Thursday, April 5, 2007

Knut Shoulda Been a Contender

Stefan Simons' profile of Ségolène Royal in today's SPIEGEL ONLINE lives up to the high quality of extended analysis that I have come to expect from this source. There was, however, one sad problem, which was the sort of thing that could only happen in the medium of the World Wide Web. The reader serious enough to scroll down below the introductory material quickly discovered that the "Photo Gallery" prepared for Ségolène found itself situated to the left (where else?) of an "other stories" link (with photograph) to the extensive coverage (in text, photographs, and video) of Knut, the polar bear cub at the Berlin Zoo. Knut has received a lot of attention, not just from Spiegel, where he has become a symbol of national pride, but also on Reuters and the BBC. I am not sure the American press is paying much attention to him, but I have my own circle of friends here in the Bay Area who want to be notified every time Spiegel comes out with a new Knut dispatch.

My point is that Ségolène is no match for Knut. Check it out. Follow the hyperlink at the top of this post, start going through Simons' piece, and see what happens when you get to the Photo Gallery. What happens to your attention? Do you stick with the text? Do you check out the Ségolène photographs, most (if not all) of which have been staged by political consultants; or do you become so fixated on that one image of "Cute Knut" (as the caption calls him) that you cannot resist clicking through for more? Come to think of it, given that "TSS principle" (which can stand for either tout sauf Ségolène or tout sauf Sarkozy) that Simons discussed in an earlier Spiegel article, Ségolène should probably count herself lucky that Knut is not on the ballot!

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