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Germany – (F7) Procedures on news selection and news processing

Score in short:

Rules on how to select and present the news are based on journalists’ professional education and regular debates within the newsrooms and therefore widely practised. Stylebooks and other written documents do exist in some media.

Score in detail:

In German newsrooms, at least one daily editorial meeting is mandatory. In these meetings, all newsroom journalists have a say in discussing which issues will be covered and how stories will be framed and commented. Most of the interviewed leading editors stated that in these meetings, correspondents are called upon to express their opinions on certain stories or other media are observed. Especially WDR claims that there are regular debates about the programme decisions. And FAZ explicitly understands its editorial meetings as a forum for brainstorming and exchange.

Fixed stylebooks do not exit in most of the cases, only WDR features style guides and logbooks for each of its waves. The lack of stylebooks in German newsrooms can be explained in terms of journalists’ education and self-image. Today in Germany, most of the journalists in the main news media have graduated from university and run an editorial traineeship or attended a journalism school. In doing so, they had learned the essential procedures of news selection by the time they started their career. A specific socialization for each medium is not regarded as necessary, as all media agree on the concept of a certain news journalism, which is based on routines and procedures that are obligatory for all news media. The processing of news, as one of the central elements of journalists’ self-image in Germany, is a basic competence – all journalists know how to “make the news” after they have been educated and socialized, therefore these procedures do not need to be written down in stylebooks for the newsroom. The rather strong impact of the formal education of journalists in countries such as Germany, which belong to the type of north/ central European media systems, is also described in the current research (Hallin & Mancini 2004, p. 173).