Dhis here is a gloss. Initially, in antiquity and the Middle Ages, the word meant marginal notes on an important text, explanations of words, small commentaries. Glosses were written, for example, in the margins of the Talmud, the Psalms, and the Pauline letters.
In journalism, on the other hand, the text that is explained by the gloss is a process in daily events. The gloss is a short genre, often playful in style, which throws a side light on its subjects and makes little distinction between large and small events. Anything can become the subject of a gloss, state actions such as discarded Coke cans. The main thing is that the gloss has a punchline and gets a hit. In some ways it resembles a joke, a prank, an anecdote.
So much for the word explanation. Now to the process. The editor-in-chief of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, who is called editor-in-chief there, has reportedly forbidden his staff to write any more comments. Whether the order was in writing or informal, we do not know. Whether it was linked to the request to refrain from humor, irony and lighter meaning in other newspaper texts in the future also eludes our need for research. The mere news that glosses are now undesirable in Zurich gives us enough food for thought. “Do you think Zurich, for example / is a lower city / where one always has miracles and consecration / as content?” Gottfried Benn once wrote, and the reputation of the great seriousness of Zurich’s inner life may have led him to these verses.
No more carelessness in Zurich?
So does the editor-in-chief think that Zurich is a lower city and that carelessness should never again start from there, despite state clerk Gottfried Keller and émigré Thomas Mann? Or is the decree of glosses an attempt to make it easier for yourself to find out what is meant in the texts, because every double meaning actually harbors the risk of not being noticed?
Seen in this way, the license to joke and double meaning anchored in the genre of the gloss undoubtedly contributes significantly to the burden on bosses, who already have enough to do with checking opinions and accuracy. But how would the readers of Ludwig Börne, Heinrich Heine, Karl Kraus or Alfred Polgar have thought of the decree of glosses?
Doesn’t the joke of reading a newspaper consist, among other things, in the joke that she is able to muster herself, “joke” now once in the meaning of esprit and wit Roger that? Well, the editor-in-chief may reply, I have no Börne, no Polgar. So did he close the glossary due to a lack of wit? But that way he will never get a Borne, a Polgar, not even a trace of it. Which, with all the miracles and consecrations in Zurich in terms of content, would be a shame.