Journalists are still needed

Mass media

Markus Behmer

Dr., is professor of communication science at the Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg. His work focuses on journalism research, communication history, current media developments and international media politics.

Contact: [email protected]

Bernd Blöbaum

To person

is professor of communication science with a focus on media theory and media practice at the Institute for Communication Studies at the University of Münster. Areas of work: journalism research, science and the public.

Contact: [email protected]

Dr. Wolfgang Donsbach

To person

is professor of communication science at the TU Dresden, founding director and acting director of the institute there. Doctorate (1981) and habilitation (1989) took place at the University of Mainz. After Dresden he worked at the universities of Mainz, Dortmund, and FU Berlin.

Contact: [email protected]

Leif Kramp

To person

Dr., is a media and communication scientist and works as a lecturer and research assistant in the journalism course at the Macromedia University for Media and Communication on the campus in Hamburg. His main areas of work are: journalism, media and communication research, global media change, international media cultures, media and cultural policy, digital public sphere, information economy, media heritage management. Website:

Contact: [email protected]

Margreth Lünenborg

To person

Dr., is Professor of Journalism and Director of the International Journalists' College at the Free University of Berlin. Her research focuses on journalism research, gender studies in communication studies, and popular media culture.

Contact: [email protected]

Maja Malik

To person

Dr., is a research assistant at the Institute for Communication Studies at the University of Münster. Her main research interests are journalism and media change, media professions, media journalism and media criticism.

Contact: [email protected]

Klaus Meier

To person

Dr., is a professor in the journalism course at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. His main areas of work: journalism research, editorial research, media convergence, online journalism.

Contact: [email protected]

Juliana Raupp

To person

Dr., is professor for journalism and communication studies with a focus on organizational communication at the Free University of Berlin.

Contact: [email protected]

Siegfried Weischenberg

To person

is professor for journalism and communication science at the University of Hamburg. His main research interests are journalism, political communication, media ethics, media economics, communication technologies and news production.

Contact: [email protected]

They call themselves editors, reporters, critics or journalists and work for newspapers, magazines, news agencies, radio stations or the Internet. To do this, they research sources, evaluate information and turn it into news for the public.

The media inform the public - even in crisis situations. (& copy picture-alliance / AP)

The self-image of journalists in Germany

What we read in newspapers and magazines, hear on the radio, see on television or online is produced by journalists. In day-to-day work, you decide which events will be made public, how they will be presented and which topics will receive less attention in the reporting. Hence, journalists are assigned great power and responsibility within society. However, they do not work arbitrarily or on their own. The media system with its historical, legal, political and ethical foundations marks the framework of their activity. In Germany, this framework is determined, for example, by the freedom of expression and freedom of the press enshrined in the constitution and by the regulations set out in the state press and state media laws and in the state broadcasting treaties, for example on the separation of editorial and advertising or on the right to information from authorities.

In addition, ethical principles are institutionalized, for example in the German Press Council or in the voluntary commitments of the media. The work of journalists in Germany is also shaped by the economic, organizational and technical conditions in the media companies and editorial offices. For example, how much time a journalist has for researching his or her topics depends on the financial and human resources of an editorial office; The organizational structure and process of an editorial office and its technical equipment result in different tasks and areas of work for journalists. In addition, the production of media content is characterized by professional standards, rules and routines that are learned by journalists in their training, are deepened in editorial socialization and are applied across the various media.

These diverse framework conditions and influencing factors, of course, leave room for actions that individual journalists decide for themselves and that - within the respective circumstances - could be carried out one way or another. Who these journalists are, what characteristics and attitudes they have, how they orient themselves professionally and what behavior patterns they develop, is therefore the subject of professional journalistic research.

Of particular interest is the question of what image the journalists themselves have of their professional role. What do you expect from your own professional performance, what are your intentions and goals in your work? Journalists are interviewed by scientists about this so-called role self-image. However, the meaningfulness of such self-descriptions and declarations of intent in research is controversial, because it is unclear what significance the self-image of journalists has in their everyday work. One does not know to what extent they can implement their role self-image in everyday professional practice, i.e. when writing texts or producing programs, or whether it is more about idealized self-images. There are various positions on the importance of the journalistic self-image for reporting, which stand between the following opposing views:

On the one hand, there is the assumption that journalists are already describing their professional reality with their communication intentions. After this position, the role models of the journalists can be used to infer directly about the exercise of their profession. If, for example, the majority of political journalists state that it is important to them in their profession to actively help determine the political agenda, then, according to this view, it is concluded that political reporting actively sets topics and thus has an influence on public opinion or even on decisions takes from political actors.

