Institutional Parameters of Journalistic Professionalism

Despite the differences between occupational cultures of journalism in Germany and the United States, it should be emphasized that there is probably more that unites German and US journalism than what sets them apart. This includes a common understanding of journalism as a facilitator of public debate, a force of public accountability, a resource for citizens to better exercise civil rights, in short: a conduit for democracy. As the remaining chapters of this book will demonstrate, there are important differences and emphases on these values in the two journalism cultures, however.

Hallin and Mancini (2004) consider Germany and the United States as representatives of two distinct models of media systems: the democratic- corporatist and the liberal model, respectively. Whereas the United States has a longer and continuous history of a free and commercial press, German media are defined both by commercialization and stronger ties to political and social groups (parties, unions, interest groups and religious groups). Although these ties have softened, they still reverberate as a greater political parallelism, that is, German media reflect political ideological divisions and their particular topical agendas and views much more than US media among other things.8 Apart from that, both media systems are highly professionalized in that they exhibit a broad consensus over institutional norms and a high degree of autonomy. Both countries constitutionally protect press freedom, but the German state is more interventionist, especially in the public service media sector.

For practical and topical purposes, the following sections mostly focus on the newspaper industry and political journalism. In state house press corps—the main object of empirical analysis in this book—newspapers are numerically dominant. Newspapers still enjoy great prestige within the two journalistic fields in general,9 furthermore, and the same goes for political journalism.10 Despite this specific focus, I will mostly use the general designation journalism throughout the book. I will contextualize journalism within media markets, states and civil society, and professional organizational structures in the United States and Germany in the following sections. The goal is to specify the different compositions of heterono- mous influences that act on each journalistic field, what Benson (2013) termed field position.

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