Understanding the Off-the-Record as a Social Practice: German Press-Politics Relations Seen from France

Nicolas Hubé

Abstract


In this article I aim to understand the structuring effects of the institutional and social context on journalist-politician interactions in Germany. In particular, this article focuses on different informal relations within political information circles and, more specifically, on the “off-the-record” practice. Bringing in some exploratory comparative results from France, I propose a sociological model of analysis of these practices.It requires observing and analyzing the complex interplay between political communication and journalism practices in political institutions. At the same time, these interactions have to be understood through their long-term transformations. The traditional explicative variable used by scholars—the effect of a national democratic culture as more or less respectful of journalists’ independence—has to be deconstructed. I propose here a historical sociology of political communication in Western democracies. My study focuses on the (West) German case, understanding the structure of the interactionsin their continuity (from the Weimar Republic to the postwar Bundesrepublik).This example of German journalism is probably a limited case.


Keywords


France; Germany; Off the record; Press-politics relations; Political communication

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