In contrast to this, there is the position that the professional self-image of individual journalists is largely irrelevant for their professional reality, because the complex work contexts in the editorial offices left too little space for the implementation of their individual goals and intentions. If, for example, journalists formulate that the criticism and control of the powerful is a central goal of their work, this does not, according to the view of this research direction, indicate critical reporting by the media, but is interpreted as overestimating themselves on the part of journalists.

In between there is the opinion that knowledge of journalistic self-images can be informative if one takes into account their limited expressiveness in the interpretation. Then the journalists are asked not only about their intentions, but also about the extent to which they can implement them in their everyday work. Firstly, it can be checked to what extent their role model corresponds to their work reality. Second, the role models can also be read as ideals and norms of journalists, i.e. as the values ​​to which they adhere in cases of doubt. If, for example, the majority of journalists state that impartial, precise and quick information to their audience is an important goal of their work, it can be concluded that the balance, correctness and speed of reporting is more important in case of doubt than detailed research into the background of a Subject.

When, in 2005, a representative sample of full-time journalists in Germany was last surveyed about their characteristics and attitudes, those roles that are geared towards information and communication received the greatest approval.

Information and mediation:

Almost nine out of ten of the journalists surveyed (89%) wanted to inform their audience as neutrally and precisely as possible, eight out of ten (79%) wanted to convey complex facts and three quarters (74%) intended to convey information as quickly as possible, as well as reality to depict it as it is. After all, six out of ten journalists surveyed (60%) wanted to focus on news that would be of interest to the broadest possible audience. The task of reliably and quickly supplying the public with information is central to the professional self-image of journalists in Germany - also in departments and media with an entertaining focus, such as popular magazines and lifestyle departments.

Criticism, control, commitment:

Another dimension of the journalistic role models includes a (socially) critical, political, advocacy journalism. Such a committed self-image is generally shared by significantly fewer journalists than the self-image of the information journalist. In 2005, a good half of journalists (58%) intended to criticize social grievances in their profession; but only one in three (34%) wanted to give ordinary people a chance to express their opinion on issues of public interest. Fewer than three in ten journalists (29%) wanted to stand up for the disadvantaged in the population; just under a quarter (24%) saw themselves as watchdogs for politics, business and society. Less than a seventh of the journalists surveyed (14%) even claimed to influence the political agenda and put topics on the political agenda.

Service and entertainment:

In addition to the "classic" role self-images, which relate to information and communication as well as criticism, control and engagement, there are interpretative, orienting, advice and service-oriented communication intentions. In 2005, the dimension of advice and service journalism - similar to the characteristics of a committed role model - met with only moderate approval of the journalists surveyed: Around four out of ten journalists wanted to point out new trends and convey new ideas, convey positive ideals, offer life support for the audience , so serve as a guide, as well as offer entertainment and relaxation to the audience. Only one in five (19%) wanted to present their own views and opinions to the audience "the majority of the audience should form its own opinion.

Overall, there is a diverse picture of journalistic role models that do not contradict each other, but complement each other. In a time comparison as well as in a comparison of different media and departments, these self-images of journalists in Germany are relatively stable: As in the 1990s, the clear majority feel obliged to the standards of information journalism - also in media that appear to be primarily the Serving entertainment.

The implementation of the individual communication intentions in everyday practice is assessed very differently by the journalists. Overall, according to their own statements, they are more likely to realize self-images that are related to information and service journalism in everyday work than critical and controlling professional intentions. There are many reasons why these goals can rarely be implemented. Above all, criticism and control require the time and personnel possibilities as well as editorial structures for investigative research through which grievances could be uncovered. However, these foundations for the implementation of committed journalism have been significantly reduced in the past decade due to economic crises and massive structural changes in the editorial offices. Although intensely research journalism is democratically desirable, it is unpleasant because it watches the fingers of the powerful (politicians and entrepreneurs) and because it requires a lot of time and financial resources. Last but not least, the political, economic and cultural situation of demanding quality journalism shows how important a society is to its democratic standards. Inexpensive but harmless journalism that is entertaining and does not hurt anyone may be the more convenient route for journalists as for society, but it is not necessary for the development of a democracy.

