114 - Exclaves of West Berlin (3): the Böttcherberg Troika

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The Berlin neighbourhood of Wannsee is situated on an island cut off from the mainland by a number of lakes and canals. Before the unification of both Germanys, the island was the southwesternmost part of West Berlin. But two salients of Potsdam (then East Germany) protrude onto the island from the south, bringing the heavily guarded East-West border onto the Wannsee island.

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This map, an excerpt from a cadastral map of Berlin from 1953, shows the western protrusion and within that salient, three very small, oblong strips of land that belonged to West Berlin. These are the three Böttcherberg enclaves, sometimes counted together as one because of their small size (0,30 hectares in all), thus accounting for the difference in the number of former West Berliner enclaves in East Germany, some sources counting 10, others 12. Even when added up, the Böttcherberg troika have the smallest surface of them all. Earlier postings explain a bit about the peculiarities of the exclaves Erlengrund and Fichtewiese (#99) and Laßzinswiesen (#102).

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Not much background information is to be found about the Böttcherberg exclaves, other than that all three probably were uninhabited, and that the northern one included part of a graveyard. The author of this intriguing website about the Berlin exclaves visited the site of the Böttcherberg troika, concluding that "there must not have been much room for a no-man’s land between Böttcherberg SW and West Berlin, and even less so between Böttcherberg N and West Berlin. Remaining debris suggested that at least Böttcherberg N was part of the no-man’s land prior to 1989, but it should be really interesting to know if DDR authorities at any time respected the status of any of the Böttcherberg exclaves."

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The only comment I can add to that are that this troika is situated in an historically very interesting neighbourhood. 

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    The Wannsee area is famous as a holiday and sunbathing locale, and infamous as the place where in January 1942, senior Nazis met to plan the Endlösung (the ‘Final Solution’) for exterminating Europe’s Jews.

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    Wannsee is also the place where in November 1811, the German romantic poet Heinrich von Kleist first shot and killed Henriette Vogel and then himself in a murder-suicide pact.

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    Just to the south of both Potsdamer salients, across the Glienicker Brücke, lies the Potsdam district of Babelsberg, pre-World War II Germany’s equivalent to London’s Ealing Studios or
    \nRome’s Cinecittà, and at present again a centre of German filmmaking.

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    The Glienicker Bridge itself was used three times to exchange captured agents between East and West, which is how it earned its nickname as ‘Bridge of Spies’. In 1962, Gary Powers, the U2 pilot shot down over the USSR in 1960, was exchanged for a Russian colonel. In 1985, 23 American agents held in Eastern Europe were exchanged for 4 Soviet agents in the West. And in 1986, Soviet dissident Anatoly Sharansky (currently the Israeli politician Nathan Sharansky) and three others were traded for 5 Soviet agents.

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    On the former East German side of the Glienicker Bridge, lies the small settlement of Steinstücken, the largest of West Berlin’s exclaves.

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3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

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  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
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Maps show how CNN lost America to Fox News

Is this proof of a dramatic shift?

Strange Maps
  • Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
  • Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
  • A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses

Dramatic and misleading

Image: Reddit / SICResearch

The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.

Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.

The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.

Let's zoom in:

  • It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
  • By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
  • Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
  • In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
  • Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
  • By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.

"Frightening map"

Image source: Reddit / SICResearch

This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?

  • "The end is near."
  • "The idiocracy grows."
  • "(It's) like a spreading disease."
  • "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
For others, the maps are less about the rise of Fox News, and more about CNN's self-inflicted downward spiral:
  • "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
  • "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
  • "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
  • "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."

Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:

  • "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
  • "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
  • "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
  • "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."

"Old people learning to Google"

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)

But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:

  • "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
  • "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
  • "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
  • "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."

A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.

The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.

One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.

Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.

It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.

CNN, Fox and MSNBC

Image: Google Trends

CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison

For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):

  • Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
  • MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
  • CNN: 706,000 (-9%)

And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.

The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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