Journalism is not a protected profession in Germany and free of access. Anybody can call him- or herself a journalist. There are some associations like the German Journalists’ Union who are allowed to issue individual press cards to those who proof that they are contracted by media. However, besides the advantage of getting easier access to press conferences, there is no legal status connected to that.
A study has come up with a description of the typical German journalists according to the statistical average: „the typical German journalist is a 41 year old, middle-class man, holding an academic degree, working in press, living in a committed relationship and earning around 2300€ a month. In fact, journalism is still dominated by men. Whereas more younger journalist are women than men, the percentage of male journalist gets higher with age. Leading positions are mostly held by men. Women earn significantly less than men.
This is partly due to “glass ceiling” effects and underrepresentation in leading positions, but women receive also less money for the same work as their male counterparts. The average age of German journalist is on the increase, most of them are between 36-45 years old and only one third is younger than 36. It seems that because of the media crisis fewer people are getting into journalism.
Those who do however, vary greatly in their way of education. Only a minority of German journalists went to an academic school or studied journalism. But the majority holds an academic degree and did an internship or traineeship.
Interview with Rudolf Porsch (Deputy Director of the Axel-Springer-Academy)
Q: What are the advantages of a journalism school like the Axel Springer-Academy?
Porsch: We are very mass market orientated. We are not academic orientated. If you are interested in an academic approach than you have to attend a university. But if you are interested in practical journalism that is mass market, audience orientated, we offer really a cross-media education, cross-media journalism. And a cross media journalism that has already proven its concept. That means, we do not work “l’art pour l’art”, only for school or for training purposes, we really work for the market. And we prove our quality day by day, minute by minute on the market, on the internet and on the market place out there.
There are tons of privately funded journalism schools, among them a few renowned journalism schools like the Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg, the German Journalism School in Munich or the Axel-Springer-Akademie in Berlin.
Most German journalists work in newspapers. One third works in television and radio broadcasting. Another quarter write for magazines, the rest is distributed among online media, news agencies and advertising papers. Over the years, the general workload for journalists increased. Economical pressure and advancing digitalization require a broader set of skills and take up more time for additional tasks. Another strong tendency is that more and more freelancer are employed instead of regular employees.
Rudolf Porsch (Deputy Director of the Axel-Springer-Academy)
Q: What skills does modern journalism require?
Porsch: The answer seems to be very easy. The skills you need are the techniques of video, audio and internet. But to be honest, it’s not that easy. Because it means: First, you need these techniques. Within a couple of weeks you can learn that. That’s easy.
But then you need an understanding for your audience. What makes the difference? Not the difference between videos but the difference between a video shown on a screen, on a station screen, on a computer or a video shown on a mobile device on a small screen.
That’s a big, big difference. Both are videos but it’s a big, big difference first in the techniques and second in the expectations of your audience.
That means to your question: what skills? It means first of all, learn the techniques, second learn about your audience. Get a feeling for what your audience wants to have, what your audience needs to get.
And the third thing is: And then, be a journalist, still be a journalist, because the main job of a journalist is to provide the people out there with the information, with the reliable and modern and current information they need.
That hasn’t changed. That is still the same since hundreds of years. Or in other words as Gertrude Stein once said: A rose is a rose is a rose.
I say: A story is a story is a story. That hasn’t changed since Shakespeare. But the way you tell a story that has changed.
The term Civic journalism characterizes a trend to publish content aside from the professional work in a journalistic institution. Often, it is seen as a way to circumvent political restrictions in the media. In Germany, the field of media watch has become more prominent. Several journalists or public intellectuals have made use of blogs to comment on mainstream media discourse or discuss ethical problems. One of the most popular examples is probably BILD-Blog – a watchblog which reveals false news coverage of major German print and online news publications. But aside from a few watchblogs there hasn’t developed a huge blogosphere in Germany yet.