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The images do not have the quality that you are used to from your transmitter. But Mark Kleber, 44, one of eight radio correspondents for SWR in the ARD capital city office, is not deterred. He has had a new, high-performance cell phone for a few weeks. That has internet access and an integrated camera. And Kleber uses both with a lot of fun.

Kleber is someone who exemplifies the digital change in classic media houses and for an open-minded way of dealing with the change. His articulation reveals the trained radio speaker, but just speaking into a microphone would be too little for Kleber today and probably not enough performance for his employer in the long term. That is why the pictures that the radio journalist shoots with his new mobile phone at a party conference, for example, appear in the Tagesschau blog "even before Kleber has recorded his radio report for the SWR. When it is finished, he switches the audio files to a specific one Computer program free. Not only radio colleagues from other stations can use this, but also, of course, ARD journalists who work for other media. In total, ARD produces four types of media in Berlin, namely sound on radio and television, moving images on television and Internet, text and still image also on the net.
"But nobody here sits in the conference in the morning and says: It goes online, it goes on television," says Ulrich Deppendorf, head of the Berlin ARD studio. Rather, you decide in a continuous exchange which information is to be placed in which format, when and where. "Ten years ago it was the case that it had to be the first thing on the news," recalls Deppendorf. "It's not always like this today." ARD is well on the way "at least in Berlin" to work efficiently across media, ie to serve several media types at the same time and without duplicating work. [...]
It is possible to speculate how the quality of journalistic work relates to the number of channels that an employee must have in view every day. ARD studio boss Deppendorf does not seem to be afraid of media overstimulation. In his office he can look at seven screens at the same time. "Internet" we have to do that! ", He shouts, and his fist rushes on the table. Deppendorf thinks little of the old competitive thinking between the media types:" Together we form a single editorial office. "
[...] One content, many distribution channels: Customers should decide what they want and where they get it from. For media houses like the Berlin ARD studio, this realization means that as a journalist you first produce news. The medium in which these appear is of secondary importance. [...]

Johannes Boie / Katharina Riehl, "Please nice cross", in: Süddeutsche Zeitung from December 15, 2010



Is journalism becoming female?

"Journalism is becoming female." That was the headline of the journal for journalism message in 2007. Slightly anxious, she asked in the subtitle: "If women assert themselves: will the content change?"

Looking at the facts, a clear increase in the proportion of women in the professional field of journalism can actually be ascertained: of around 48,000 people who worked full-time as journalists in Germany in 2005, 37 percent were women. If you consider that at the end of the 1970s around 17 percent of women had found their place in the "men's profession of journalism", this shows a considerable increase. The media system in Germany is analogous to that of the USA, where it was possible to observe the entry and rise of women in and within journalism much earlier and more intensively. While the proportion of women in the profession is rising steadily, especially young, highly qualified female colleagues entering journalism through studies, traineeships and freelance work, the picture on the higher floors continues to change little or not at all.

At the editor-in-chief level there is one woman and four men, 29 percent of the department heads and chief of service positions are held by women. If you take a closer look at the media landscape, undisputed male domains become visible: It is the "old media", above all the daily newspapers and news agencies, in which women are dramatically underrepresented. On the other hand, female journalists are comparatively well represented on radio and television "here in particular on private commercial broadcasters" and in magazines, here in the first place in women's magazines. Two public broadcasters, rbb and WDR, are now managed by a director. With regard to the content-related responsibilities of women and men in journalism, a few clichés have to be brushed aside: In the central departments of News, Politics, Economics and Local, female journalists are represented according to their share in the profession. However, they still seem to be denied ascent to the executive suite. A current online survey of political journalists confirms the findings again. 32 percent of the respondents are women. Their share decreases noticeably with increasing age; Their participation falls even more clearly with a rising hierarchical position.

