Plebeians must stay outside

Study shows high social selection at journalism schools

What happens when "Time"-editor-in-chief Giovanni di Lorenzo meets former defense minister Karl-Theodor von Guttenberg? No, it’s not just hair gel joining hair gel and cashmere sweater joining cashmere sweater, but then it’s also about the understanding of the power elites, who recognize each other quasi by smell. Where these elites in the journalistic field come from was investigated by Klarissa Lueg, a doctoral candidate at the TH Darmstadt, in her dissertation "Habitus, Origin and Positioning: The Logic of the Journalistic Field" . According to this study, social selection is particularly severe at journalism schools, which are regarded as recruiting institutions for journalistic careers "high group of origin". Children of skilled workers, for example, do not appear at all. The author sees this selection as a danger for a compensatory "compensatory, advocacy reporting".

The story basically goes like this: the really good jobs at the top with high incomes and reputations have always been passed down among members of the elites. In order for this to work, small invisible traffic lights are set up on the access ramps for the chairs of the chairman of the supervisory board, the federal interrogation judge, the dean of the university or the chief physician, which are regularly set to red when a plebeian comes along.

Since the democratization of education, these traffic lights have functioned informally. Although anyone can now go to university and possibly even earn a doctorate, the top jobs are awarded on the basis of habitus, i.E. The set of manners and behaviors that one is given at home and that one cannot learn at school or university.

Says, for example, the elite researcher Michael Hartmann, who has proven this for top careers in business, politics, justice and science ("The myth of the meritocracy"). Klarissa Lueg has now followed his example with regard to top careers in journalism. It investigated the social origins of students at three journalism schools and interviewed the school principals. The background is the finding that the graduates of these prestigious schools have a quasi career ticket in their pockets. "So, anyone who has managed to get into a journalism school has basically already made it in the profession", said one of the interviewed school directors.

What is a "journalistic personality"?

At the center of social selection, according to Lueg, is the personality profile in the selection interview. It is the mechanism through which the habitus is brought into play and which serves as a filter to sift out the plebeians. It is about different characteristics of a "journalistic personhood" such as receptiveness and flexibility, linguistic and interlocutionary skills, or a "Confidence-inspiring nature". "All in all, these five characteristics form a journalistic personality, which is favored by a civic socialization and the resulting habitus. These characteristics are less likely to be acquired through school or university socialization", according to the author.

The consequences of this type "face"- or habitus control are a high social "selection" or the other way round, the exclusion of members of non-bourgeois classes from the school or journalism. The journalism school students represent a "predominantly a closed group of origin" 68 percent come from a high "high" background. As a rule, these journalism students come from academic homes with a high proportion of fathers who hold a doctorate or even a postdoctoral degree, often combined with a classic gender role distribution.

While 51 percent of all students have one parent with a university degree, the figure for journalism students is as high as 71 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that journalism schools do not admit students from the low "low" are to be found at journalism schools: "Children of skilled or unskilled workers, with the perspective and experience of this group, do not exist at journalism schools."

So the world of journalism students is more the world of sliding over thick carpets than the world of linoleum floors, as expressed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who is also the theoretical background of Lueg’s study. Because this group of journalist-scholars, with their coarse-burger origins, also had a coarse-burger view of the world, there was a danger that certain topics would not be perceived at all and that readers would be given a "bad taste" by these journalists "unilateral offer" was made: "The report is a mirror image of how the middle class sees the world."

How that looks, loves us for instance Tobias Haberl of the magazine of the "Suddeutsche" know: "In my family, no one is unemployed, no one is in a trade union, most are self-employed, well off, many doctors, a few lawyers." In an article about the social lowlands of the Left Party, the journalist even gave the public a deep insight into the burghers’ souls, as an illustration of Klarissa Lueg’s study: "I still remember how shocked I was the first time I visited a school friend who lived with his parents in a 75-square-meter rented apartment."

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