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In search for the German CLAN: news journalists

CLAN – Continuous Learning for Adults with Needs

Grant Agreement 2007-3569/001-001
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use
which may be made of the information contained therein.

In search for the German CLAN: news journalists

The aim was to find a CLAN that has, due to its usual working hours, not much chances to
take part in periodically organized cultural or vocational activities.

The first thought of the German project was on lorry drivers. We imagined they’d have very
irregular working times, are often away from home and thus suffer in an extreme extent
from the conditions described above. So we asked the unions and at a big transport
company do get into contact with employees in this field.

However, we had to discover that this CLAN was not interested in what we proposed. There
were several individual reasons, but two traits that could be found in all interviews with lorry
drivers. Firstly, they don’t want to use media in the sense we proposed. They use digital
media of course to navigate on the roads, and also to send e-mails and thus to keep in
touch with their families, but in majority don’t want to use media for other hobbies or
interests. This leads to the second point. Obviously, it fits to the cliché, but the large
majority of the lorry drivers we asked were only interested in watching films on tv and in
regarding adult sites on their computers. They feared constraints and rejected them
vigorously, and could not easily be convinced that this would not be the case.

Of course it still might have been interesting to work with this CLAN. However, after several
discussions, we decided to choose another CLAN, as the focus of our work would too much
have shifted from what the project intends to what would have been some kind of social

With these experiences in background, we decided to look for a CLAN that is relatively well
educated and might be more easily fascinated by mediated vocational training on new
subjects, that thus might be more open-minded. We chose news journalists as our new

News journalists have to report when stories happen. Besides, they have to produce their
media – that is: newspapers, radio or tv news shows – even on weekends and sometimes at
times when other citizens are at home just to watch or listen to them: in the very morning
(so they have to be produced at night – and the evening before is not available for other
things to do), or in the very evening. News journalists by definition almost never have
regular working hours. In consequence, they suit to what is necessary to conduct our

Being quite sufficiently educated, they also suit to what we, after the experiences with the
lorry drivers, regarded as the second important restriction in searching a CLAN.

This leads to the description of the sociological traits. For general information, we got
information from the following references that refer to research by media scientists and
political scientists: Altmeppen, K.-D. (1999): Redaktionen als Koordinationszentren.
Beobachtungen journalistischen Handelns. Opladen/Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag. –
Böckelmann, F. (1993): Journalismus als Beruf. Bilanz der Kommunikatorforschung im
deutschsprachigen Raum von 1945 bis 1990. Konstanz: UVK. – Donsbach, W. (1982):
Legitimationsprobleme des Journalismus. Gesellschaftliche Rolle der Massenmedien und
berufliche Einstellungen von Journalisten. Freiburg, München: Alber. – Hachmeister, L.
(2007), Nervöse Zone: Politik und Journalismus in der Berliner Republik. München, DVA –
Hachmeister, L., Anschlag, D. (Hrsg.) (2003), Die Fernsehproduzenten. Rolle und
Selbstverständnis. Konstanz, UVK-Verl.-Ges. – Hachmeister, L. (Hg. zus. mit F. Siering)
(2002), Die Herren Journalisten. Die Elite der Deutschen Presse nach 1945. München –
Haller, M.; Belz, C.; Sellheim, A. (1999), Berufsbilder im Journalismus. Von den alten zu
den neuen Medien. Konstanz – Hienzsch, U. (1990): Journalismus als Restgröße.
Redaktionelle Rationalisierung und publizistischer Leistungsverlust. Wiesbaden: DUV. –
Hofert, S. (2006),: Erfolgreich als freier Journalist. UVK Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 2.
überarbeitete Auflage – Fengler, S. / Ruß-Mohl, S. (2005): Der Journalist als „Homo
oeconomicus“. Konstanz: UVK.- Klaus, E. (2005 [1998]): Kommunikationswissenschaftliche
Geschlechterforschung. Zur Bedeutung der Frauen in den Massenmedien und im
Journalismus. 2. Auflage, Wien: Lit [Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag]. – Lünenborg, M.
(1997): Journalistinnen in Europa. Eine international vergleichende Analyse zum Gendering
im sozialen System Journalismus. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. – Meier, K. (2002):
Ressort, Sparte, Team. Wahrnehmungsstrukturen und Redaktionsorganisation im
Zeitungsjournalismus. Konstanz: UVK. – Requate, J. (1995), Journalismus als Beruf.
Entstehung und Entwicklung des Journalistenberufs im 19. Jahrhundert. Deutschland im
internationalen Vergleich. Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht – Rühl, M. (1979[1969]): Die
Zeitungsredaktion als organisiertes soziales System. 2., überarbeitete und erweiterte
Auflage, Freiburg (Schweiz): Universitätsverlag. – Schneider, B.; Schönbach, K.;
Stürzebecher, D. (1993): Westdeutsche Journalisten im Vergleich. Jung, professionell und
mit Spaß an der Arbeit. In: Publizistik. 38. Jg., H. 1, S. 5-30. – Schwenk, J. (2006):
Berufsfeld Journalismus. Aktuelle Befunde zur beruflichen Situation und Karriere von Frauen
und Männern im Journalismus. München: Fischer. – .Weichert, S; Zabel, C. (2007): Die
Alpha-Journalisten. Deutschlands Wortführer im Porträt, Halem, Köln

In addition, we conducted 45’ – 60’ interviews with news journalists (“CLAN members”)
which were very fruitful as the journalists obviously knew how to express themselves, very
fast got the points we wanted to stress and expressed their experiences and attitudes in a
very free and open manner.

Of course, in contrast to lorry drivers, news journalists are well educated. All journalists that
might take part have finished a university education.

