City Research Online

Comparing journalism cultures in Britain and Germany: Confrontation, Contextualization, Conformity

Henkel, I., Thurman, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-3909-9565 & Deffner, V. (2019). Comparing journalism cultures in Britain and Germany: Confrontation, Contextualization, Conformity. Journalism Studies, 20(14), pp. 1995-2013. doi: 10.1080/1461670x.2018.1551067


Many British newspapers proclaim strongly partisan political and moral positions, with headlines such as “Get Britain out of the EU.” In contrast, German newspapers, during national events such as the refugee crisis, often take on the role of reflective observers. Previous comparative research has shown a link between journalists’ output and professional attitudes. Using data from the Worlds of Journalism Study, this article analyses the professional attitudes of British and German journalists (N=1475) across three constituents of journalism culture: societal, epistemological, and ethical. Our analysis shows significant differences in all three constituents. We conclude that British journalists conceive of their professional role as more confrontational to those in power than their German colleagues. We also find some evidence that German journalists believe it more important to provide context and analysis – aiming to assist audiences in their civic roles – and that they are more likely to conform to professional codes, although only in general terms. Our findings contradict some earlier comparative studies that claimed a more passive role for British journalists. Our findings may also hold interest for others engaged in international comparative research, showing how the two-country comparison can identify, and account for, what is hidden in multi-country research designs.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journalism Studies on 09 Jan 2019, available online:
Publisher Keywords: British and German; comparative; journalism’s role in society; journalists; professional attitudes; role conception; Worlds of Journalism Study
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of ComparingJournalismCulturesInBritainAndGermany-for-distribution3.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (2MB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login