; Jakob Krameritsch: Die fünf Typen historischen Erzählens – im Zeitalter digitaler Medien. In: Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History, Online-Ausgabe, 6 (2009), issue 3, URL: (1.8.2014), printed in Popp et al. (note 2), p. 261–281.

27 Reinhart Koselleck: Darstellung, Ereignis und Struktur. In: Idem: Vergangene Zukunft, p. 144–157, p. 145.

28 Ibid.

29 Ibid., p. 146.

30 Ibid., p. 144.

31 The following illustrations are based on the overview by Cornelia Epping-Jäger: Zur Rhetorizität von Ereignissen. In: Irmela Schneider/Christina Bartz (eds.): Formationen der Mediennutzung I. Medienereignisse. Bielefeld 2007, p. 25–33, p. 29 ff, whose illustration is explicitly in line with Rathmann (event).

32 Cf. Luhmann (note 9), p. 9.

33 Siegfried J. Schmidt: Aufmerksamkeit. Die Währung der Medien. In: Aleida Assmann/Jan Assmann (eds.): Aufmerksamkeiten. Archäologie der literarischen Kommunikation VII. München 2001, p. 183–196, p. 190.

34 Cf. Koselleck (note 27), p. 149.

35 Karlheinz Stierle: Erfahrung und narrative Form. Bemerkungen zu ihrem Zusammenhang in Fiktion und Historiographie. In: Jürgen Kocka/Thomas Nipperdey (eds.): Theorie und Erzählung in der Geschichte. München 1979, p. 85–118, p. 93.

36 Lorenz Engell: Das Amedium. Grundbegriffe des Fernsehens in Auflösung: Ereignis und Erwartung. In: mon-tage/av 5 (1996), issue 1, p. 129–153, p. 138.

37 Bateson illustrates his definition in various texts. Here in Gregory Bateson: Steps to an ecology of mind. Chicago/London 2000, p. 381. On the presumably first mention of the definition in the year 1964 cf. ibid., p. 271 f. The doubling of ‘difference’ is important here. Accordingly, one can speak of information if it is understood as a message which evokes a difference in the communication system that produces follow-up communication after the excitation by this information, and which puts the system status into the autopoietic dynamics required for its stability. This observation can be understood as the idea of ‘news’ transferred into system-theoretical terms.

38 Cf. Stierle (note 35), p. 92.

39 Hans Robert Jauß: Der Gebrauch der Fiktion in Formen der Anschauung und Darstellung der Geschichte. In: Koselleck et al. (eds.): Formen der Geschichtsschreibung. München 1982, p. 415–451, p. 422. Droysen has further illustrated this amongst others in the context of his own ideas of critical source review. Thereby, he has recognised the constructivist approach of historiography ‘avant la lettre’: Johann Gustav Droysen: Historik. Vorlesungen über Enzyklopädie und Methodologie der Geschichte. München/Berlin 1943, p. 61 ff.

40 Ibid., p. 423.

41 Ibid., p. 424.

42 Gérard Genette: Die Erzählung. 3rd rev. ed. München 2010, p. 103 ff. and 137 ff. (cf. the contribution by Stephan Jaeger in this volume).

43 It is not a counter-argument that a certain distance exits between the practice and ideal-typical claims. Rather, this difference is a necessary prerequisite for both – research and professional criticism.

44 Fundamental, Gérard Genette: Paratexte. Das Buch vom Beiwerk des Buches. Frankfurt/Main 1989, on notes ibid, p. 304 ff. On the productive expansion of the para-text concept to other media formats cf. Georg Stanitzek: Texte, Paratexte in Medien: Einleitung. In: Klaus Kreimeier/Georg Stanitzek (eds.): Paratexte in Literatur, Film, Fernsehen. Berlin 2004, p. 3–19, p. 15 ff.

45 As background information cf. Alois Hahn: Aufmerksamkeit. In: Assmann/Assmann (note 33), p. 25–56.

46 Cf. Schmidt (note 33), p. 187.

47 Florian Rötzer: Aufmerksamkeit als Medium der Öffentlichkeit. In: Rudolf Maresch/Niels Werber (eds.): Kommunikation – Medien – Macht. Frankfurt/Main 1999, p. 35–58, p. 41.