On the one side, this is not compulsory as the profession of journalism, in Germany, is a
free one; there is no regulation to limit the access to this profession. However, it’s the
market that has led to this high level of well educated potential CLAN members: Since the
70s, journalism is a kind of ‘trend profession’. Whereas before journalists in general only
had to take part in an apprenticeship (the so-called Volontariat), now there are so many
applicants that the newspapers or radio or tv stations could select. One criterion for
selection, of course, is formal education. Thus simply the offer of many people interested in
working as journalists led to a high qualification. ‘Our’ potential CLAN members have
studied political science, sociology, media sciences, and economics.

The motives, however, are quite disparate. The older news journalists (still) want to
influence society or at least feel it is their duty to inform people as to enable them to work
for a better society, or at least to avoid a development towards injustice, fraud, or social
rupture. So their motives can be described as to be more or less idealistic. This idealism is
not so dominant any more with younger journalists. They feel it is an exciting job, they are
close to influential people and can experience recent developments when they happen, and
can earn (still: quite good) money by at the same time having the possibility to express

The dominance of well-educated people (nowadays, in contrast to the time before the 70s)
and the close relationship to influential people leads, to a certain extent, to a feeling of
elitism. Journalists think of themselves as taking part in the society’s elite group. They are
often given respect to (even by politicians or business people), and are to some extend
conditioned by this fact.

So, after the first research, we have the feeling that this CLAN also might also not be very
simple to handle. However, they considered us to be somewhat peers, belonging to a
university and working in an international project.

The older news journalists are in majority men (about 70 to 30 %), whereas among the
younger ones the women are in majority (with almost reverse numbers: 65 to 45 %).

According to other sociological factors like religious preferences and so on, our CLAN fits
almost perfectly to German society – with one exception that, again, deals with the reasons
this profession can take part in our CLAN: They have significantly fewer children then is the
(even low) average in Germany. They explain the fact that they don’t have many children as
a result of the requirements of their profession.

However, they don’t suffer too much from their working times as this is compensated by the
feeling of being important – besides, other CLANS of people that are apparently important
have similar working hours, such as politicians, businessmen, those working in the theatre,
and so on. In addition, their peer group consists of other journalists. A journalist, asked
whether she suffers from her working times, answered significantly: “No paradise without

So they have limited chances to take part in social, cultural, or religious activities. Only less
then one in ten finds time to go to church regularly. They, with very few exceptions, don’t
work voluntarily on social issues but report on other people’s social activities and thus can
calm their social responsibility feelings; the exception is for example a male television
journalist who is married to a woman from another country and who now is working for a
project to integrate foreigners in German society. The only activity that is somewhat
regularly carried out is the visit of cinemas and theatres as this does not need a regular
commitment but can be done when time allows. Besides, those working in and for the
media (thus: even news journalists) define themselves as taking part in the cultural

This, however, was obviously the main reason why news journalists quite easily agreed in
taking part in our project. We were able to make them feel appreciated, they felt an
international project was somewhat adequate to them. So actually we had the feeling it
was social reasons why they were interested, or simply curiosity, and not so much need.
They feel they already know and enjoy, through their profession, their political and social

News journalists have the chance to take part in training activities that are offered by their
employers, the news papers and the radio and tv stations (with the exception of the
journalists that work for one privately owned radio station that obviously does not offer any
training). However, the training activities offerend by the newspapers and the radio and tv
stations only aim at professional training.

No news journalist we asked had participated in institutionalized vocational training within
the last three years, not even in language classes.

We asked for necessities in the cultural or social field but got answers that are very
disparate. This disparity, however, does obviously not correspond to nor is related to gender,
age, or the motives (described above) on why they wanted to become journalists. Thus it
can be concluded that our CLAN consists of very individualized members. The only tendency
is that the majority obviously prefers training activities in the cultural context to those in the
social one. This, of course, is another hint for their individuality, and also, maybe, for the
working conditions that don’t allow a regular commitment that seems to be necessary in
social themes. – The interests reach from literature to painting, sculpturing, interest in the
world’s cultures, travelling, languages, and so on.

Methodologically, they (of course) do know traditional education but also new and innovative
methods, like emotional, social, or media-based learning. In general, they seem to prefer
‘non scholarly’ didactics. As they work all day long with their computers, a surprisingly high
number doesn’t seem to be very interested in learning with this medium. They are not
ideologically or so against computers, in contrary, and most have already some experiences
in e-learning, but they prefer doing something tangible. This begins with reading and ends
with doing something themselves; maybe that is one reason why painting or sculpturing is
so popular with them.

Seminars and conferences remind them to their work and thus are also not much
appreciated. However, as with media-based learning, they are not strictly opposed either.

When we described the projects aims to them, they also agreed in working with computers.
What convinced them was the ‘anytime, anywhere’ possibilities that go with media-based

They already use the internet regularly for professional as well as for private reasons. All
say they use the internet their whole working time (usually eight hours a day), plus in spare
time. They say using the internet is always learning.

Indeed, when asked, most of them also had experiences with computer games – but the
play quite infrequently and obviously very seldom in comparison with the first CLAN we
contacted, the lorry drivers. Almost all of them work with or take part in blogs, chats,
forums, again as well in work context as at home. All in all, it can be concluded that
effective training experiences do exist.

Finally, in spite of the remark that work with this CLAN might not be easy, too, we’d like to
express that during the interviews, literally all of the persons asked were very friendly,
open-minded, well-educated and interested in our work. Each individual was convincing,
even charming. So all in all, we’re looking forward to working with this CLAN in the context
of this project.