Intellectual Credentials, Achievements and Influence
Obituaries in both countries celebrated academic credentials and achievements of dead journalist but slightly differently. The most frequent occurrence in this category were books the deceased had written and others confirming how insightful and significant these books were. While US obituaries made do with mentioning Ivy League degrees, German articles referred to journalists’ famous university teachers. Even this one-paragraph obituary does not fail to mention that Andreas Razumovsky “began to write for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Theodor W. Adorno’s recommendation” (Unsigned 2012). German obituaries, furthermore, go in much greater length about academic accomplishments. The obituary of Friedrich Karl Fromme in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) is an extreme but not singular example of this: It mentioned that Fromme had studied sociology and public law with Theodor Eschenburg, whose assistant he was; that he had written a “standard work” of constitutional law as his dissertation; finally, that he must have had “painful experiences” of not being able to continue his Habilitation (postdoctoral qualification), “which remains puzzling, considering his academic talent: books and countless articles in academic journals prove what he could have accomplished in that area” (Nonnenmacher 2007).
The greatest distinction of intellectual achievement was to be highly regarded not only in the public sphere but also in the field of expertise one covered. This applied especially to Fromme:
Fromme has in fact invented news coverage on legal policy and judicial policy as a journalistic discipline, as one constitutional law professor, politically distanced from him, once mentioned admiringly ... One constitutional judge had once conceded that, without Fromme’s representation and interpretation of supreme court decisions, the Federal Constitutional Court would not have gained the influence that it now has in publicperception. (ibid.)
In this specific case, other news outlets counterbalanced this praise, however, by noting that “he practiced the profession in a slightly professorial way, sophisticated, in complex, convoluted sentences and with gigantic article lengths” (Rudolph 2007).