chapter  5
31 Pages

The West German media

The dilemmas of a free press It is hardly surprising, given the course of German history in the twentieth century, that developments in West Germany's press and broadcasting systems have been carefully, closely - and sometimes acrimoniously - monitored throughout the Federal Republic's history. Analyses of the West German media re­ peatedly invoke both the specific historical experience of the twenties and thirties and more general notions of the role of a free press in a free society. The lesson of Weimar and the Third Reich is taken to be that the power of the media to shape and influence public opinion is immense, and that potentially dis­ astrous abuse of this power is by no means confined to dicta­ torships: the Nazi period was, after all, preceded by some fourteen years of republican democracy in which a nominally free press singularly failed to fulfil its democratic role or to implant democratic ideas into the body politic.