I will be studying German pressthink in Berlin this summer.
What are the common sense ideas about the role of the press that almost all German journalists take for granted?
In 27 days I fly to Berlin to spend June, July and August as a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy. I have never lived in a European city, so this will be a new experience for me.
I am posting here a description of my project, so that people with suggestions can share them, either by using the comment section, by talking to me on Twitter, or by sending me an email, hopefully with Berlin! in the subject line. Here’s my project:
I want to answer this question: What is German pressthink and how is it changing? In order to show what I mean, I need to explain that term, “pressthink,” which is my invention. It is also the name of my blog. I define pressthink as the common sense of the journalism profession, the ideas that journalists share in common about their work, the meaning and importance of that work, and the way it should be done— or should never be done. You could also say that pressthink is the assumptions journalists make about what “good” journalism is, and how to do good for society through journalism. Sometimes these are less-than conscious.
Up to now my writing has been primarily about American journalism and its pressthink. So, for example, I have analyzed “he said, she said journalism,” and what I call the View from Nowhere because these are practices that reveal how American journalists think. In the summer of 2017 I wrote about how asymmetry in the two-party political system is almost too much for American pressthink, which can’t handle it.
During my stay at the Bosch Academy in the summer of 2018 I want to ask German journalists, editors, publishers, scholars, activists, and politicians: what is German pressthink? What makes it distinct? How is it different from American pressthink? What are the common sense ideas about the role of the press that almost all German journalists understand and take for granted? Where did those ideas come from? What pressures are they under? What is uniquely German in them? A lot of American pressthink has been broken by Trump. It doesn’t work very well any more. Has anything like that happened in Germany? Is German pressthink evolving? Is there consensus among German journalists about what “good” journalism is, and how to do good for society through journalism? Or is that breaking apart?
I will investigate these questions by talking to people and trying to make sense of their answers.
Am 26. Juni berichtet Sandro Schroeder in der Deutschlandfunk-Ausgabe von @mediasres über ein Gespräch mit Jay Rosen unter dem Titel: US-Journalismus in der KriseVon falschen Ansprüchen und fehlender Menschlichkeit
und die Redaktion fasst dieses so zusammen:
Journalistische Objektivität kann und soll es nicht geben, meint US-Journalismusforscher Jay Rosen. Dieser Anspruch führe dazu, dass zu wenig kritisch eingeordnet werde. Journalisten müssten transparenter und wieder mehr aus Sicht der Bürger berichten.
Am 30. Juni schreibt Jay Rosen in der Nachfolge zu dieser Notiz
0/ Four weeks into my summer fellowship in Berlin at @BoschAcademy. Today I can report back about the major differences I have found so far between the German and American press— and the different press situations in Germany and the US... Ready? https://t.co/rX9NcmLG0Z
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) June 30, 2018
... diese in 8 Punkten zusammengefassten Beobachtungen auf und stellt diese zur Diskussion, an der auch wir uns beteiligen sollten:
1/ Biggest difference with the US: The strength, stability, tradition and sheer "bulk" of the public broadcasting system in Germany, funded through a license fee that every household and firm pays. At the heart of the German media system are the two major public broadcasters.
2/ Second biggest difference. No Fox News! Nothing like it in Germany. Closest would be the tabloid Bild, but the parallels are mostly superficial. Remarkable what the absence of a 24-hour resentment machine and confirmation bias inferno will do for a country’s public sphere.
3/ The German press is much more print-centric than the American press. Digital disruption is real, but not as far along. Attachment to local newspapers is still fairly strong. The same trends are in gear, but they are meeting more resistance, which is slowing the pace of change.
4/ Compared to their American counterparts, German journalists are not as engaged with social media. Many do not feel any pressure to dive in. Twitter has nothing like the constituency it does among members of the US press. It is not standard equipment. You can safely ignore it.
5/ Blogging never really took off in Germany. I don’t get the sense that amateurs, outsiders and activists ever developed their own press and complaint forum, capable of bringing critique from the margins to the center. (And no Fox News to forward stuff to the power players.)
6/ Maybe because of 3, 4 and 5 on my list, the critique of objectivity as the View from Nowhere and the claim that "transparency is the new objectivity" are not as commonly heard, although they are heard. Professional detachment still has a huge constituency in the German press.
7/ The distance between press culture and academic culture is lesser in Germany than in the US. More PhDs work for newspapers than I would have thought. Also, some companies run training programs that are the equivalent to a masters degree in journalism in the US.
8/ Not as sure about this one, but... Journalists in Germany operate at a greater distance from the "people formerly known as the audience" than do journalists in the US. Traffic pressures and the ratings game are real for them, but beyond that the audience is not in their face.
My friend @jeffjarvis adds: "Important to note how publishers used political capital (again) to limit the digital innovation allowed by public broadcasters. Also in contrast with BBC, there is strong regional public broadcasting. Also, as in UK but not US, radio is still strong."
Im Verlauf dieses und des folgenden Monats wird die hier unter der Anmerkung  genannte Liste der GesprächspartnerInnen hier in Berlin / Deutschland länger und länger, die hier zitierten Beobachtungen ergänzt und korrigiert werden. Und es wird der Zeitpunkt kommen, ihn nicht mehr nach dem Journalismus in den USA, sondern nach seinen Eindrücken / Analysen / Bewertungen der Situation in Deutschland zu befragen.
Dafür bieten wir für ein Follow-up zumindest diese beiden Plattformen an:
ein persönliches Hntergrundgespräch (s.o. die These #5 ;-)
ein Gespräch mit den Mitgliedern der Berliner Journalistenverbände