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Textverständnis und Analyse: Fiktionaler Text/Cartoon "The Imperfectionists" by Tom Rachman


Hinweis: Die Prozentangaben in Klammern zeigen die Gewichtung der einzelnen Aufgaben.

  1. Outline the information about Kathleen Solson and the paper she works for. (30%)
  2. Analyze the cartoon and explain which issue in the text it illustrates. (30%)



Kathleen Solson is a journalist with American citizenship (see introduction) who spent several years in Rome between the age of 20 and 30 (ll.47f.). In 1994 she moved to Washington to work as a reporter (ll.48f.) and ten years later she earned herself the job of an editor of an international newspaper in Rome (l.16).
Because of her position, her life is a constant hurry which is why she does not even have time for lunch after the conference (l.67) and has to say goodbye to the organizers (ll.23f.). When rushing to the cloakroom, Kathleen is addressed by a student who would like to talk to her. Unfortunately, as time is running out, she is not willing to talk to him and ends the conversation prematurely (ll.40-43).
Then, Kathleen meets her ex-boyfriend Dario de Monterecchi which causes a lot of inner confusion because she is not used to her private life interfering with her profession (ll.63f.). As you can find out, she lived together with him (l.47) until they broke up in 1994 when Kathleen set off for Washington (l.49).
Finally, while talking to Dario, she mentions her political orientation, which is disapproving of Berlusconi’s political party (ll.71-73).

Kathleen being the editor of the paper, whose name is not mentioned in the text, she considers it creative (l.6) and as an internationally recognised quality paper (l.11).
But in reality, it is outdated and not prepared to follow current and future trends (l.19). It does not provide a web offer (l.20), the circulation is decreasing (l.20) and its major problems are the financial difficulties (ll.20f.) as well as the loss of readership (ll.21f.).

(289 words)


The cartoon, published by Luojie in 2010, is black and white and illustrates the future of print media.

In the centre you can see a copy of the news magazine “Newsweek” with two arms, two legs and a face with two eyes and a mouth wearing a one dollar price tag around its neck and holding a cup in its left hand. It is sitting on the pavement leaning towards a wall and begging for money. Furthermore, at its feet there is a hat and next to it you can find a bottle of water. The magazine has a sad facial expression reinforced by a three-day beard and a small black cloud over its head.
The cartoon also shows some people with computer screens and tablet PCs instead of their heads walking around the periodical. While one of them is looking at his mobile phone and another one is driving a car, nobody but a little girl, pointing her finger, is looking at the magazine sitting on the floor.

The black cloud and the three-day beard are symbols of the miserable situation of the periodical, namely being outdated. The begging of the magazine for money shows that there is no public demand for it and its low sales quote is not enough to survive without financial aid. Moreover, the price tag refers to the purchase of the magazine by Sidney Harman in 2010 for the symbolic price of one dollar.
The people’s heads represent the trend of rather acquiring current information via the Internet than reading print media. Therefore, they are ignoring the magazine on the pavement. Only the young girl is pointing at it which is due to her youthful naivety: She does not know about the tragic situation but is attracted by an interesting exterior appearance of the periodical.

The cartoonist wants to point out that nowadays print media are becoming less and less important because people prefer reading news on the Internet. The example of a well-known news magazine is used to illustrate this message. Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine whose circulation had been decreasing when the cartoon was published in 2010. From 1 January 2013 on it was only available in digital form and only on 7 March 2014 the print edition was relaunched. Because of this vivid example, the cartoon is, on the one hand, highly effective succeeding in illustrating the decline of traditional media like print magazines. On the other hand, it is shocking because it compares print media with homeless people in the streets, who have to make an effort to survive.

In my opinion, digital forms of print magazines and newspapers are becoming more and more important because they are up to date, easy to access and often free of charge, such as the web offer of SportBild, which is a weekly sports magazine with the highest circulation throughout Europe. The sales quote of its print edition has decreased from about 480,000 in 2010 to less than 400,000 in 2014 and the price has increased from 1,00€ in 2002 to 1,80€ in 2014. Therefore, many people prefer to use the home page of the magazine which also offers the possibility of purchasing a digital copy for computers and tablet PCs.

(540 words)

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