On average, female journalists are better trained than their male colleagues, but despite this lead in qualifications, they earn significantly less money. The total difference is around 700 euros, a good 500 euros of which is due to gender alone. What's wrong for highly qualified female journalists?

Journalism has undergone a fundamental functional and structural change in what is now referred to as the media society. The closed political and journalistic elite that characterized Bonn's "glass house" has given way to a "pack" in Berlin, according to the photographer Herlinde Koelbl in 2001. A description that is more than offensive for many actors in the profession. The name refers to the loss of privileged access to power that was still associated with political journalism in Bonn times. With this increase in journalistic actors, the chances of access for women have improved significantly. Did women change journalism as a result?

Even the question is wrong, because here causes and effects are mixed up.

The first thing to note is that society has fundamentally changed with regard to the distribution of work and roles between men and women. Journalism is now following these developments with a clear time lag.

Second: Journalism has changed fundamentally under economic and technological requirements. These processes of commercialization and digitization bring about upheavals and openings that have made it easier for women in particular to gain access to the field. Journalistic offers arise at short notice and are demand-oriented. This makes a professional field more dynamic, and hierarchies that have evolved over time lose stability.

Third: journalism has become more diverse. The multiplication of programs has promoted the undisputed primacy of information journalism into yesterday "not always in the self-image of the profession, but in everyday editorial life. People journalism stands alongside advice journalism, international reporting alongside travel reports suspected of being PR, club reporting alongside investigative research. This diversity of journalistic reporting patterns cannot be sorted according to "female" versus "male". Women do not write sensitively per se, men do not research hard based on gender. The new variety of journalistic offers does justice to the diverse reading, viewing and listening habits. The demand for one Everyday reporting that does not get lost in the inner view of the political and economic elite is old "and still mostly unredeemed. Such a requirement is by no means "feminine", but it takes women's reading needs very seriously. With dwindling circulation, media companies are likely to sharpen their focus here in the future. Young readers are a precious commodity.

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Women in news journalism

[...] According to a study by media scientist Susanne Keil, women occupied 15 percent of management positions in public law in 1999, "ten years earlier it was only one percent, i.e. two women. The advance of women is even greater Not so surprising, if you look at the facts: Around half of all volunteers are female, female journalists more often have a degree than journalists, and they do not differ significantly from their male colleagues in their professional professional self-image. Women get the same at ARD Salaries are paid like men, but if you look at the entire media landscape, it is an average of 500 euros less per month.

All of the aspects mentioned have a direct or indirect effect on one thing for women: family planning. The current balance is sobering to frightening: While German women still give birth to an average of 1.4 children, 40 percent of female academics are childless. Journalists bring up the sad bottom with 67 percent. When asked for reasons, answers come like [...]: "You can't have a family." Or [...]: "The question has never arisen for me." [...]
In fact, according to the Equal Opportunities Officer [Sabine] Knor, 96 percent of the mothers who have taken parental leave come back to work today "most of them after a year, initially part-time or by the hour. [...]
It used to look a little different. [The former word editor Georg] Röschert remembers the first editor: "She probably did that for two years and then she got married" then she was gone again. That was always so. Women have disappeared because they got married or had children. "In fact, many had left their jobs with their families. Some came back and worked part-time." But that was seen as a restriction.
One of the first to manage the "balancing act" was [Helga] Kipp-Thomas. Although she was a mother of two, she got back on halfway and was actively supported by her husband. Even late or weekend shifts were no problem. And Eva Hermann, as a mother nowadays more on an "anti-feminist mission", received support from all sides: "I always had such a good network, consisting of my in-laws, a great nanny and, last but not least, the very flexible employer" Tagesschau " . My colleagues, especially Jan Hofer as the chief spokesman, were extremely accommodating and tried very hard. " She is convinced that this makes her a happy exception. "Not everyone has such good prerequisites."
In news journalism in particular, "you mustn't expect that you will be taken into consideration," says Kipp Thomas. Business is tough. There are relatively long, irregular working hours in shift work. The job requires a high degree of flexibility and resistance to stress. All of this is usually difficult to reconcile with children if there is no partner and family behind it.
The figures confirm this assumption: the gender ratio is tilting in the over 30 age group. If by then more than half of German journalists are female, the number of women continues to decrease with increasing age. [...]

