Advocating for Minority Inclusion: How German Journalists Conceive and Enact Their Roles When Reporting on Antisemitism
Abstract: Antisemitism is a prototype of racially inspired hatred against minorities and a highly moral issue, particularly in Germany. Against this background, this qualitative study explored role conceptions and enactments among German journalists covering antisemitism. Interviews with 21 journalists indicated that their normally passive role conception became more interventionist when reporting on antisemitism. This more active role was enacted through a high frequency of reporting on antisemitic incidents, intensive research on the motivational backgrounds of antisemitic violence, and high levels of reflection on their word choices and the potential effects of media coverage on public opinion, the Jewish community, and potential imitators of violence. Our findings suggest conditions under which journalists may demonstrate interventionism in favor of minorities, which are as follows: (a) key events in history, (b) the national issue culture; (c) the degree to which issue characteristics make it ethically questionable for journalists to strictly follow a news media logic, (d) the concurrence of discrimination against minority members and attacks on journalists, and (e) journalists’ conviction that the issue at stake indicates a dangerous transformation of a country’s society.