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In the context of that particular article, Sie hätten sich ... is simply indirect speech. I think Konjunktiv I is standard for indirect speech. But this would be indistinguishable from Indikativ (both are haben). That's why Konjunktiv II (hätten) is used here. If the above sentence was about a single journalist, this would not apply, since Konjunktiv I (...


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First, in speaking, most people use "würden" for subjunctive all the time. "Er sagte, wir würden Bären töten, wenn uns langweilig wäre." If you say "Er sagte, wir töteten Bären, wenn uns langweilig wäre", the "töteten" sounds is the same form as for the past tense, and this may confuse readers (or listeners).



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