Nea Matzen / Christian Radler (eds.), Die Tagesschau. On the history of a news broadcast, Konstanz 2009, p. 121 f.



Interest groups in the media landscape

Germany is considered the land of clubs and associations; there are more than 12,000 in this country, including around 7,000 professional associations. Associations are lobby groups: They represent specific interests “officially”. The largest are the unions; For example, working with employers' associations, they set out wage and salary structures, regulate training issues and represent the rights of their members, as well as coordinate and articulate collective views and claims vis-à-vis the public.

Associations provide expert knowledge, seek to strengthen the reputation of their clientele, for example through award ceremonies, and offer a wide range of services from member brochures, magazines and websites to further training and sometimes legal aid, insurance benefits and support in crisis situations.

In all professional fields there is more than just one interest group "as well as in journalism. The two most important" journalists' unions "are the German Journalists' Association (DJV) and the German Journalists' Union (dju). In addition to these two general professional associations there are still numerous specialized interest groups such as the German Association of Trade Journalists (DFJV), the Associations of German Sports Journalists (VDS) or German Medical Journalists (VDMJ), associations such as Freischreiber, who advocate the interests of freelance journalists, or the Research Network whose main concern is the general promotion of the research culture in Germany, the Reporters Without Borders, who as a human rights organization are committed to journalists' rights worldwide, the federal press conference organized as an association to which around 900 parliamentary correspondents belong, "or the German youth press d as the umbrella organization for school and youth magazines.

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Interest groups in journalism

German Association of Journalists, DJV The largest German journalists' association founded in 1949 with around 39,000 members in regional associations in all 16 federal states.

German Union of Journalists, dju The union, which was founded in 1951 as a subgroup of the printing and paper industry union, has been a member of the united service union ver.di since 2001. It has about 22,000 members. Together with the sister group "Radio, Film and Audiovisual Media", the dju forms the "Media Specialist" group in ver.di.

Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers, BDZV The central organization of newspaper publishers since 1954. A total of 301 daily newspaper publishers and 14 weekly newspapers with a total circulation of around 19 million copies are members of eleven regional associations.

Association of German Magazine Publishers, VDZ Umbrella organization founded in 1949, in whose seven regional associations around 400 publishers are organized, which together publish more than 3000 magazines in the areas of general, specialist and denominational press.

Association of private broadcasting and telemedia e. V., VPRT
http // The interest group, founded in 1990, includes around 160 companies from the areas of private radio and television, media services and comparable online offers.

Rudolf Stöber, "Associations / Associations", in: Siegfried Weischenberg / Hans J. Kleinsteuber / Bernhard Pörksen (eds.), Handbook Journalism and Media, Konstanz 2005, p. 460ff.



In the field of newspapers and magazines, the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) and the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) are counterparts to the journalists' associations on the employer side, and the Association of private Broadcasting and Telemedia e. V. (VPRT). The Federal Association of German Advertising Papers (BVDA) conducts lobbying work for the concerns of free weekly newspapers.

The two press publishers' associations BDZV and VDZ negotiate collective agreements, social benefits and training regulations together with DJV and dju. The four organizations also jointly support the German Press Council, the best-known self-regulatory institution in the German media (see p. 11 f.). Associations are the "salt in the soup" of the pluralistic society. They organize the exchange of interests, prepare for state regulation "and thus also ensure that the basic right to freedom of the press and freedom of expression remains alive.

Editorial offices: then and now

Anyone who thinks journalism is a varied profession is wrong at least in one respect: Journalists love routine and fixed work structures. They love to do the same thing weekly, daily or hourly "depending on the frequency of publication. The tension of the job arises from the variety of topics and speed: another pig is driven through the village again and again, but always on the same path.

Precisely because journalists have to get involved in new topics permanently and very quickly, they do not like it when their editorial structures and familiar work processes get mixed up or changed. Nevertheless, successful editorial offices have to change again and again in order to be able to use the new technical possibilities, the changed market conditions and the changing media usage productively and creatively.