48 Cf. Engell (note 36), p. 139.

49 A brief, but introductory overview of the tradition of news value research is offered by Irmela Schneider: Nachrichtenfaktoren und Nachrichtenwert. In: Idem (ed.): Medienereignisse. Bielefeld 2007, p. 13–24. Cf. also Christiane Eilders: Nachrichtenfaktoren und Rezeption. Eine empirische Analyse zur Auswahl und Verarbeitung politischer Information. Opladen 1997.

50 Cf. Rötzer (note 47), p. 56.

51 According to a not further mentioned ‘editor-in-chief’ of the sports information service (sid). In: Marc Niemeyer/Jürgen Wilke: Produktion von Sport-Nachrichten. Eine Untersuchung des Sport-Informations-Dienstes (sid) sowie ein Vergleich mit dem Angebot der Deutschen Presse-Agentur. In: Jürgen Wilke (ed.): Nachrichtenproduktion im Mediensystem. Köln et al. 1998, p. 9–53, p. 29.

52 As background information on the various theoretical approaches cf. Michael Beetz: Die Rationalität der Öffentlichkeit. Konstanz 2005, p. 13–39, who addresses the history of terms and theories, but excludes the aspect of media economics.

53 Saskia Handro has indicated this for specific productions of television memory culture, but has not consistently expanded the concept to the area of the public. Saskia Handro: „Erinnern Sie sich …“. Zum Verhältnis von Zeitgeschichte und Fernsehen. In: Popp et al. (note 2), p. 201–218, p. 210.

54 Ina Bertrand: Borders and boundaries. History and television in a postmodern world. In: Tony Barta (ed.): Screening the past. Film and the representation of history. Westport 1998, p. 189–204, p. 190. Cf. also Christiane Eilders: Nachrichtenfaktoren und Rezeption. Eine empirische Analyse zur Auswahl und Verarbeitung politischer Information. Opladen 1997, p. 19 ff.

55 Cf. the overview and discussion by Thomas Hanitzsch: Integration oder Koorientierung? Risiken funktionaler Differenzierung und Journalismustheorie. In: Martin Löffelholz (ed.): Theorien des Journalismus. Ein diskursives Handbuch. 2nd ed. Wiesbaden 2004, p. 217–232.

56 Cf. Lippmann (note 5), p. 237.

57 Ibid., p. 241.

58 Harold Dwight Lasswell: The structure and function of communication in society. In: Lyman Bryson (ed.): The communication of ideas. New York 1948, p. 37–51, p. 37.

59 Cf. Lippmann (note 5), p. 9 ff, p. 27.

60 Johan Galtung/Mari Holmboe Ruge: The structure of foreign news. The presentation of the Congo, Cuba and Cyprus Crisis in four Norwegian newspapers. In: Journal of Peace Research 2 (1965), issue 1, p. 64–91; Idem: Structuring and selecting news. In: Stanley Cohen (ed.): The manufacture of news. Social problems, deviance and the mass media. London 1973, p. 62–72.

61 Siegfried Weischenberg: Nachrichtenschreiben. Journalistische Praxis zum Studium und Selbststudium. 2nd rev. ed. Opladen 1990 (11988), p. 18 ff. Cf. also Lemma news in: Günter Bentele/Hans-Bernd Brosius/Otfried Jarren (eds.): Lexikon Kommunikations- und Medienwissenschaft. Wiesbaden 2006, p. 273 ff; and in: Franco P. Rota/Wolfgang Fuchs (eds.): Lexikon Public Relations. München 2007, p. 293 (with reference to Galtung/Ruge).

62 Cf. Weischenberg (note 61), p. 21 f.

63 Ibid., p. 17.

64 Ibid., p. 18.

65 Cf. also Schneider (note 49), p. 14 f, p. 21. Historians who epistemologically reflect their use of sources are aware of the constructivist character of their approach to the historical even (‘questions create sources’) and can emphasise the reciprocity of the research question and the constitution as well as the adjustment of historical events.

66 Monika Elsner/Thomas Müller/Peter M. Spangenberg: Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Dispositivs Fernsehen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland der fünfziger Jahre. In: Knut Hickethier (ed.): Institution, Technik und Programm. Rahmenaspekte der Programmgeschichte des Fernsehens. München 1993, p. 31–66, p. 42.

67 Stefan Münker: Epilog zum Fernsehen. In: Stefan Münker/Alexander Rösler (eds.): Televisionen. Frankfurt/Main 1999, p. 220–236, p. 221. Especially the fact that Münker had therewith intended to diagnose the pre-dual television of the old German Federal Republic as extinct proves how much the own claim of relevance belongs to the basics of mass media.

68 Cf. Elsner/Müller/Spangenberg (note 66), p. 43.

69 Rudolf Schlögl: Kommunikation und Vergesellschaftung unter Anwesenden. Formen des Sozialen und ihre Transformation in der Frühen Neuzeit. In: GG 34 (2008), p. 155–224, p. 162 ff. and p. 171 ff.

70 On the moon landing and the ‘fall of the wall’ as well as on the basic conceptual operations regarding media events cf. the instructive articles by Engell (note 36); Idem: Das Mondprogramm. Wie das Fernsehen das größte Ereignis aller Zeiten erzeugte und wieder auflöste, um zu seiner Geschichte zu finden. In: Friedrich Lenger/Ansgar Nünning (eds.): Medienereignisse der Moderne. Darmstadt 2008, p. 150–171.

71 Bernd Hüppauf: Kriegsfotografie an der Schwelle zum Neuen Sehen. Über einen Aspekt der kollektiven Erinnerung des Ersten Weltkriegs. In: Bedrich Loewenstein (ed.): Geschichte und Psychologie. Annäherungsversuche. Pfaffenweiler 1992, p. 205–232, p. 217.

72 Anton Holzer: “Going Over The Top”. Neue Perspektiven aus dem Schützengraben. In: Gerhard Paul (ed.): Das Jahrhundert der Bilder. Vol. 1: 1900 bis 1949. Göttingen 2009, p. 196–203.

73 Margreth Lünenborg (ed.): Journalismus als kultureller Prozess. Zur Bedeutung des Journalismus in der Mediengesellschaft. Ein Entwurf. Wiesbaden 2005, p. 117 ff.

74 Claudia Mast et al.: Feature. In: Idem (ed.): ABC des Journalismus. Ein Handbuch. Konstanz 2004, p. 288 ff.

75 Michael Haller (ed.): Die Reportage. Konstanz 2008, p. 71 ff.

76 Heinz Pürer (ed.): Publizistik und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Ein Handbuch. Konstanz 2003, p. 191; Claudia Mast et al.: Magazinstory. In: Idem (note 74), p. 318 ff.

77 Fundamental, Stephan Jaeger: Erzähltheorie und Geschichtswissenschaft. In: Vera Nünning/Ansgar Nünning (eds.): Erzähltheorie transgenerisch, intermedial, interdisziplinär. Trier 2002, p. 237–263, p. 248.

78 Ibid.

79 URL: (1.8.2014).

80 Irme Schaber: The Falling Soldier. Eine politische Ikone des 20. Jahrhunderts. In: Gerhard Paul (ed.): Das Jahrhundert der Bilder. Vol. 1: 1900 bis 1949. Göttingen 2009, p. 514–523.

81 Cf. the description and interpretation by Laurant Véray: Reconstituer la guerre de 1914, on the internet platform initiated by the state about the educational history in France, URL: (1.8.2014).

82 G/GESCHICHTE 11 (2007), p. 3.

83 Corbis correctly refers to the film.

84 In this way, a contribution in SPIEGEL ONLINE dealt with the scepticism towards the pictures three years before, URL: (1.8.2014).

85 G/GESCHICHTE SPEZIAL 6 (2008), p. 14–19, URL: (1.8.2014).

86 Quite different versions exist of the correct location of the quote: Accordingly, Jay Winter, an experts in the popular history of the wars, thinks the sentence occurred in a ‘famous speech in the British House of Commons’, whereas, for instance, Martin Schramm presents it as a quote from a conversation between Grey and a journalist: Jay Winter: Lemma ‘Grey’. In: Gerhard Hirschfeld/Gerd Krumeich/Irina Renz (eds.): Enzyklopädie Erster Weltkrieg. Paderborn 2009, p. 534; Martin Schramm: Das Deutschlandbild in der britischen Presse 1912–1919. Berlin 2007, p. 280.

87 On the iconicity of pictures cf. Gerhard Paul: „Mushroom Clouds“. Entstehung, Struktur und Funktion einer Medienikone des 20. Jahrhunderts im interkulturellen Vergleich. In: Idem (ed.): Visual History. Ein Studienbuch. Göttingen 2006, p. 243–264, p. 243 f.

88 The retouching consists in the white and grey accentuation of the heights as well as the outlines of the persons and items. In pre-digital times, this was an indeed common practice in picture printing processes of the press.

89 G/GESCHICHTE SPEZIAL 6 (2008), p. 14.

90 Ibid.

91 Both ibid.

92 There are manifold references for the academic and journalistic use of the terms. A critical discussion of the concept and the term in Aribert Reimann: Der Erste Weltkrieg – Urkatastrophe oder Katalysator? In: APuZ 29/30 (2004), p. 30–38. However, he is more dedicated to the question about the historical sustainability of the idea than the need for the semantics of such a master-narrative. The fact that this narrative can take on the form of a European founding myth may indeed turn out as impressive on the popular media market in the year 2014.

93 Edigna Menhard/Tilo Treede (note 22), p. 149 ff.

94 Johannes Burkhardt et al.: Lange und kurze Wege in den Ersten Weltkrieg. Vier Augsburger Beiträge zur Kriegsursachenforschung. München 1996; Niall Ferguson: Der falsche Krieg. Der Erste Weltkrieg und das 20. Jahrhundert. Stuttgart 1999; Immanuel Geiss: Der lange Weg in die Katastrophe. Die Vorgeschichte des Ersten Weltkriegs 1815–1914. München 1990; Fritz Fischer: Die Außenpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland und der Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkriegs. In: Gregor Schöllgen (ed.): Flucht in den Krieg? Die Außenpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland. Darmstadt 1990, p. 25–67.

95 Volker R. Berghahn: Sarajewo, 28. Juni 1914. Der Untergang des alten Europa. München 1999.

96 Stefan Zweig: Die Welt von Gestern. Erinnerungen eines Europäers. Frankfurt/Main 1993 (Orig. 1944), p. 249.

97 G/GESCHICHTE SPEZIAL 6 (2008), p. 14.

98 Cf. the non-distanced, popular scientific reconstruction by Wladimir Aichelburg: Sarajevo – das Attentat. 28. Juni 1914. Wien 1999, p. 5.

99 Volker Ullrich: Ein Sommer, der keiner mehr war. Als der Erste Weltkrieg begann. In: Idem: Fünf Schüsse auf Bismarck. Historische Reportagen. München 2003, p. 95–107, p. 95 f; Gary W. Shanafelt: Franz Ferdinand. In: Spencer C. Tucker (ed.): The European powers in the First World War. An encyclopedia. New York et al. 1996, p. 268 ff, p. 269.

100 Cf. Zweig (note 96), p. 250.

101 Cf. for instance, Aichelburg (note 98).

102 On this Gerhard Hirschfeld: Sarajevo. Das bilderlose Attentat und die Bildfindungen der Massenpresse. In: Gerhard Paul (ed.): Das Jahrhundert der Bilder. Vol. 1: 1900 bis 1949. Göttingen 2009, p. 148–156.

103 At least Schwormstädt’s employer, the ILLUSTRIERTE ZEITUNG in Leipzig, emphasised that the picture was created according to a sketch from an eye witness. Schwormstädt himself, however, was not in Sarajevo. Cf. Lars U. Scholl: Felix Schwormstädt 1870–1938. Maler – Pressezeichner – Illustrator. Herford 1990, p. 32. This is also confirmed by the fact that the archduke’s uniform is depicted in the wrong way.

104 An overview of all visual presentations of the assassination does not exist. For this comparison, a total of six contemporary, predominantly undocumented images were used, which were found during research in Getty-Images (3), Bildarchiv-Preußischer Kulturbesitz (1), Bridgeman Art Library (2, but only 1 contemporary image), Bildarchiv der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (2).

105 URL: (1.8.2014).

106 URL: (1.8.2014).