The departments:

The organization of an editorial office is based on the journalistic strategy. For example, the range of topics that an editorial office can work on is professionally anchored in the horizontal structure of the editorial office: the so-called departments. A private radio station will organize its editorial team into the areas of music, entertainment and news. Special interest magazines specialize in very specific subject areas. Media with a universal theme, on the other hand, divide the editorial staff into the classic sections: politics, business, culture, sport and local affairs "and, in addition, often science and education, religion or children, youth and family. Overall, the following applies: these are the sections and thematic responsibilities of journalists Perception structure of journalism: Only topics that are structurally anchored in an editorial office are perceived.

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The newsroom

Example: Welt-Gruppe / Berliner Morgenpost:

In the high-rise on Kochstrasse, the newsroom fills almost an entire floor. Almost 60 people work here on bright red armchairs and at long tables. A dozen TV monitors with current programs hang over them. On one wall, a huge computer display in real-image mode shows all newspaper pages that are currently being worked on, as well as the current status of their own Internet pages. A small TV studio with teleprompter, camera and its own lighting is integrated into the newsroom. It is from there that the news broadcasts on Welt Online and Morgenpost Online come. Work in the newsroom begins at six o'clock in the morning and ends at one o'clock in the morning "seven days a week. Of course, people work in shifts. Workplaces are functional positions" [...]. Around 15 percent of the editorial staff sit in the newsroom. Above all, it is the upper ranks of the hierarchy: editors-in-chief, deputies, journalists, department heads, deputy department heads, responsible editors. In addition, there are production editors from the departments who work on a rotation basis: All text editors and authors take turns doing a certain number of production services per month. That distributes the work that comes up [...]. All other journalists work at their own desks and have plenty of quiet writing rooms in which they can withdraw to concentrate and make confidential phone calls. [...]
Essential [in the newsroom] are picture editing, layout, infographics "at least with head-end stations, if not all of them fit in.
[...] Representatives of all "trades" come together several times a day for ad hoc conferences: The photo situation is viewed, additional material [...] determined, the video editors report on the incoming material and try to obtain the rights to one Sequence, [...].
Of course, all online users are in the newsroom; they do not work in their own room, but are a central part of the editorial team, [...].
The motto "Online First" means [...] that every text that is written for the newspaper is immediately online as soon as the editor and department head have given the status "Article finished" in the editorial system. There is no longer any temporal "protection" for the newspaper. Editorial, report [...], portrait, everything is broadcast immediately. A joint editorial team creates very different titles: a national newspaper (Die Welt) comes from the same newsroom as Germany's largest quality newspaper on Sunday (Welt am Sonntag), a more recent tabloid edition (Welt Kompakt), a rapidly growing news website (Welt Online), a strong regional newspaper (Berliner Morgenpost) and a [...] regional website (Morgenpost Online). These six titles are managed by three editors-in-chief "each of them is responsible for two titles [...].
Nevertheless, every title retains its characteristics. Everything appears online, but very little is exchanged between the individual newspapers. Here it becomes clear that one of the most popular prejudices against the newsroom does not apply. It says that he creates unity where there was previously diversity. This is an unfounded prejudice: Open marketplaces inevitably lead to differentiations because they make product features transparent and relentlessly reveal similarities. [...]
Another advantage is evident in the newsroom: It leads to faster decisions. Anyone looking for the editor-in-chief does not need an appointment [...]. He just walks across the room to him. [...]
The functional workstations facilitate communication. Whoever sits in the official chair of the world's political leader makes all the relevant decisions. An editor from his own department or a colleague from culture [...] simply goes to the familiar place, "whoever sits there is on duty. If a department head conducts an interview for a few hours, the colleague represents him at his." Effective stool. [...]
The newsroom unfolds its true power through the mutual inspiration of its employees. [...] You see a good photo on your colleagues' screen and get to know a photographer who is perfect for the planned health series. You can see the number of clicks on the website and understand that Iran's nuclear program does not bore readers, but fascinates them. In short, you collect information and suggestions. There is nothing more important for the work of a journalist, especially a journalist.

Christoph Keese, in: Susanne Fengler, Sonja Kretzschmar (ed.), Innovations für den Journalismus, Wiesbaden 2003, pp. 20 ff.



Distribution of tasks: