Citation
The portrayal of Germany and the image of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the coverage by the Washington Post from 1988 to 1991

Material Information

Title:
The portrayal of Germany and the image of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the coverage by the Washington Post from 1988 to 1991
Creator:
Heger, Wolfram
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
x, 158 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Since 1945 ( fast )
Politics and government ( fast )
Politics and government -- Germany -- 1945-1990 ( lcsh )
Politics and government -- Germany -- 1990- ( lcsh )
History -- Germany -- Unification, 1990 ( lcsh )
Germany ( fast )
Genre:
History. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
History ( fast )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 151-158).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Political Science.
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Wolfgram Heger.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
32659941 ( OCLC )
ocm32659941
Classification:
LD1190.L64 1994m .H43 ( lcc )

Full Text
THE PORTRAYAL OF GERMANY AND THE
IMAGE OF GERMAN CHANCELLOR HELMUT KOHL IN THE
COVERAGE BY THE WASHINGTON POST FROM 1988 TO 1991
by
Wolfram Heger
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Arts
Political Science
1994


1994 by Wolfram Heger
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Wolfram Heger
has been approved for the
Graduate School
by
Thaddeus Tecza

Date


Heger, Wolfram (M.A, Political Science)
The Portrayal of Germany and the Image of German Chancellor Helmut
Kohl in the Coverage by the Washington Post from 1988 to 1991
Thesis directed by Professor Jana Everett
ABSTRACT
This study investigates the portrayal of Germany and the image of
Helmut Kohl in the Washington Post's coverage from 1988 to 1991, and
reveals that the coverage changed from the time before to the time after
reunification. Using the method of content analysis of Washington Post
index entries, the study found the coverage of Germany mainly aimed
toward of the coverage of the German economy, military questions,
Helmut Kohl, and American-German relations. In the time comparison,
the main effect of reunification has been a shift in the coverage from
German foreign policy coverage before to more German domestic policy
after reunification. The analysis also confirmed the hypothesis that
Chancellor Helmut Kohl is the main carrier of the news about Germany
which makes him the most influential German politician to shape the
image of Germany in the Washington Post.
The examination of the described characteristics of Helmut Kohl in
the Washington Post revealed that the coverage emphasized
characteristics which describe the Chancellor as a person and a politician.
The overall positive evaluation of these characteristics lays a foundation


for an overall positive image of Helmut Kohl in the Washington Post.
The data in this study also demonstrated that 70% of these evaluations
have been made by non German sources, mainly journalists. German
reunification affected the Chancellor's media image in several ways. The
most important finding is that Kohl's handling of reunification
established an international reputation for the German leader, who is now
accepted internationally.
Since the study found that the image of Germany in the American
media is shaped to a high degree by the Chancellor, Kohl's overall positive
image certainly supports the overall favorable portrayal of Germany in the
Washington Post.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I
recommend its publication
Signed
Jana Everett


To my Parents Richard and Sigrid Heger


CONTENTS
Figures.......................................................viii
Acknowledgment.................................................x
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION AND METHOD ....................................1
2. LITERATURE REVIEW...........................................10
2.1 Media and Foreign Policy.............................10
2.2 The Creators of the Images of Foreign Countries and
Politicians.......................................... 13
3. IMAGES AND THE MEDIA: THEORETICAL CONCEPTS..................23
3.1 The Concept of Opinion Leaders.......................24
3.2 The Concept of Agenda Setting........................25
3.3 The Concept of the Image of Foreign Countries........28
3.4 The Concept of the Image of Politicians..............29
3.5 The Concept of Media Formats....................... 31
3.6 Press Photos and Image Creation.......:..............33
4. CHANCELLOR KOHL AND GERMAN REUNIFICATION
DIPLOMACY............................................... 37
5. THE IMAGE OF GERMANY IN THE AMERICAN MEDIA..................53
5.1 The Image of Germany in the American Media -
Secondary Data.......................................... 55
5.2 The Image of Germany in the Coverage by the
Washington Post..........................................58
5.2.1 Reported Topics about Germany............... 60
5.2.1.1 The Reporting about Domestic German
Events...................................63
5.2.1.2 Reporting of German Foreign Policy....68


Vll
5.2.2 The Carrier of News about Germany...............73
5.2.3 The Topic-Carrier Relationship.....................80
6. THE MEDIA IMAGE OF CHANCELLOR HELMUT KOHL.........................87
6.1 The Media Image of Helmut Kohl Secondary Data.........87
6.2 The Media Image of Helmut Kohl in the Washington
Post............................. .......................89
6.2.1 Assessments of the Characteristics of Helmut
Kohl.............................................95
6.2.2 The Commentators of the Kohl Characteristics......103
6.2.3 The commentator /characteristic relationship......Ill
7. CONCLUSION.................................................... .116
7.1 The Image of Germany in the Washington Post.............115
7.2 The Image of Helmut Kohl in the Washington Post.........120
7.3 Discussion..............................................123
APPENDIX: CODING GUIDELINES...................................... 129
BIBLIOGRAPHY,
151


FIGURES
Figures
5.1 Index entries about East, West or East and West Germany..............59
5.2 Number of index entries about Kohl, German domestic policy,
or German foreign policy..........................................61
5.3 Number of topic references about German domestic politics............63
5.4 Number of topic references about German foreign policy...............70
5.5 Carrier of news about Germany in the three time periods..............74
5.6 Number of index entries related to the carrier of news about
Germany...........................................................76
5.7 The carrier/topic relation in percentages.........,..................81
5.8 Topics assembling the image of Germany after reunification...........85
6.1 Number of articles about Kohl by category of importance..............90
6.2 Characteristic groups in percentages, assembling the image of
Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the Washington Post.....................96
6.3 Number of assessments of Kohl in the groupings personality,
values, political abilities, and appearance.......................99
6.4 Number of assessments of Kohl's relation to other countries and
other politicians.................................................102
6.5 Number of assessments of Kohl made by commentators in the
groupings domestic commentators, international
commentators, journalists, and others.............................104


IX
6.6 Number of assessments of Kohl made by domestic German
commentators................................................... 107
6.7 Number of assessments of Kohl made by international
commentators.............................................. .....110
6.8 The commentator/characteristic relationship........................113
7.1 Topics assembling the image of Germany in the Washington
Post during the reunification period.............................117
7.2 The carrier of news about Germany................................ 120
7.3 The commentators of the assessments of Kohl........................122


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
As always, there are many people to thank for their contribution to
this thesis. Since the project was first introduced up until its final
completion I always could count on the support of the Department of
Political Science at the University of Colorado at Denver. Special thanks
here to Jana Everett, Joel Edelstein, and Thaddeus Tecza, my thesis
committee, for the needed theoretical and practical assistance to this work.
There are many people who reviewed all or part of the manuscript.
Many of the reviewers provided new ideas, important suggestions for
revisions and organization. With great patience, all of them helped me to
present this thesis the way it is finally written. Thanks to all of them.
My studies in the United States, which led to the completion of my
Political Science degree, were made possible through the generous funding
of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and its Hilfs- und Sozialfond der
Altstipendiaten. Their generosity is greatly appreciated.
I am again very grateful for the support in all regards given to me by
my parents Richard and Sigrid Heger. Without their constant help,
including during my year long stay at the University of Colorado, much of
what I have accomplished and achieved would never had been possible.


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION AND METHOD
As a German citizen following the media in the United States, I
have found it interesting to see what kind of events in Germany gain
attention in the American media: German domestic policy, Nazi crimes,
diplomatic missions of the Chancellor. It has also come to my attention
that what Americans know about Germany comes mostly from media
reporting. Consequently the role the U.S. media plays in portraying the
image of Germany appears crucial to me. After having worked several
years myself in the area of journalism, I decided to explore, from an
academic perspective, the image of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in
the Washington Post in the context of the general image of Germany in
the American media. For over four decades, the U.S. has featured the
image of Germany in the context of the Cold War. The dramatic changes
in Eastern Europe, the emerging break-down of the former superpower
Soviet Union, a loosening of military tensions and, of course, German
reunification have placed Germany in a completely new political context.
The country is now sovereign and no longer under the supervision of the
World War II allies. Germany has grown in size, population, and
economic power. The reunited Germany, as one of the main powers in
Europe, also has to find its new place in the international political system
and is expected to assume more responsibilities worldwide. All in all, the


united Germany finds itself in a completely new situation, confronted
with differing expectations from the international community. With all
these changes, it is legitimate to ask if the image of Germany is also
different. Have there been changes in Germany's image before, during and
after reunification? This study examines aspects that point to the changes
that have taken place in the coverage of Germany by the American media
over the course of German reunification.
In this study, the following hypotheses were tested through content
analysis. The study supports the hypothesis that the focus of topics in the
coverage of Germany in U.S. newspapers has changed from the time
before reunification to the time after reunification. Secondly, the study
also supports the hypothesis that Chancellor Kohl is the main newsmaker
of Germany in the American media. Third, the analysis reveals that Kohl
is described positively rather than negatively in the coverage by the
Washington Post, which supports the conclusion that he contributed to a
high degree to a positive overall image of Germany in the American
media.
The study used data from a content analysis of the coverage of
Germany and Helmut Kohl in the Washington Post. With systematic
counting and recording, a quantitative description of Germany and an
image of Helmut Kohl were created. This content analysis reduced the
large amount of text available, and revealed the image journalists have
created. Using a quantitative approach, this study is not able to describe in


3
detail which specific events shape the image of Germany and Chancellor
Kohl. In order to reveal an overview about the range of topics presented
in the Washington Post, single issues and events had to be classified into
broader categories. It is therefore not possible to present the image of
Germany and of Kohl in a qualitative and more descriptive way.
However, we attempted to give, when appropriate, a listing of which
issues played a significant role within the topic and characteristic
categories.
In order to reveal the image of Germany in the Washington Post,
the contents of index entries from 1988 to 1991 in the Washington Post
Index were analyzed. For the in depth analysis of the role and portrayal of
Chancellor Kohl, assessments of Kohl were extracted from the content of
the newspaper articles. The articles were selected from index entries about
Germany that mentioned Kohl.
The Washington Post was selected because it is generally considered
a quality newspaper with high journalistic standards. In addition, the
Washington Post, has greater coverage of international affairs than
smaller, local newspapers. Researchers assume that news reported in the
New York Times or the Washington Post "ultimately finds its way, in
diluted form, through other newspapers, magazines, television news, and
word of mouth to the general public."1 Thus, the Washington Post can be
considered an opinion leader with an important agenda-setting role.
However, since the Washington Post is one of the elite newspapers in the 1
1Donald L. Jordan, "Newspaper Effects on Policy Preferences," Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 1993,
p.199


U.S., we have to consider that generalizations of this study's results have
to be made carefully. Local, and smaller newspapers might create different
images of Germany and of Kohl because the emphasis of their coverage
might differ from the coverage by the Washington Post.
The selected design for this study can be labeled a "one-group pre-
test post-test" design. This procedure makes it possible to compare the
changes in the portrayal of Germany and Helmut Kohl in the period
before and after German reunification. The newspaper coverage about
Germany and Helmut Kohl before reunification is the pre-test, and the
media portrayal after reunification the post-test. Changes in the media
coverage are expected mainly because of the effects of German
reunification. However, other causes for the changes, like the
developments in the Soviet Union or Eastern Europe cannot be excluded
in the media coverage.
To make the results before, during and after reunification
comparable, three time periods have been defined. These time periods are
consistent for the examination of the image of Germany and the portrayal
of Kohl. With regard to the formulated research questions, the time
periods are defined as followed:
1. The "pre reunification period": January 1, 1988 to August 31, 1989.
2. The "reunification period": This time period includes the reunification
process from the first indicators of a possible reunification in September 1,
1989 until shortly after the official reunification on October 31, 1990. Even
if the reunification had became official on October 3, 1990, it has been


necessary to extend this time period until the end of the month because
many reports published after the reunification still comment on the
official reunification.
3. The "post-reunification period": November 1, 1990 until December 31,
1991.
In order to find out more about the image of Germany in American
newspapers, the unit of analysis has been the available newspaper index
entries. All index summaries listed under the keywords "West Germany,"
"East Germany," "German reunification," "Helmut Kohl," and "Hans-
Dietrich Genscher" in the defined time period have been selected and
coded. Using these keywords all index entries dealing with Germany were
identified. The coding distinguished 27 different topics which were
grouped into four specific categories: Helmut Kohl, domestic German
politics, German foreign policy, and other. In addition, the coding recorded
the carrier of the news about Germany in the index entry. Individuals or
groups, whose actions or assessments are mentioned in the U.S. press are
considered to be "carriers of the news" about Germany or in other words
newsmakers. This could be the Chancellor or the Foreign Minister
commenting on an event, the action of an individual or an
announcement by the chairman of an organization. Kohl, Genscher,
ministers, government officials, politicians of the Christian Democratic
Union (CDU), politicians of the Social Democrats (SPD), and other
opposition politicians were classified into the group of national news


contributors. U.S.- politicians, other foreign politicians and the 2+4 round
were recorded individually and as a group of international contributors to
Germany's media image. Finally, the content analysis further
distinguishes journalists and others as carriers of the news about
Germany. According to the coding guidelines, the evaluation of the index
entry was always conducted from the standpoint of the American reader.
The question for the coder, therefore, can be stated as: Reading this article
about Germany or Helmut Kohl, would an American consider the
described as positive, negative or neutral toward Germany and/or the
German-American relations? The positive, negative or neutral evaluation
depended, therefore, on an existing general consensus in society about
what is good or bad about Germany, and positive or negative for the
United States. Next to these main aspects of the analysis the coding also
registered the following formal aspects of the index entry: month, date,
and year of the entry, photo when mentioned, and a classification of the
item as index entry about East, West or East and West Germany.
The subjects of the content analysis about Helmut Kohl were
assessments, defined as "statements in which the politician's positive or
negative characteristics were discussed."2 Therefore, the unit of analysis
was a sentence including information about Kohl. Unlike the content
analysis of the picture of Germany, the sentences about Kohl were drawn
from the full content of the article and not only out of the index entries. In
2Hans Mathias Kepplinger, Wolfgang Donsbach, Hans-Bemd Brosius, and Joachim F. Staab,
"Medientenor und Bevolicerungsmeinung eine empirische Studie zum Image Helmut Kohls" [Media Tone
and Public Opinion: A Longitudinal Study of Media Coverage and Public Opinion on Chancellor Helmut
Kohl], Kolner Zeitschrift fur Soziologie and Sozialpsychologie, 2/1986, p.250


7
order to examine the image of Helmut Kohl in selected Washington Post
articles, the content analysis conducted by Hans Mathias Kepplinger,
Wolfgang Donsbach, Hans-Bernd Brosius and Joachim F. Staab on the
image of Helmut Kohl in German newspapers and magazines,3 has been
modified to match the needs in this study. The coding first listed several
formal features of the examined article. The article was classified according
to its position in the Washington Post, according to its writing style, and
according to its author. It was also recorded if the article was accompanied
by a photo because articles with photos indicate a higher priority given by
the editors and articles with photos also receiving higher attention from
the reader. As another formal aspect, the total number of sentences about
Kohl and his government, with or without describing a Kohl
characteristic, were counted in order to calculate the ratio between
assessments describing Kohl characteristics and the total number of
sentences on Kohl. In the next step, the sentences, including assessments
about Kohl, were examined in detail. Here the coding distinguished a total
of 31 characteristics which were grouped into eight dimensions:
personality, values, appearance, political abilities, relationship to other
countries, relationship to other politicians, handling of reunification, and
others. Each assessment of a characteristic was additionally coded by who
made the statement. Seventeen commentators of Kohl have been
distinguished: Kohl, Genscher, Ministers, government officials, CDU and
SPD politicians, East German politicians, representatives from
3Ibid., p.250


organizations, the people (group of domestic critics), Gorbachev, Bush,
American politicians, West European politicians, other foreign politicians
(group of international critics), journalists, and others. It must be noted
that during the coding process it was only possible to register the cited
commentators of the Kohl characteristics. Other influential factors, such as
information coming from German journalist colleagues, which are not
identified in the article could not have been taken into consideration.
In addition, the coding recorded if the assessment of Kohl described
him explicitly with a negative or positive implication, or implicitly, in a
manner which might be viewed differently by different segments of
society or from the viewpoint of different countries. For more detailed
explanations of the coding procedure, example index entries, and example
Washington Post articles, see "Appendix: Coding Guidelines."
In order to address the posed research questions and to place the
described content analysis into the scientific and historical context, this
study is divided into four major parts. Following this introduction, in the
second chapter, existing scholarly literature is examined. The focus is on
the general importance of foreign news in the American media, the
relationship between the media and foreign policy, and those who
influence the coverage about a foreign country. Since the existing scholarly
literature pays little attention the image creating role of the media for
foreign countries and foreign politicians, the third chapter provides a
theoretical framework with which a role of the media in creating images


can be explained. In chapter four, the study summarizes Kohl's role
during the reunification of Germany. Using the method of content
analysis of index entries from 1988 to 1991, the fifth chapter of the study
examines the picture of Germany presented in coverage by the
Washington Post. In addition, the same index entries are analyzed with
regard to the carrier of news about Germany. Since German foreign policy
is conducted by the Chancellor, the sixth chapter of the study examines
which characteristics of Kohl are central to media coverage. In the final
chapter, the findings of this study and their implications are summarized
and discussed.


CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
The goal of this part of the study is to list and summarize the
existing literature about the American media and its effects, with special
attention to the effects of foreign policy coverage. The literature review
begins by describing the general relationship between the American mass
media and foreign policy. Does the media coverage actually influence
foreign policy decisions, or is the coverage only a reflection of the policy?
In the second part, the review focuses on those who have an impact on
foreign policy coverage through newspapers, television or radio stations:
the American president, government officials, domestic journalists, news
agencies, and American foreign correspondents. Each of these participants
contributes different aspects about the foreign country and their politicians
to the coverage and therefore contributes to an image.
2.1 Media and Foreign Policy
In the literature most analyses of the public opinion foreign policy
relationship are organized around efforts to trace influence. Analyzing the
relationship between the press and foreign policy in the U.S., we can
identify three basic points of view. One school of thought is that the press
is an active player in the foreign policy process. Bernard C. Cohen gives


11
the press a very powerful role in shaping foreign policy. In his book Press
and Foreign Policy, Cohen explores "the consequences, for the foreign
policy-making environment, of the way that the press defines and
performs its job and of the way that its output is assimilated by the
participants in the process."1 Cohen concludes that reporters see
themselves as having two roles. The first role is to record events, to
inform, interpret and explain foreign policy to their audience. The second
role is that reporters, as foreign policy participants, criticize and question
the government as representatives of the population. Consequently,
Cohen judges the press as "a political actor of tremendous consequences."1 2
According to this school, the press is such a powerful institution in the
policy-making environment network that any pattern of press coverage
would influence policy makers. The press influences politicians and
politicians shape the foreign policy. Consequently, the press influences the
process itself.
Another school of thought is that the press has no foreign policy
power at all and is even manipulated by the government. "Officials stage
events, leak selective information, . overwhelm the media with
barrages and press releases, and yes, lie occasionally to the point that the
press becomes putty in the hands of the president and his legion of media
managers."3 This approach notes that journalists depend on official
sources in their foreign policy coverage. Everette E. Dennis argues in the
1Bemard C. Cohen, The Press and Foreign Policy (Princeton: University Press, 1963), p.4
2Ibid., p.268
3Nicholas O. Berry Foreign Policy And The Press An Analysis of The New York Times' Coverage of US
Foreign Policy (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), p.ix


12
article "The Media and Foreign Policy: a New Relationship" that coverage
of foreign affairs is rarely initiated by the press: "For the most part,
coverage of foreign affairs has been driven by national debate,"4 which is
conducted mainly by pronouncements from the president or Congress.
A third point of view can be found in the middle of these two
extremes. According to this school, the press is an accurate reflector of
foreign policy. The press is neither powerful enough to force foreign
policy, nor is the press managed by the government. According to
Nicholas Berry, "the press is a moon and not a sun; it only reflects light."5
Berry explains his view that the press is unable to interpret or evaluate
foreign policy at the time when the policy is formulated and executed. At
these beginning stages, the press, in order to get the story, depends on
definitions by officials about national interest, designation of goals and the
selection of strategies.6 Nevertheless, Berry further argues that the major
print media take a more critical view on the front page of the paper at the
stage when a President's foreign policy outcome is known and has become
a failure. At this time, the government's attempts at damage control
opposes the press's role of informing the public. "Failure is the sunlight
that illuminates foreign policy performance and unleashes a critical
press."7
4Everette E. Dennis "The Media and Foreign Policy: a New Relationship," Moscow News, August 13,
1993, p.7
5 Nicholas O. Berry Foreign Policy And The Press An Analysis of The New York Times' Coverage of US
Foreign Policy (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), p.xi
6Ibid., p.xiii
7Ibid., p.xiii


13
Most authors agree that the effect of the press is, in general, more
substantial in foreign policy than in domestic policy because the audience
lacks alternative sources of information. Additionally, the coverage of the
government's foreign policy is far less analytical and critical than domestic
policy reporting, especially at the time when it is formulated and executed.
Looking for media influence on policy, analysts have found a much
greater media effect on the outcome in domestic matters than on foreign
policy issues. However, Berry concludes that, "foreign policy can fail with
or without the press."8 According to the literature, it also seems clear that
media impact on foreign policy varies enormously from issue to issue.
2.2 The Creators of the Images of Foreign Countries and Politicians
Editors' offices in the United States have various sources for
reporting about a foreign country. Among them are the government, the
president, news agencies, and foreign correspondents. What impact these
different actors have will be discussed in the following section.
2.2.1 The Role of Editors in Foreign Policy Reporting
Political journalists report on events, interpret the news, and claim
for themselves the control of political action. Journalists also might
influence political outcomes by the way they report events. Therefore, no
matter who tries to influence published information, the final decision
about what is broadcast or published is made by journalists in the United
8Ibid., p.144


14
States. The foreign editor, especially, plays a key role in the selection
process, the decision where an article is placed in the publication and on
which topic a commentary is written.
The key role and key power of journalists in shaping the image of
countries and politicians lies in the selection of news that is published.
Kunczik argues that international news stories are selected in basically the
same way as national or regional news. Superpowers and
geographically/culturally closer states have a greater chance to be
considered in the media than other countries. Economic and military
links as well as ideological similarities between two countries also increase
the chance of a report.9 According to the results of the "Foreign Image
Study" conducted by Srebemy-Mohammadi, who investigated the
international news content in twenty-nine worldwide media systems
(newspapers, radio, television), journalists select foreign news by means of
universally common criteria. The unusual (catastrophes, uprisings, etc.)
receives special interest. For U.S. newspapers, the author classified 39% of
all news stories in the New York Times; 42% in the Washington Post, 25%
in the Los Angeles Times, and 19% in the New York Daily News as
international news stories,10 In terms of topics covered in international
news the author discovered that politics dominated news reporting
everywhere. The other overall finding was the prominence of
9Michael Kunczik "Public Relation fur Staaten,"[Public Relation for States] In Massenkommunikatioti
[Masscommunication] editors Friedhelm Neidhardt, Rainer Lepsius and Hartmut Esser (Opladen:
Westdeutscher Verlag, 1989), p.167, translation by the author
10Annabelle Srebemy-Mohammadi "The 'World of the News' Study," Journal of Communication, Winter
1984, p.124


15
regionalism. Sreberny-Mohammadi states that "every national system
devoted most attention to events happening within and to actors
belonging to its immediate geographical region."11 The quantitative data
showed that this focus characterized between 23% and 63% of all
international news in every system.11 12
Furthermore, Sreberny-Mohammadi points out that "the most
contentious area of current debate on international communication has
been the role of Western news agencies as the dominant creators and
gatekeepers of news flows."13 Many media institutions rely at least partly
on such agencies as a source of information about foreign countries. The
data collected by the author show that the big four Western news agencies
(UPI, AP, AFP, Reuters) represent the second set of sources for
international news. In these cases, the agencies are explicitly mentioned as
authors of the news stories. However, the main difficulty with regard to
the role of the news agency is "to reveal a significant amount of possible
secondary gatekeeping in the selection, interpretation, and processing of
news that originally may have been culled from external sources."14 In
editors' offices, a mixture of information coming from foreign
correspondents, local journalists, and news agencies are frequent. In these
cases, it is unclear where the information presented is coming from.
Another important aspect of the selection and evaluation of foreign
news by American journalists is the variable of cultural bias. Berry points
11Ibid., p.127
12Ibid.
13Ibid., p.128
14Ibid.


out that the cultural bias of American journalists is not simply the belief
"my country right or wrong." What we find instead is, "a natural bias to
have the United States succeed, so that it is secure, prosperous, prestigious,
and contributing to world progress."15 Berry argues that in general the
cultural bias tends to place reporters on the side of the United States
government.
In sum, we can argue that the main power of journalists is the
selection of published news, which creates the final image. Applying these
ideas to U.S. media coverage of Germany, we have to consider the close
relationship between the country and the U.S.. Germany has not only been
a military ally for over forty years, but following German reunification is
also an emerging European superpower, criteria considered important by
Sreberny-Mohammadi. We can further argue that as a consequence of the
close relationship between the two countries, multiple participants
contribute to the image. Journalists can depend not only on the president,
government officials or press agencies as news information, they also can
rely on their own media personnel within Germany.
2.2.2 The President of the United States and the Media
The president of the United States is the focal point of the American
political system, especially in foreign policy matters, and consequently, the
media need to cover him. The scholarly literature therefore pays close
attention to describing the reciprocal relationship between the media and
15Nicholas O. Berry Foreign Polic]/ And The Press An Analysis of The New York Times Coverage of US
Foreign Policy (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), p.141


the U.S. president. The relevance of presidential foreign policy coverage
can be seen in the President's ability to place foreign countries and their
leaders on the American news agenda. Since presidential foreign policy
action is covered regularly by the media, the president is also a carrier of
information about foreign countries. In addition, presidential diplomatic
actions, such as summits, provide one opportunity for foreign leaders to
achieve coverage in the U.S. media.
Grossman and Kumar argue that the ultimate significance of the
president/media relationship depends on what is published in the media
as information about the president: "Because the media is the main
intermediary between the president and the public, conflicts occur between
\
White House officials and news organizations over which message will
appear, what information will be available, and which activities reporters
will be allowed to cover."16 The outcome will, according to the authors,
determine if the presidential position is supported Or rejected by the
public.
Rodger Streitmatter claims that presidential personalities determine
the way in which they are covered in the media. "More robust presidents
get more general coverage and more personal coverage," he
hypothesizes.17 The author measured front page stories in three national
newspapers, as well as stories about the president's personal lives.
Streitmatter found his hypothesis verified. First, "robust, outgoing
16Ibid., p.238
17Rod ger Streitmatter "The Impact of Presidential Personality on News Coverage in Major Newspapers,"
Journalism Quarterly, Spring 1985,p.66


Presidents received 49% more general news coverage than quiet, reserved
presidents received. [Second], robust, outgoing presidents received 87%
more personal news coverage than quiet, reserved presidents received."18
Consequently, the president, to a certain degree, shapes his own image by
the way he presents issues, deals with them, and presents himself as a
personality. Streitmatter concludes finally that his results have far-
reaching significance in many ways: "The fact that presidents with
extroverted personalities receive dramatically more news coverage may be
a hidden factor in American politics that influences a president's ability to
get elected, to; win the popularity of the public and to lead the nation."19
Streitmatter's findings seem to be especially applicable for the image of
George Bush. As Thomas Dye points out, "George Bush inverted Ronald
Reagan's approach to the media by lowering the president's visibility and
increasing access to reporters."20 Bushs goal was to minimize media
criticism and when criticism was unavoidable to reduce its impact. Bush's
passive media role contributed to weak media coverage about his actions.
In his first year in office Bush attracted only a third of the coverage that
Reagan did in his first year.21 He was mentioned in less than one news
story per evening news show, inducing CBS's Lesley Stahl to remark that
"this White House doesn't care if the president gets on the evening news
18Ibid., p.68
19Ibid., p.66
20Thomas R. Dye, Harmon S. Zeigler, and Robert Lichter American Politics in the Media Age, fourth
edition (Belmont CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1992), p.225
21Ibid.


or not."22 The authors imply that the way the media covered Bush had a
direct impact on his approval ratings. Ratings climbed when the President
received positive coverage and dropped slightly when coverage was
negative. The authors also observed that rising polls for Bush were mostly
related to foreign policy issues. International crises were the only times
Bush received good press.
2.2.3 The U.S. Government as Source for American News Media
"It is now well established that the mass media in the United States
look to government officials as the source of most of the daily news they
report."23 This statement by Lance W. Bennett reflects a common practice
in journalism today. Political leaders, such as the president, are often not
available for journalistic inquiries, and usually other government officials
take their place. This leads to a dominance of government officials as
sources which can be seen in Bennett's characterization of the voices that
are heard in the media stories. In order to explain this development
Bennett proposes the following hypothesis: "Mass media news
professionals . tend to 'index' the range of voices and viewpoints in
both news and editorials according to the range of views expressed in
mainstream government debate about a given topic."24 The author points
out five concepts that clarify the hypothesis. First, the hypothesis
concentrates on the behavior of leading press organizations, which set
22cited in Ibid., p.225
23Lance W. Bennett "Toward a Theory of Press-State Relations in the United States" Journal of
Communication, Spring 1990, p.103
24Ibid., p.106


20
standards and influences the daily news agenda. Second, journalists tend
to index legitimate voices, such as voices from prominent officials, in
their coverage, rather than the voices of extreme positions in the
government. Third, social voices outside the official range of debate are
admitted occasionally into journalistic accounts. Fourth, the indexing
hypothesis applies to everyday issues, crises, and policies rather than to
coverage of special events, such as elections. Finally, the use of social
voices varies depending on the issue. Social voices will be more intense in
coverage of civil liberties than in the coverage of foreign policy or
monetary policy.25
2.2.4 American Foreign Correspondents in West Germany
American media correspondents in Germany certainly have an
influence in shaping the picture of Germany Americans have because
these correspondents are within the other culture. In his 1987 study about
American correspondents in West Germany, Marten used quantitative as
well as qualitative methods to examine the way ninety American
journalists saw themselves, their fields of activity and their impressions of
West Germany. Martens found that the correspondents relied more upon
their German journalist colleagues as sources of information than on
official German sources. In the coverage by correspondents, political and
economic topics dominated, especially when the covered events and
tendencies were related to the United States. Martens also observed that
25Ibidv pp.106-107


21
the U.S. correspondents tended to use reporting styles which allowed
them to express their personal opinions. The author explained that most
of the American journalists in Germany see themselves as part of a
journalistic elite, with a certain influence on the German-American
relationship.
According to Marten, American correspondents describe "the
German character . dominated by a very 'active' component with
deficits in their views towards solutions to actual problems."26 Martens
also found that age and political orientation affected corespondents' view
of the Bundesregierung.27 Older,28 conservative journalists take a more
positive view of the Kohl-government than the younger, more liberal
ones. In addition, Marten found that correspondents see German attitudes
and characteristics more critically than the American public. As an
example, German spontaneity and sociability received lower ratings from
the journalists than from the American public.
The empirical data collected by Martens revealed that forty percent
of the correspondents have a positive opinion of the German government
while 37% take a negative stand. Seventy-seven percent believe that West
Germany is a reliable partner in NATO, while only 17% have doubts about
it. On the question of whether they believe that German reunification
26Eckhard Marten, "Zwischen Skepsis und Bewunderung Zum Tatigkeitsprofil, Selbstverstandnis und
Deutschlandbild amerikanischer Auslandskorrespondenten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland."
[Between Skepticism and Admiration the way American Correspondents in West Germany see
themselves, their field of activity and Germany] Publizistik, 1987, p.28, translation by the author
22German: Federal Government
28The average age of the correspondents is 44, whereby the age group of 40 to 60 and the very young age
group are over represented.


22
would make peace in Europe more secure or insecure, 9% declared it
would make the situation more secure, 37% believe the opposite, and 46%
were undecided. Marten also asked the journalists if they believed that the
Germans had overcome their national socialistic history completely,
partially or not at all. Three percent felt Germans had overcome their
history, 71% felt they had overcome it partially, and 17% believed Nazi
history has not been overcome at all.29
We demonstrated in the literature review, that scholars identified a
relationship between the American media and foreign policy, which they
described as either cooperative, competitive, or dominated by the U.S.
government. We also pointed out that various actors, through their
profession or by political action, contribute to international news coverage.
Journalists certainly remain in the center of this process. In addition to
deciding if the president, government officials or foreign domestic sources
are part of the news story, they also take the initiative in describing and
evaluating international events. Finally, it is also important to keep in
mind that the media foreign policy relation is closely intertwined with
the country the Unites States is dealing with. This aspect seems to be
important in two regards. First, countries with closer ties to the U.S.
receive generally greater news coverage. Second, the closeness to a foreign
country increases the available sources of information for the American
media.
29Eckhard Marten, "Zwischen Skepsis und Bewunderung Zum Tatigkeitsprofil, Selbstverstandnis und
Deutschlandbild amerikanischer Auslandskorrespondenten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland."
[Between Skepticism and Admiration the way American Correspondents in West Germany see
themselves, their field of activity and Germany] Publizistik, 1987, p.29, translation by the author


CHAPTER 3
IMAGES AND THE MEDIA: THEORETICAL CONCEPTS
Since the literature pays little attention to the image of foreign
leaders in the American media, this study draws on the following
constructs to explain the role the media plays in creating the image of
foreign politicians and countries: opinion leaders, agenda setting, foreign
country images, politicians' images, media formats, and images created by
press photos. These concepts, which all have to be seen in the context of
the interaction between media coverage and public opinion, have been
selected based on the following chain of reasoning. First, foreign countries
and politicians are covered by the American media when events or
political actions are brought to the media's attention. In practice, this
function is usually performed by opinion leaders. Second, the image of a
foreign country or politician tends to be created when political actions are
permanently or at least regularly present on the U.S. national agenda. The
concept of agenda setting is therefore of interest for this study. Third, once
on the media agenda regular coverage creates an overall image of a
country. Fourth, continuous news coverage of a country often centers on
the actions, statements, or policies of the country's political leader.
Therefore, the media also creates and shapes the image of this political
leader. Fifth, the connection between the media and politicians is not one-
sided, but interactive. The media shapes images of politicians, and


politicians, in turn, try to influence the media to establish a desired image.
Finally, press photos not only indicate the importance of an article, they
also create an image.
3.1 The Concept of Opinion Leaders
James Rosenau defines the nation's opinion leaders as individuals
and groups who "strongly influence, as well as articulate and represent,
the opinions of the mass public and . have various types of access to the
policy making process and to policy makers."1 Rosenau emphasizes that
the words "influence," "articulate," and "represent," respectively, reflect
his theoretical idea of creating public opinion, by "opinion circulation,"
"opinion forming," and "opinion submitting."1 2
In defining opinion makers, Rosenau includes all members of
society who "occupy positions which enable them regularly to transmit,
either locally or nationally, opinions about an issue to unknown persons
outside of their occupational field."3 In order to locate and classify opinion
makers, Rosenau creates a two-dimensional scale, which when combined
offers four basic types of opinion makers: national multi-issue, national
single-issue, local multi-issue and local single-issue opinion makers.4 For
example, the president of the United States can be categorized as a national
multi-issue opinion maker, and the professor of Asiatic affairs at a near-by
1James N. Rosenau Public Opinion and Foreign Policy, (New York: Douglas College and Rutgers
University, Random House lnc.,1961), p.43
2Ibid.


25
college as local single-issue opinion maker. Following the definition
above, journalists clearly fit into the opinion maker model. Journalists, as
Rosenau notes, "are characterized by the ability to engage in opinion-
making activity that exceeds the scope of their professional competence,
rather than by unlimited access to impersonal channels."5 Journalists of
the Washington Post therefore can be categorized as national, multi-issue
opinion makers.
Rosenau's approach covers the opinion leader and opinion maker
concept in the United States. The author identifies the government,
government officials, journalists, and politicians as important opinion
makers and opinion leaders. However, in talking about foreign policy,
Rosenau completely ignores the opinion making role of foreign leaders or
institutions (e.g. embassies) in the communication system of the United
States. Thus in this study, a major aspect has been the examination of the
role of the contribution of Helmut Kohl or other German sources of
information as opinion maker in the American media.
3.2 The Concept of Agenda Setting
Agenda setting, that is, the ability to set issues on the agenda and to
influence thereby public opinion, is mostly related to governmental or
political institutions, interest groups, and the media. In our examination
we will focus mostly on the research of the media's role in agenda setting.
Everett M. Rogers and James W. Dearing summarize research on agenda
5Ibidv p.51


setting. First, the mass media influence the public agenda. Second, "the
public agenda, once set by, or reflected by, the media agenda, influences the
policy agenda of elite decision makers, and, in some cases, policy
implementations."6 Finally, for some issues, the policy agenda seems to
have a direct, sometimes strong, influence upon the media agenda.7
Shanto Iyengar adds that "an important consequence of agenda setting
concerns the relative weight accorded issue beliefs and opinions when
individuals evaluate political leaders."8 The author explains that news
coverage of an issue not only boosts the issue itself but also endorses the
politicians' viewpoints concerning the issue. Therefore, the way
politicians deal with the issue "becomes a strong determinant of [their]
overall popularity under conditions of heavy . news coverage."9 We can
further assume that the agenda setting effect of the mass media is even
stronger for the evaluation of foreign politicians than for the evaluation
of national politicians. Individual Americans evaluate a foreign
politician's performance solely on the basis of media coverage. This
assumption is supported by the concept of "media-system dependency,"
another construct of agenda setting research. "Media-system dependency is
defined as the degree to which an individual relies on a particular mass
medium or a class of mass media to obtain information to fulfill that
6Everett M. Rogers, and James W. Dearing "Agenda-Setting Research: Where Has It Been, Where Is It
Going?" Communication Yearbook/11, Stanley A. Deetz editor (Newbury Park, London and New Delhi:
Sage Publications, 1988), pp.579
7Ibid., p.580
8Shanto Iyengar "New Directions of Agenda-Setting Research," In Communication Yearbook/11 Stanley A.
Deetz editor (Newbury Park, London and New Delhi: Sage Publications 1988), p.595
9 Ibid., p.595


27
individual's goal."10 11 In foreign policy, the degree people depend on the
media is considerably higher than in domestic affairs, which increases the
media's influence in shaping images of countries and politicians.
With regard to the media, agenda setting is defined as "a supposed
effect of the mass media; the ability of the mass media to set the agenda
and to affect the public's beliefs about what is important."11 Therefore,
editorial judgments, including those relating to the placement and length
of news items, "reflect the relative journalistic salience ascribed to topics
by media personnel. Audiences absorb these saliences from the news
media, incorporating similar priorities into their personal agenda."12
McCombs argues that the agenda setting effect of the media might be the
most important because it orders and organizes our world. In addition, he
points out, "agenda setting is not limited to the correspondence between
salience of topics for the media and the audience, but it also subsumes
such concepts as status conferral, stereotyping, and image making."13 As
Iyengar Shanto argues, most scholars writing about agenda setting agree
that "there can no longer be serious doubt over the ability of the mass
media to influence the political agenda."14
It is important to note that the literature considers agenda setting to
be more important for "issues," defined by Rogers and Dearing "as
10Everett M. Rogers, and James W. Dearing "Agenda-Setting Research: Where Has It Been, Where Is It
Going?" Communication Yearbook/11, Stanley A. Deetz editor (Newbury Park, London and New Delhi:
Sage Publications, 1988), pp.581
11NTC's Mass Media Dictionary R.Terry Ellmore editor (Chicago: National Textbook Company, 1991)
12Maxwell E. McCombs, "Agenda Setting", International Encyclopedia of Communication (Oxford:
University Press, 1989), p.42
13Ibid., p.43
14Shanto Iyengar "New Directions of Agenda-Setting Research," In Communication Yearbook/11 Stanley
A. Deetz editor (Newbury Park, London and New Delhi: Sage Publications 1988), p.595


involving cumulative news coverage of a series of related events that fit
together in a broad category,"15 than for "events," that are limited in time
and space. Thus, events can only have an agenda setting effect if they are
part of a bigger picture, part of an issue. Rogers and Dearing further argue
that it is necessary for an issue to involve contention. Rogers and Dearing
state that "an issue arises when a public with a problem seeks or demands
government action, and there is public disagreement over the best
solution to the problem."16
These preconditions can be applied to Germany and Helmut Kohl.
German reunification demanded U.S. government action, and the
American public disagreed over the best solution to the problem. In
addition, the reunification process represents a broad category nourished
by various "events" which had to be placed into this big picture of uniting
the two Germanys. In sum, we may therefore conclude that the American
media included Germany in their agenda. This also brought Germany as
well as Helmut Kohl to the attention of media consumers.
3.3 The Concept of the Image of Foreign Countries
International communication includes various participants and
strategies such as advertising, the attempt to influence journalists, and the
effort to find the right timing for political action. According to various
studies, the mass media plays an important role in international
15Everett M. Rogers, and James W. Dearing "Agenda-Setting Research: Where Has It Been, Where Is It
Going?" Communication Yearbook/11, Stanley A. Deetz editor (Newbury Park, London and New Delhi:
Sage Publications, 1988), p.566
16Ibid.


communication and editors' offices often are targeted in order to create a
favorable national image.
Kunczik argues that in societies with a free press "world images
transmitted by newspapers exert a substantial influence on the world
image of their readers."17 In addition, he points out that foreign news
reporting has an immeasurable influence on the foreign policy of the
foreign country. The author states that images not only relate to the
present, but also include the past and the future expectations. Kunczik
further explains that the image of nations often reflects the media's
attitude toward outstanding personalities, such as politicians. Helmut
Kohl can be considered such a personality, for his own image has had a
high influence on the image of Germany in the U.S.
3.4 The Concept of the Image of Politicians
Public figures today are primarily known through their images.
These images somehow mask the true or real nature of politicians. This
study will use the definition of Nimmo and Savage who, in the context of
politicians, define an image as "a human construct imposed on an array of
perceived attributes projected by an object, event or person."18 This
definition includes the idea that an image is a subjective mental construct,
is affected by how things are perceived, and is also influenced by projected
messages. Examining the image creating role of the press in the U.S.
17Michael Kunczik, "Public Relation fur Staaten," [Public Relation for States] In Massenkommunikation
[Masscommunication], Friedhelm Neidhardt, Rainer Lepsius and Hartmut Esser editors (Opladen:
Westdeutscher Verlag, 1989), p.170, translation by the author
18Dan Nimmo, and Robert L. Savage Candidates and their Images Concepts, Methods, and Findings
(Pacific Palisades, CA: Goodyear Publishing Company, 1976), p.8


30
indicates that most research has been done on the image of presidential
candidates and the effect of that image on voting behavior. The same
theories and findings may not always be applicable to Helmut Kohl,
however.
The scholarly literature identifies, according to Patterson, four
factors responsible for creating candidate images. The first, the political
bias of voters, can, with regard to foreign politicians, be ignored. Second,
the personal characteristics of a candidate shape his image; this is described
by Patterson as the "candidate determined"19 explanation. A third
component is the "medium determined"20 explanation which argues that
some politicians appear more favorably on television than on radio or
vice versa. The last influential factor, which Patterson criticizes as being
ignored by researchers, is the "journalist determined"21 explanation.
David L. Altheide and Robert P. Snow feel that the behavior of today's
politicians is strongly intertwined with media formats, making politics
media politics. According to their theory, image-creating messages do not
exist until they are interpreted through a symbolic process, which takes
place through the media. Politicians and their institutions have been the
most affected by these media practices because media logic has redefined
political action and rhetoric. The media not only transforms politics but
also delineates "how the criteria of media impact and success were
gradually merging with the production of political ads, and the timing of
^Thomas E. Patterson "The Press and Candidate Images," International Journal of Public Opinion
Research, 1989, p. 125
^Ibid., p.125
21Ibid.


31
appearances."22 The authors point out that since the mid-1970s, media
logic has dominated presidential campaigns, the style and topics of
political messages, and the substance and focus of political events and
issues.
Altheide and Snow argue further that politicians, through the
technology and logic of the mass media, are able to change visual and
auditory signals in a highly deceiving manner, creating a certain image of
a politician. This media logic has, according to the authors, fundamentally
overtaken political life. Although the media-messages cannot change
people's minds completely, they are able to change their views about
issues. Thus distinctions between style and substance are becoming
increasingly cloudy. Altheide and Snow argue that "politicians are
increasingly sensitive to media perceptions of actions, and often take those
actions largely on the basis of what they feel it will do for their media
images and what effect it may have on opinion polls."23
3.5 The Concept of Media Formats
Knowing media procedures, politicians try to influence the news-
making process. Political messages, according to Altheide and Snow, "are
constituted through a communication process involving a medium, a
technology, rules or 'codes' for constituting the intended message, and an
audience that actively interprets and constructs the meaning."24
22David L. Altheide, and Robert P. Snow Media Worlds in the Postjournalism Era (New York: Aldine De
Gruyter, 1991), p.84
23Ibid., p.103
24Ibid., p.86


32
Politicians create formats, allowing them to direct the content and
emphasis of messages, style of presentation, and relationship of the
messages to the entire program. The authors explain further that the news
presented is inextricably tied to the organization: the number of personnel
and the scheduling of events. These practical considerations lead
journalists to select events that can be presented in a short time span and
encapsulated as the significant aspects of an event. Therefore, journalists
usually like press conferences and debates because they provide
controversial statements in a short time. Altheide and Snow also point
out that todays demand for entertaining news has also changed the
format of presidential politics. A reporter has to "stress action, movement,
facial expressions, and visual process."25 Finally, Altheide and Snow
imply that the audience's perception of politicians is enormously
influenced by their appearance. In order to fit into the media format,
politicians have to consider the media formats, including their visual
grammar.
This concept has importance for this study because the Washington
Post covers Germany and Helmut Kohl not only by editors located in the
U.S., but also by foreign correspondents in Germany. Therefore, German
politicians have the possibility of direct access to the journalists who create
their image and the image of Germany in the American media.
25Ibid., p.93


3.6 Press Photos and Image Creation
Photos of politicians reveal gestures and expressions in a split
second. Pictures themselves are only images having no meaning. For the
audience who sees these pictures, however, they represent much more.
Research shows that readers are more easily influenced by a picture,
sending messages to the reader and creating images of the shown
politician. We therefore give an overview of this research mainly on the
basis of the book from Hans Mathias Kepplinger: Presentation Effects:
Experimental Research on the Effects of Press Photos and TV-Films.26
The general impression of a person which is conveyed by a picture
shows three dimensions: social behavior, qualifications and decisiveness.
The perception of persons shown on a picture can be characterized by four
assumptions: First, pictures show central and less important
characteristics, which influence the perception of the person. Second,
hidden characteristics are added by the viewer out of the context. Third,
this process of adding central information influences the interpretation of
the existing, less central characteristics. Fourth, through the variation of
central characteristics on different pictures, the perception of the person
varies accordingly.27
In a third finding in this research area, Kepplinger argues that
positive impressions about the person's social behavior usually go along
2^Hans Mathias Kepplinger, Darstellungseffecte: experimentelle Untersuchung zur Wirkung von
Pressefolos und Femsehfimen [Presentation effects: Experimental Research on the Effects of Press photos
and TV-films] (Freiburg/Miinchen: Verlag Karl Alber, 1987)
27Ibid., p.176, translation by the author


with negative impressions about their qualifications and decisiveness and
vice versa.28 Fourth, pictures taken from a lower position or from the
distance awaken a negative impression while close and big portraits are
perceived as positive. Fifth, illustrated news information with a very
negative photo and a positive text are more likely to be perceived as
humorous because there is an obvious discrepancy between the photo and
the text. The other way, positive pictures and negative text, however are
mostly judged as untrustworthy. Sixth, for every person there exist typical
photos representing the average impression built up which is created by a
series of pictures. In addition, for every person there exist also extreme
photos which create completely different impressions. Seventh, series of
positive as well as negative photos provokes different reactions and
impressions about the character of a person in different groups of society.
These impressions are usually lasting. Eighth, the ideas and characteristics
of a person, created by a series of negative and positive photos, also have
an impact on the credibility of positive or negative information about this
person. Viewers who have seen the positive photos are more likely to
believe positive statements while those who have been confronted with
negative pictures are more likely convinced that the negative statements
are true. Finally, photos in newspapers also influence the assumptions of
the viewers about the motives and behavior of the person shown.
28Ibid., pp. 9 19


Viewers of positive photos tend to assume that the person has positive
motives while negative pictures create the belief of negative motives.29
Kepplinger concludes that photos and news films create "lasting
personal stereotypes, which have an impact on the reliability, motives,
and behavior of the portrayed person."30 These media effects influence the
daily life of politicians, because as in the center of media coverage, they
often are portrayed in pictures. However, pictures in most cases interact
with the article itself. It is therefore hard to measure whether public
perception is based on the article or the picture.
The theoretical framework for this study demonstrates that with the
help of media effect concepts, the image creating role of the media can be
postulated. It seems feasible to conclude that the concepts described are
applicable in describing the role of the media in shaping the image of
foreign countries and foreign leaders. Following the concept of opinion
leaders, journalists and leading politicians, like foreign politicians, clearly
are identified as opinion leaders, with the ability to set the policy and the
media agenda. The concept of agenda setting supports the assumption that
the media has great influence in bringing up and boosting issues and the
politicians related to the issue through continuous coverage.
Furthermore, the agenda setting effect places an issue on the media agenda
and on the public agenda; shaping images of countries and foreign leaders.


36
The effects seem to be even stronger on foreign leaders because alternative
influences, like personal experience, play a minor role in this process. We
finally can assume that the concepts of foreign country images, images of
politician's, and media formats gain particular importance for countries
with close ties to the U.S., which are therefore directly covered by
American foreign correspondents. The American media reports from
inside of the foreign country, and has direct access to domestic sources of
the foreign country. In addition, following the concept of media formats,
foreign politicians also have the possibility to interact with the journalists
who report about their action. Determining the degree to which the
presentation shapes a positive or negative image depends, however, on
the country, on events about the country relevant to the U.S. and on the
performance of the leader himself. Consequently, the validity of the
described theoretical framework has. to be examined for each single
country and each single foreign leader.


CHAPTER 4
CHANCELLOR KOHL AND GERMAN REUNIFICATION DIPLOMACY
In order to integrate the results of this study into the historical
context of political events in the relevant time period from 1988 to 1991,
this part of the study summarizes German reunification events. In this
overview, the focus is both on the events and political actions that were
taken to achieve an international acceptance of German reunification and
on the important domestic events in negotiating reunification. These are
also the main events which, during the reunification period, were covered
by the Washington Post. In addition, the goal of this part is to highlight
the role of the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl as well as the role of
President George Bush in the reunification process.
In his book The Diplomacy of German Unification, Stephen F.
Szabo points out that only a small group of people (he estimates less than
thirty in all) was involved in the reunification negotiations. He argues
that international aspects of the German reunification were basically the
work of eleven men. On the German side, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and
his National Security Advisor Horst Teltschik, Foreign Minister Hans-
Dietrich Genscher and his aides, Frank Elbe and Dieter Kastrup, were the
most important negotiators. The key players on the American side were
George Bush, James Baker, and Baker's aide Robert Zoellick and for the


38
Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, Eduard Shevardnadze, and his close
aide Sergei Tarasenko.1
Diplomacy on the issue of the German unification took place
between the opening of the wall on November 9, 1989, and the official
unification of Germany on October 3, 1990. Stephen F. Szabo distinguishes
four phases of diplomatic action. The first phase started after hundreds of
East Germans fled to Austria via Hungary in August 1989; Genscher
negotiated arrangements for thousands of East German refugees to leave
the embassy in Prague; mass demonstrations took place in Leipzig; "The
surge of 'resettlers' [German refugees from German Democratic Republic
(GDR)],. . swelled into a broad and virtually raging torrent that
threatened to defy any and all control";1 2 and Honecker, East German
General Secretary, resigned. The major diplomatic events in this first
phase were the opening of the Hungarian border to Austria for East
German refugees, the announcement of Kohl's Ten Point Plan, and the
collapse of the Modrow government in mid-January, the last
administration guided by a politician of the East German
Sozialdemokratische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) before the general
elections. These events created the situation from which a possible
reunification emerged. Chancellor Kohl, who was on a five day visit to
Poland, on November 9, 1989, was also affected by developments in the
GDR that had taken a dramatic turn towards the end of the summer. On
1Stephen F. Szabo, The diplomacy of German unification (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p.18
2Giinther Miichler, and Klaus Hofmann, Helmut Kohl Chancellor of German Unity (Bonn: Press and
Information Office of the German Federal Government, 1992), p.173


39
the day of Kohl's arrival in Warsaw, it became known that the GDR
government had decided to open the border crossings along the Berlin
Wall. Kohl's decision to request an interruption of the Poland visit was a
delicate balancing act. On the one hand the Chancellor felt he was needed
in Berlin and Bonn, and on the other hand Germany's relationship to
Poland had been problematic because of problems German minorities
were experiencing in Poland, the Polish border issue, and Bonn's
consideration that Poland played a key role in the reform movements in
Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, Kohl flew to Berlin and Bonn, where he
had called for an extraordinary session of the Federal Cabinet. As Miichler
describes, while in Bonn and Berlin, Kohl placed a number of telephone
calls to various political leaders, including GDR Council of State President-
Egon Krenz, George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, and Francois Mitterand
where the Chancellor elaborated on the political repercussions of the most
recent all-German events. Returning to Poland, Kohl "sought to ensure
that the Poles did not gain the impression that the process of
understanding and reconciliation . was now of secondary importance."3
Believing that immediate steps had to follow the opening of the
Berlin Wall, Kohl announced on November 9, 1989, his Ten Point Plan
which proposed creating confederate structures, with the goal of
establishing a federation. The program suggested on the one side
immediate measures to improve the humanitarian situation in the GDR
as well continuing efforts of cooperation in all areas of daily life. In
3Ibid., p.l 77


40
addition, the Ten Point Plan promised intensive economic aid as soon as
the GDR introduced profound changes in their political and economic
system.4 At this time, George Bush was not worried about developments
in East Germany. In an New York Times interview Bush said: "And yet I
don't think we ought to be out pushing the concept of reunification, or
setting the timetable, or coming across the Atlantic over here making a lot
of new announcements on this subject."5 Bush's passivity was strongly
criticized. However, from the beginning Bush took the point of view that
"Bonn must take the lead on the national issue, saying that German
question was a 'matter for the Germans.' "6 Bush's only precondition was
that German reunification occur peacefully. The President had to be
careful not to undermine Gorbachev's perestroika and on the other side
not to stabilize a continuous two nation solution. Szabo argues that "Bush
and Baker were sensitive to the mounting criticism in the United States
that they were not responding adequately to the dramatic changes in the
Soviet Union and Eastern Germany."7 Szabo adds that Bush as well as
Baker recognized by the time of May 1989 NATO summit that Germany
was now the key power in Europe, and the European integration process
had to be guided in a non-nationalist direction. Bush labeled the new
German-American relationship as one of "partners in leadership" and
4Wemer Weidenfeld and Karl-Rudolf Korte, editors, Handworterbuch zur deutschen Einheit [Concise
Dictionary to German reunification], Bundeszentrale fiir politische Bildung, Bonn, 1991, p.189,
translation by the author
5R.W. Apple, Jr. "Possibility of German Reunification is no Cause for Alarm, Bush says," New York
Times, October 25, 1989, p.Al
^Stephen F. Szabo, The diplomacy of German unification (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p.41
7Ibid., p.42


41
introduced a "new Atlanticism"8 at the NATO summit in early December
1989, followed by the Malta Summit. Bush is quoted as saying: "German
unification should occur in the context of Germany's continued
commitment to NATO and an increasingly integrated European
Community."9 America's new policy was summarized by George Bush on
December 4 in Brussels when he met Chancellor Kohl. Bush emphasized
four principles, namely that the principle of self-determination be
respected; that it occur as part of broader process of European integration
which included NATO and the European Community (EC); that it be
peaceful and regard the interests of other Europeans; and finally that it
should occur with respect for the borders as stated in the Helsinki Final
Act.10 After this meeting America's commitment to fully support German
unification was official. The West German government received complete
backing from Bush for further negotiations.
The creation of a new European security system constituted the
events in the second stage of unification diplomacy: the introduction of
the 2+4 negotiations, the Kohl-Genscher-Gorbachev meeting on February
10, 1990, in Moscow, where they obtained the key to German unity, the
Ottawa Open Skies Summit on February 12, 1990, where the 2+4 idea was
accepted, and the meeting of Bush and Kohl at Camp David on February
24-25,1990.
8Ibid.
9Ibid.
10see Ibid., p.42


42
The idea of the 2+4 round to conduct the negotiations about
reunification with the two Germanys and the four World War II allies
U.S.A., Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain, came out of the White
House after George Bush realized that the GDR was collapsing and that
German unity was uncertain. After consultations between Bush, Baker,
and Baker's aides, Robert Zoellick and Dennis Ross, the U.S. came up with
the 2+4 plan. While the two German states should decide about internal
issues on their own, international aspects should be solved according to
the 2+4 plan, leading to a so-called "new European security architecture."11
Before Kohl's departure to Moscow in February 1990, George Bush
wrote Kohl what administration sources called "a very important" letter,
in which Bush spelled out "what the Soviets could do to the Germans, or
threaten to do, and what the United States could do for Germany to
counter any anticipated Soviet actions. The letter was, in the American
view, crucial to bolster Kohl for a visit that Bush described as the most
important trip to the Soviet Union by a West German Chancellor since
Adenauer's in 1955."11 12 And the Kohl-Genscher-Gorbachev meeting
confirmed Bush's prophecy. The negotiations secured the key to
reunification: Gorbachev agreed to let the German people decide the unity
question; Kohl proposed economic aid for East Germany, whereupon
Gorbachev said that Bonn would free Moscow from this burden; Genscher
confirmed no further claim of territory; and Kohl resumed the meeting as
11 Ibid., p.53
12Ibid., p.62


43
"the key to German unity."13 On the other hand the Soviet leader also
made clear that external aspects still needed to be negotiated.
At the Open Skies Summit in Ottawa on February 12, 1990, the
foreign ministers agreed to start formal talks on German unity under the
2+4 framework. The New York Times reported that the meeting of the
foreign minister of NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations in Ottawa
"grabbed control of the steamroller [Kohl] and put it back in a track that
should insure serious deliberations on the toughest issues of European
security."14 In Ottawa, the Bush administration for the first time proposed
a plan for a speedy reunification, taking into account the fears of the
Soviets and other European states. Szabo mentions two key factors that set
the parameters for the final agreement to the 2+4 plan, which also are
important for an understanding of the American diplomatic position.
These two key factors were that all six players recognized a rapid decline of
Soviet power and at the same time the rise of German power.15
The main diplomatic issue remaining for Bush to solve was the
new European security question. Bush and Kohl agreed at their February
meeting at Camp David on February 24-25, 1990, that Germany would
remain in NATO, that the GDR should have a "special military status,"
and that U.S. forces should stay in Germany as a guarantor for stability.
However, Kohl and Bush had conflicting opinions about the issue of the
13Ibidv p.63
14"Steering the German Steamroller", New York Times, February 13,1990,
15Stephe n F. Szabo, The diplomacy of German unification (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p.67


44
German-Polish border.16 Kohl refused to give a guarantee of the Polish
border because of constitutional restrictions. Bush on the other hand
referred to the Helsinki Final Act which laid down the inviolability of
current borders in Europe. Szabo pointed out that "the President spoke of
an 'alignment' rather than an agreement of U.S. and German positions on
this issue."17 The Economist referred in its coverage to the State
Department's evaluation of the meeting. The first evaluation given by the
State Department said that the administration continued to be exasperated
by Kohl's equivocations on the Polish border but was convinced that it
would be all right. The second interpretation states that Bush's remarks
were a sign to the West Germans that, "however much America supports
unification, it is not prepared to accept everything that the Germans do."18
R.W. Apple describes the Camp David meeting in the New York Times as
a show of similar views and common dreams, "but on the difficult aspect
of German reunification, they spoke with distinctly different voices while
avoiding outright discord."19 The problem was finally solved in the
German cabinet in the way that both German parliaments agreed to the
inviolability of the Polish border and that after the election in March a
treaty with Poland would be discussed. Apple also mentions a discord
between Bush and Kohl about the question of American troops in
16This issue had been a continuous problem between Germany and Poland. At the close of World War n,
Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had extended Poland's western border 300 miles, absorbing, among other
areas, the eastern German cities of Danzig and Stettin. A majority of the ethnic Germans in Poland still
resided in this former German area. Since the West German constitution did not recognize the division of
Germany, Kohl argued that only a government elected by both sides of Germany had the legal authority to
formally accept the border.
17Ibid., p.74
18"Diplomacy: Panglott v Mettemich", TTte Economist, March 3,1990, p.23
19R.W. Jr. Apple, "A Disquiet on Germany", New York Times, February 26,1990, p.Al


45
Germany. Bush emphasized a fully integrated Germany in NATO,
including Germany's military (Bundeswehr) in the NATO command
structure, while Kohl pointed out the sovereignty of a unified Germany
where Soviet and U.S. troops should be stationed only for a transitional
period. According to Apple, Bush chose the formulation, "the enemy now
is instability and unpredictability"20 instead of saying that he wanted to
keep the troops to guard Germany. But at the same time the President felt
compelled to maintain the best possible relations with a Germany that
might soon be an economic, political and diplomatic power on par with
the United States.
Domestically, the "Alliance for Germany" a group of several
rather conservative parties, for whom the Chancellor intensively
campaigned, won the first free elections in GDR territory in 58 years on
March 18, 1990. With 48.1% the Alliance outdistanced the SPD (21.8%) and
the former GDR party PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) with 16.3%.
This result legitimized the chairman of the East German CDU, Lothar de
Maiziere, to form a coalition government.
The third phase in German reunification diplomacy included the
failure of the Washington Summit between Bush and Gorbachev and the
successes of formulating a new NATO position as well as the German-
Soviet agreement in the Caucasus. At the forefront of the Washington
Summit between Bush and Gorbachev, at the end of May 1990, Kohl
20Ibid.,p.A8


46
expected from Bush that the Soviet leader would leave Washington with
positive results, namely a movement on conventional arms control in
Vienna as well as American support for economic reforms. The Kohl
government had in mind that success for Gorbachev in Washington
would strengthen his weakened position at home. Kohl realized that
reunification could only be accomplished with Gorbachev as the head of
state. All together, the summit must be judged as a failure at least
concerning the question of German reunification. Bush could not
persuade Gorbachev to accept his "Nine Assurances" plan for a future
Germany. The plan included: 1) a reaffirmation of a non-nuclear
Germany; 2) limited size for the Bundeswehr; 3) NATO negotiations about
short range nuclear weapons; 4) a promise of a less threatening NATO
strategy towards the USSR; 5) a reaffirmation of the Polish and Soviet
border; 6) an agreement not to place NATO troops in East Germany; 7)
financial aid for the withdrawal of Soviet troops; 8) a proposal to
institutionalize the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(CSCE) with a leading role for the Soviet Union; and finally 9) extensive
German economic assistance for the Soviet Union.21 The negotiations
broke down because Gorbachev wouldn't accept a united Germany in
NATO. Additionally, the German wish for economic support was blocked
by Bush. In the New York Times, Bill Keller cited a comment from a
21Stephen F. Szabo, The diplomacy of German unification (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p.87






47
Russian journalist saying that "Bush had all the trump cards, and he
didn't play them."22
At the NATO Summit in London on July 5, 1990, Bush, along
with Kohl, had to deliver on what he had already promised to Gorbachev:
a NATO strategy of less confrontation and more cooperation with the
Soviet Union. Bush tried to take the lead in the discussion by presenting
the U.S. plan, a plan to use nuclear weapons not as part of "flexible
response" but of "last resort." The summit was a struggle because the
nuclear European powers, France and Britain, who were concerned about
their own security interests that might be in danger with a changed
strategy. Bush had to function as a middleman between the Germans and
the other partners. In the end, the partners agreed on the following points:
transformation of the East-West relation from one of confrontation to one
of cooperation; replacement of the "forward defense-strategy" with the
strategy of "reduced forward presence"; modification of the nuclear
strategy away from flexible response to a view of nuclear weapons as a last
resort; and finally support of the CSCE.23 In sum, Szabo judges the new
doctrine as a compromise between the British/French position and
Germany's position. Bush's American position was in between these two.
On the way from London to Houston, Bush was the first who informed
Gorbachev of the results by sending him a message telling him "we
delivered."24 On the basis of the new NATO strategy, Gorbachev and
22Bill Keller, "Assessing the Summit: Beyond the Glowing Words, Stubborn Problems," New York Times,
Tune 3,1990, p.AlO
23see Stephen F. Szabo, The diplomacy of German unification (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p.93
24Ibid., p.92


48
Shewardnaze were able to convince the party congress of the unification of
Germany which finally made the agreement in Caucasus possible.
During this German-USSR meeting in the Caucasus the two heads
of state, Gorbachev and Kohl, agreed to the following points: the Soviets
agreed to give up all claims as a victor power of World War II; Germany
agreed that the reunification would include the FRG, the GDR, and Berlin
and allowed the Soviets a three to four year term for the withdrawal of
their troops; no NATO troops would be stationed in East Germany; and
allied forces would stay in Berlin until the Soviet troops had left the
country. The price of unity was high: for example, $7.5 billion for the
resettlement of Soviet forces. The Americans and other countries were
surprised by this quick and unexpected agreement. Secretary Baker's
reaction for example produced one of the memorable quotes of the year,
described by one correspondent as a response "with a circumlocution that
left even diplomats scratching their heads. . This is a delightful surprise
to the extent that it is a surprise, and it is only a surprise to the extent that
we anticipated."25 On the other hand, France complained that Kohl made
the 2+4 negotiations "a pro forma framework of secondary importance."26
Szabo concludes that "in any case, the agreement had been worked out
with the Western allies, especially the United States, and could not be
correctly characterized as having been reached unilaterally by the
Germans."27
25Ibid., p.107
26ibid.
27Ibid., p.108


49
The main domestic events in this period of German reunification
were the establishment of the monetary, economic, and social union,
which entered into being on July 1, 1990. To introduce the social market
economy in East Germany, the GDR had to accept all legal and
institutional framework of the West German system, which meant giving
up the centralized and planned socialistic economy. A major problem
hereby was the privatization of the state owned enterprises in which 80%
of the East German workforce was employed, A key role for this task was
given to the so called Treuhandanstalt. This institution took over all
former state owned enterprises with the goal of transforming them into
competitive companies with their privatization as final goal. With regard
to the monetary union, as of this date the Deutsche Mark was the sole
legal tender in the GDR. The main issue here was the exchange rate from
the East German currency to the Deutsche Mark. For salaries and wages
the negotiators finally agreed to an exchange rate of 1:1, even if the
productivity of an East German worker was estimated to reach only 40 to
50% of a worker in West Germany. For most other economic values an
exchange rate of 2:1 was established. In general it must be noted that
transformation from the socialist to the market economy was more
difficult than the Kohl government and experts anticipated. For Helmut
Kohl, this meant unpopular decisions, like tax increases in 1991, measures
he excluded in earlier stages of German reunification


50
The last diplomatic phase ran from the Kohl-Gorbachev meeting
in the Caucasus through the 2+4 conferences in Paris and Moscow and the
final treaty signing in Moscow on September 12, 1990, to the signing of the
Trans-Atlantic Charter in Paris in November.28 The Paris meeting on July
17 ratified the agreement on the Polish border. The final meeting in
Moscow on September 12 completed the process with the signing of a
short treaty on the final settlement with respect to Germany. The
American position could rely on a public, political and intellectual climate
that was supportive of its efforts and never had to worry about serious
opposition to its course of action, as the unanimous vote of 98 to 0 in the
Senate for approval of the 2+4 treaty demonstrated. Internationally
accepted and domestically negotiated, Germany was officially reunited on
October 3,1990.
Szabo concludes that "the diplomacy of German unification was
typical of diplomacy in the late twentieth century, i.e., conducted by
politicians, not diplomats, and done via telephone and private
conversations facilitated by jet travel."29 It was obvious that the diplomacy
of German unification worked mostly in small informed circles without
the actual diplomats. Szabo argues that this model of diplomacy,
characterized by personal contacts, the extended use of telecommunication
systems and jet travel, might be the diplomatic model for the future. This
28Ibid., p.31
29Ibid., p.30


observation is especially important with regard to the media coverage of
the diplomatic process. Cohen for example argues that "because George
Bush prefers to deal privately, because he eschews the grand statement, it
seems he's doing nothing at all. But when it comes to Germany, the
president's critics have been wrong or just as likely misled."30 Bush's
preference for using personal ties to foreign leaders and the using of one-
on-one telephone conversations and personal communications as his
primary instruments of diplomacy makes coverage of presidential
diplomacy quite difficult. While Bush was often criticized for a lack of
vision, he had intimate knowledge of foreign issues and of leading
international politicians. "He was not a strategic thinker but had what the
Germans would call 'Fingerspitzengefiihl', an intuition for the essence of
foreign policy at the tip of his fingers."31 In the case of German
reunification, Bush quickly recognized the importance of this issue and
used his close, personal relationship with Kohl to participate in the
shaping of the unification.
It must also be noted that there can be no doubt that Chancellor
Helmut Kohl was the key player in the international as well as domestic
aspects of German reunification. He was therefore titled by colleagues and
journalists as "Chancellor of Unity" or "Architect of Europe." Even if
many decisions were, in the eyes of the German opposition and many
international critics, rushed and left a united Germany to solve many
30Richard Cohen,"... And Diplomats?" Washington Post, February 211990, p. A21
31Stephen F. Szabo, The diplomacy of German unification (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p.22


52
problems, Kohl considered it necessary to take the chance of unity, as long
as the Soviet Union would allow it. He certainly deserves credit for these
achievements. However, the people and in this study the media, continue
evaluating and judging politicians and the Chancellor on their daily
political actions. So even if Kohl is acknowledged as Chancellor of unity,
his image is assembled out of many positions before, during, and after
reunification. The challenge of the following study is to describe the
Chancellor's image in the context of continuous German politics within
the time period from 1988 to 1991 before, during, and after German
reunification.


CHAPTER 5
THE IMAGE OF GERMANY IN THE AMERICAN MEDIA
The image of Germany presented by the U.S. media is seldom or
never a full or accurate one. American media institutions select and
publish only a small percentage of the available news about Germany. For
those media consumers who lack alternative sources of information about
Germany, the published stories represent more than just a story, they
represent Germany. This assumption is supported by surveys of the
Gallup Institute revealing that only 16% of Americans actually have
visited Germany.1 Based on these results it is therefore feasible to assume
that the majority relies On the media as the source of information about
Germany. Given the importance of the media, this part of the study
examines first the existing secondary data about the image of Germany in
the United States. In a second step the image of Germany created through
the coverage of the Washington Post from 1988 to 1991 is analyzed.
In general the literature indicates that the news media is more
interested in domestic matters and reports facts of another country solely
when they are considered "news." In addition, according to Watson and a
report from the Press and Information Office of the federal German 1
1Bundespresseamt, Das Deutschlandbild In Den USA Das Amerikabild In Deutschland. [The Image of
Germany in the United States The Image of the United States in Germany] (Bonn: Bundespresseamt,
1993), p.23, translation by the author.


government (BPA2), U.S. readers pay very little attention to foreign news
and "only a small and well educated minority in the U.S. follows German
affairs."3 The BPA report adds that in reading the newspaper news about
foreign countries 24% were followed with high attention (40% in TV). In
general, foreign news are seen as rather unimportant to the audience.
Based on a content analysis conducted by the Gallup institute in
instruction for the Press and Information office of the Federal German
government "Germany belongs, with regard to presence in the American
media, to the six countries, which receive the most coverage."4 The BPA
study compared the presence of thirteen different countries in the
American media from March 1992 to February 1993. News reports about
Germany in television news make up 13% of all foreign news reports,
placing Germany in second place in the ranking, right behind news
information about the developments in Russia.5 In the American print
media news about Germany represents, according to the BPA report, 8% of
all international news stories. With that, German news ranks sixth after
Japan (21%), Russia (18%), Mexico (11%), Israel and Great Britain which is
covered in 10% of all foreign news.
2German: Abbreviation for Bundespresseamt [Press and Information Office of the German Federal
Government
3Adam Watson, "Germany & The US Media," In Germany and the United States Changing Perceptions -
Danger and Hope, Lore Amlinger ed., (Stuttgart: Akademic Publishing House, 1987), p.124,, translation
by the author
4Bundespresseamt, Das Deutschlandbild In Den USA Das Amerikabild In Deutschland. [The Image of
Germany in the United States The Image of the United States in Germany] (Bonn: Bundespresseamt,
1993), p.4, translation by the author
5Ibid., p.24


55
5.1 The Image of Germany in the American Media Secondary Data
In an essay about the "Image of America/Germany in the Mass
Media," describing the overall perception, Albrecht Classen argues that the
image one country's media creates about the other is superficial and a
dangerous illusion. While German media concentrate their coverage on
the President, the Ku Klux Klan and NASA programs, the American
media portrayed Germans as "krauts," often referring to Nazi history.
Classen argues that one-sided television reporting of the other side brings
about frustration on both sides. As an example Classen points out that
"Americans have been victims of their belief that West Germany would
continue to be an eternal ally without ever giving up its political loyalty to
the United States."6 Classen argues that the mass media is responsible for
this misconception because the American public has relied too heavily on
scanty journalism. The author points out that the "naive belief in the
existence of harmonious or even friendly and neighborly relations
between Germany and the United States is a dangerous illusion,"7 because
neither of the two countries seems to know the other, as the prevailing
prejudices about each other demonstrate.
Watson argues that the U.S. media presents two separate and
different images of Germany to the American public.8 He distinguishes
between the portrayal of the Bundesrepublik in political reporting and the
6Albrecht Classen, "Image of America/Germany in the Mass Media" In Germany and the United States
Changing Perceptions Danger and Hope, Lore Amlinger ed. (Stuttgart: Akademic Publishing House,
1987), p.161
7Ibid.
8Adam Watson "Germany & The US Media." In Germany and the United States, Changing Perceptions -
Danger and Hope. Lore Amlinger editor (Stuttgart: Akademic Publishing House, 1987)


56
image presented to Americans through television and movies in
nonpolitical stories. The political image of the Bundesrepublik is a
favorable one, according to Watson. The media as well as the population
acknowledged that after World War II Germany became a western ally
with a stable democracy, realized the Americanization of Germany,
admired the Wirtschaftszvunder,9 and saw the Germans as peaceful,
industrious and cooperative partners. Watson also mentions that the
American media image of Germany in the so-called Deutschlandfrage,10 *
and Germany's role in Europe and the world was less favorable. The
media and the population feared, before the breakdown of the Soviet
Union, that West Germany would not be able to resist the wish of East
Germany for closer ties. For Watson this brings up the question of "what
then inhibits the American political media from rejoicing over the
influence of our good ally, in the other part of Germany and in Eastern
Europe generally?"11 First Watson argues that Americans were afraid that
through closer ties between West and East Germany, the country would
become the "main artery [for the] East-West trade and contacts . and that
is seen in this country both as hemorrhage of technology, and a crumbling
of the defense bastion, the 'feste Burg' of America in Europe."12 The
second inhibition of the U.S. media derived from the fear that Germany
would move away from the U.S. toward a nationalist neutralism. Watson
points out that the rise of the Greens, and the opposition to the American
^German for economic miracle
^German: the questions of all the Germans
nIbid., p.128
12Ibid.


57
missiles for which Chancellor Helmut Schmidt had asked, were "used as
color stories for the fear that the 'Bundesrepublik' might give up its
Western and democratic nature and set off on some sinister course of its
own."13
The non-political image of Germany projected by the non-political
side of the media, television and movies is quite contrary to the political
image of Germany. The most striking example of a stereotype is the image
of the "Nazisadistic, racist, semi-literate, militaristic, a regular
'Schweinehund.'"14 Watson argues that this image has even been
transformed into a myth, a picture of evil melodrama in the U.S. media.
The author states that this effect should not be overstated but might
engender some anti-Germanism.
Watson concludes finally that the image of Germany on the whole
was a good and fair image with reservations, reservations especially about
the "Deutschlandfrage" which has always been crucial for reporting about
Germany. In addition, the media still carries stereotypes of Nazi Germany.
Both views, the favorable and the unfavorable, somehow compete in the
American public mind. To which degree this happens is hard to measure.
However, taking this 1987 study by Adam Watson into consideration, it
seems possible that with reunification of Germany the image of Germany
might have changed. Therefore it is important to explore the image of
13Ibid., p. 129
14Ibid.


Germany before and during reunification negotiations and what topics
dominated the coverage about Germany after the reunification.
5.2 The Image of Germany in the Coverage by the Washington Post
From January 1988 to December 1991, the Washington Post Index
listed 1205 entries under the keywords "East Germany," "West Germany,"
"Helmut Kohl," "Hans-Dietrich Genscher," and "German Reunification."
As expected, the German reunification period was an extraordinary media
event. Sixty percent of all the index entries that were examined came from
the period from September 1, 1989 to October 31,1990. The number of
index entries in the period following reunification returned to
approximately the level of the pre-unification period. In first time period,
defined from January 1, 1988 to August 31,1989, 269 entries (22.3% of the
total) were recorded, while in the third time period, from November 1,
1989, to December 31,1991, the sum of coded entries was only 211(17.5%).
Taking into account that the first time period covers a longer time period
than the other two periods, which was done to receive a more accurate
description of the starting point, we can show that the number of index
entries returned after reunification to the level of the pre-reunification
period.
In the time period examined the Washington Post Index registered a
total of 253 articles about East Germany; 343 entries dealt solely with West
Germany and 605 of the 1205 entries included information about both
German states. Naturally for a time comparison of index entries about East


59
or West Germany, only the periods before and during reunification are of
interest. While articles about East Germany were in the minority during
the pre-reunification period with 30 entries (11.2%), compared to the 226
(84%) articles about West Germany, the revolutionary process in the
former GDR boosted the coverage by the Washington Post. With 30.1%,
the reporting about East Germany in 1989/90 even outnumbered articles
dealing with West Germany by 14 points. Index entries about West
Germany represent 16.1% of the 725 items in the reunification period.
However, not surprisingly more than half of the reporting covered
information about both German states, whose relations are barely
described before the reunification possibility emerged.
100%'
80%'
60%'
40%'
2 0 % -
0%--
*>' r V., i
*-
-.Sr'
HI East and West Germany
West Germany
H East Germany
1988/89 1989/90 1990/91 Sum
Figure 5.1: Index entries about East, West or East and West Germany in the
Washington Post Index in the three time periods (in percent).
As another formal aspect, the index entries included the number of
photos published with articles about Germany. The results show that fairly
consistently over the three time periods, one out of three articles was


60
accompanied by a picture. This can be considered a very high rate, since
photos are usually carefully selected by journalists in the editor's office
and therefore are an indicator of the articles' importance. In addition,
photos are recognized as eye-catchers. This increases the chance that the
article is actually read by the audience.
5.2.1 Reported Topics about Germany
After allowing for multiple coding, the 1205 index entries included
2367 topic references about Germany. Therefore, an average of nearly two
topic referrals in every index entry was found. Looking at the total number
of index entries, we can identify the portion representing domestic
German politics with 53.9% as the largest category. This percentage does
not include the 5.1% having Helmut Kohl as a topic because the
Chancellor is mentioned in the context of domestic as well as foreign
policy. German foreign policy and foreign relations delineate 40.4% of all
topic references. However, even more interesting conclusions are revealed
by taking a look at the changes that took place over the three time periods.
The data, illustrated in figure 5.2, suggest that the German reunification
process shifted the coverage in the Washington Post from German foreign
policy to domestic German policies.
While in 1988/89 the domestic to foreign policy relation was 40% to
54% in favor of foreign policy, the relation reversed to 58% to 36% in favor
of domestic events during reunification and maintained this ratio (55% to
36%) even after reunification was complete. One might argue that the


coverage of the uprising in East Germany and the reunification process
naturally favored domestic reporting. However, the fact that in the period
after reunification domestic reporting still clearly dominates over
Germany's foreign policy seems to confirm a general trend towards more
German domestic coverage in the Washington Post. This again leads to
two opposing conclusions. On the one hand, it indicates an increased
interest in domestic German affairs as a consequence of reunification. On
the other hand, the expected increase of the international importance of
the united country, which would be displayed by more German foreign
policy coverage, is not reflected in the Washington Post, or at least not yet
reflected.
1400
1200
1 000
800
600
400
200
0
|S|g|g^SiE H 1990/91 1989/90 1988/89




Kohl
German Foreign Policy
Politics
Figure 5.2: Number of index entries about Kohl, German domestic policy,
or German foreign policy.
With all these observations, we have to keep in mind that the
numbers always, if not mentioned otherwise, represent the relative


importance of a topic in the respective period. In almost all topic
categories, the absolute number of index entries has increased during the
reunification period and decreased after German unity. The use of the
absolute number would not be appropriate because three times as many
entries have been found during the reunification period than in the other
two periods. Therefore, to make the numbers comparable, we always look
on the relative importance of the topic within the relevant time period.
Furthermore, the areas of sports, culture, and society can be neglected in
the following observations because they represent only an insignificant
segment of the coverage of Germany by the Washington Post.
In determing the relation between positive and negative
evaluations of the index entry, the data always contained mainly neutral
evaluations. The percentage of neutrally evaluated index entries was in
most cases in the range of 45%-55%, which indicates a more information-
oriented and less opinion-oriented reporting. However it might be
necessary to examine the full article content to verify this conclusion.
Index entries in their brevity do not allow adequate judgment.
The assumed shift towards more domestic German coverage is
supported by the results in all topic categories where the relative
percentage increased, even only to a small degree, from the first to the
third period. On the other hand, the international categories lost
importance, with the exception of German policy towards the European
Community.


63
5.2.1.1 The Reporting about Domestic German Events
300
250
200
1 50
1 00
50
0
: - t -

l <
%
$

-


B neutral
negative
I positive
Figure 5.3: Number of topic references about German domestic politics.
The coverage of Helmut Kohl as a person, his political performance,
his points of view or missions to foreign countries, grew by 3% over time
to 7.1% in the period after reunification. In all periods, the majority of
index entries dealing with the Chancellor are evaluated positively at
around 40%. However, it must be noted that in the post reunification
period his positive evaluation was at its lowest level with 33.3% (16.7%
negative).
Domestic German politics (here without reunification aspects,
which will be discussed separately) can be seen as partly driven out by the


coverage of reunification events. The coverage of domestic German
politics, including domestic legislation, the reporting about government
decisions, and German party politics, dropped from 6.7% to 3.9% during
reunification. Nevertheless, the data for the final period suggest that this
drop was only a temporary effect, caused by the general focus on
reunification events. With nearly 11%, domestic German politics became
the second highest factor after reunification. Whether or not this
introduces a longer lasting trend to more coverage of German legislation
or domestic German policy has to be tested in further studies.
Probably the most consistently reflected area in the coverage of
Germany in the Washington Post is the field of the economy. This topic
category included, among others, the coverage of German-American or
German-Soviet trade relations, the involvement of German enterprises
delivering parts to built a poison gas factory in Lybia, the economic,
monetary and social union between East and West Germany, economic
growth patterns of the country, legislation concerning the economy, etc.
With 11%, 6.75%, and 12.5% of the index entries in the three periods,
economic issues are one of the, or the most important issues. As in the
field of domestic German politics, articles about the economy lost ground
during reunification and regained ground after. The final high percentage
of 12.5 is even more impressive if we take into consideration that a large
part in the previous periods dealt not with the German economy itself but
with the controversy about the participation of German enterprises in
delivering parts for the chemical poison gas factory to be built in Libya a


big story for the American media which explains the high percentage of
52.6% of negative evaluations during 1988 and 1989. The general
importance of economic coverage overall certainly has various
explanations. First, the U.S. and Germany have intensive bilateral
economic relations. Second, the export oriented German economy
depends to a high degree of the American market. Third, in many
economic areas the two countries compete against each other. Fourth,
many reunification questions have been economic questions, for example,
the common German currency and the privatization of the East German
enterprises. Many of these primarily domestic economic problems have
somehow also affected the international economic situation and have
therefore been of great interest also to the American media. Finally, the
numbers also reflect a common anxiety, the birth of a new economic
superpower: Germany. This fear is visible in all examined periods and is
reflected in a more negative than positive coverage of the German
economy. Overall, the coding revealed a rating of 33.5% negatively
evaluated index entries compared to only 20.4% positive evaluation of
index entries dealing with the German economy. Forty six percent of the
index entries dealing with the economy are evaluated neutral.
Another interesting area in the group of domestic topics about
Germany in the Washington Post is the area of Nazi history, Nazi crimes
and a new right-wing movement in Germany. To avoid
misunderstanding, the coding procedure included in this category actual
Nazi crimes as well as government or police actions against it. Therefore, a


positive evaluation of Nazi crimes does not applaud a committed crime
but might be, for example, a legislative initiative to prevent such crimes.
The whole area made up 3.21% of all index entries which is unexpectedly
low. It is even more surprising that Nazi history and right-wing
development plays only an insignificant role during the actual
reunification process (1.9%), in which an increased interest by the
American media in this field was assumed by the author. Nevertheless,
the data showed that the relative percentage of index entries dealing with
Nazi crimes and the right-wing movement increased dramatically from
1.9% during reunification to 7% in the post reunification period. It must,
therefore, be concluded that the American media was not generally
concerned about a growing radical development in Germany, but that the
extremist acts, starting after reunification, brought the media attention
back to the issue. It is no surprise that this topic category is constantly
evaluated negatively in the majority. In fact, the categories Nazi-crimes
and right-wing development received the highest percentage of negative
evaluations in the range from 64.7% up to 75%. In sum, we can conclude
that Germany's Nazi history is still of concern to the American media and
Americans. The topic also will be kept alive by the media through the
reporting of crimes, historic reviews or anniversary reminders. The
observed trend of an increasing importance of this issue, starting after
reunification, is confirmed by a study conducted by the Gallup Institute
together with the Institute for Social Research on instruction for the Press


and Information Office of the Federal German Government (BPA15). The
study included a national survey as well as a content analysis of coverage
of Germany by 26 American newspapers and TV news in the time from
March 1992 until 1993.16 The final report states that "stories dealing with
extremism in Germany, excesses against foreigners, attempts by
incendiaries, and neo-nazistic activities dominated the coverage of the
[American] newspapers in the examined time period."17 The result that in
the periods after reunification the issue even dominated the reporting
while our examination showed compared to that only 7%, has presumably
various explanations. The study of the Gallup Institute included in their
analysis also more popular newspapers as well as TV news. In both cases
we can assume that the issue of Nazi crimes receives generally higher
attention than in the Washington Post. Therefore the aspects of Nazi
Germany appears more powerful in the analysis of the Gallup Institute
than in our study of the Washington Post coverage. Nevertheless, the
trend seems to be obvious: Extremism in Germany received extraordinary
attention in the American media after German reunification was
completed.
The most considered topic about Germany in the three years
examined is certainly the German reunification process which represents
19% of the coverage in the Washington Post after the possibility of a
^Initials for Bundespresseamt
^Bundespresseamt, Das Deutschlandbild In Den USA Das Amerikabild In Deutschland. [The Image of
Germany m the United States The Image of the United States in Germany] (Bonn: Bundespresseamt,
1993), translation by the author
17Ibid., p.5


united Germany emerged, 23% during, and still 5.4% after the legal
reunification. Fifteen percent of these index entries dealt with internal and
7.7% with external or international aspects of reunification. The internal
aspects, including reunification negotiations between East and West
Germany, necessary legislation, the peoples' demonstration for or against
reunification, were coded 32.6% positively, 17.4% negatively and 50% of
the index entries appeared neutrally. However, a variation in this overall
result was recorded in the after reunification period, where positive and
negative evaluations were tied to 22.7%. It seems feasible to conclude that
the American media followed a trend discovered also in domestic German
opinions polls: an increasingly critical evaluation of the reunification
process after the initial euphoria about the achievement. In addition,
social and economic problems became visible, the Kohl government
miscalculated the costs for reunification, and the people felt betrayed by tax
increases which they had been promised would not happen.
5.2.1.2 Reporting of German Foreign Policy
The international aspects of reunification, which were calculated
earlier in this chapter in the category of German foreign policy, made up
7.7% of the coverage in 1989/90 representing the second-most-often
discussed topics in the Washington Post right after internal reunification
issues. In this category, all events dealing with negotiations, statements,
policies, and international diplomacy to achieve international acceptance
of German reunification were registered. Under international aspects of


reunification, the coding also included the new security questions in a
Europe with a united Germany, negotiations about the remaining of
Germany in NATO, and discussions about the Polish border issue. Since
the negotiations on the international level were completed before official
reunification, 98% of the index entries related to this topic can be found in
the reunification period, unlike internal questions which continued to be
an important part of the coverage after October 3, 1990. We can point out
that the diplomatic process, leading to an international acceptance of
reunification, is seen 40% positively and only 11% negatively. These
results mirror the widespread international acceptance of reunification,
even though the negotiations in the 2+4 round and other participating
countries had to solve many problems with regard to a new European
security system.
As figure 5.4 below illustrates, next to international questions of the
German reunification, the following topics, describing Germany's
international relations, have been of importance in the coverage by the
Washington Post: German foreign policy towards the United States, the
German-Soviet Union relations, and the area of the German Bundeswehr,
NATO, or military questions in general.


70
ir i
i i i
I R H H

El neutral
Q negative
positive
< D 6 2 to - u cd 0
CD CD D u 3 <: H <
as > W > G o M-t 3 z
U u
HI
Figure 5.4: Number of topic references about German foreign policy.
Interestingly Washington Post articles gave Germany's relations
with the Soviet Union (7.4%) nearly as much attention as to Germany's
relations with the U.S. (7.9%). However, the evaluation of the relationship
with the two superpowers in the three time periods is different. While
Germany's relations with the Soviet Union are seen positively in all
periods (to an average of 32% compared to 9% negative evaluations),
Germany's relationship with the U.S. features shifts in the evaluation.
Looking at the majorities in the positive negative relation, the data
reveals a shift from a negative majority in 1988/89 (25% positive to 34.3%


negative), to positive during reunification (44.3% positive to 12.5%
negative), and back to more negative in 1990/91 (16.7% positive to 33.3%
negative). The more negative coverage in the first period can be explained
with Kohl's persistent and internationally highly criticized refusal to
modernize American atomic weapons stationed in Germany.18 The strong
positive bias during the second period certainly has its roots in the general
American support for the reunification of the two Germanys. The
majority of negative evaluations in the third period is to a large degree the
result of the hesitant and indecisive position of Germany during the Gulf
War. In sum, it seems difficult to draw general conclusions out of these
shifting evaluations. More likely, the data suggest that the coverage of
German-American relations does not reflect special favorable or
unfavorable moods existing in the U.S. towards Germany, but rather
depends on the daily political issues that are discussed and have to be
solved.
The military complex, including issues concerning the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the German Bundeswehr and
military questions in general, has been detected as another consistent
weighty aspect in the coverage about Germany with a total of 7.2% of all
entries. However, stories on military issues declined in numbers over
18Since 1987, NATO had been considering ways to bolster its nuclear deterrent to make up for the U.S.
missiles that were to be removed from Europe under the INF treaty. Among the most debated options was
modernizing the aging U.S. made Lance tactical missiles based in West Germany. Under a previous NATO
plan, the Lances were not to have been upgraded, or replaced, until 1995. But the INF treaty prompted
NATO planners to study a possible faster modernization. German Chancellor Kohl opposed an earlier
modernization, with regard to reelection concerns as well as urging from East Germany and the Soviet
Union. Kohl's government was under pressure by the U.S. and Great Britain. Especially the British Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher attacked kohl's delaying position.


72
time. Probably as a result of declining East-West tensions, the coding
revealed a decrease from 14% in 1988/89 to 5.6% during reunification and
4.2% in the third period. While the number of index entries decreased, the
positive evaluation of this topic increased to 44.4% in the final period.
This result can also be seen as confirmation of a trend observed by the
Gallup Institute, namely that Germany is presently an accepted and
reliable partner in the military alliance.
As we pointed out earlier, index entries relating to Germany's
relations with the European Community (EC) were the only international
topic category Which gained in importance from before reunification until
after its completion. Nearly 4% of the index entries in the final period
were recorded in this category. The findings led to the conclusion that the
German promise to fulfill Germany's unity within a united Europe also
gives the EC greater coverage. The evaluation of Germany's relations with
the EC is seen before and during the reunification period rather negative
than positive. We can assume that this rather negative result stems first
from general concerns about a reunified Germany and second because the
German government gave naturally higher priority to a unification of
Germany than to a unification of Europe. It is, however, interesting to see
that the Washington Post coverage focuses, when reporting about
Germany and the EC, on the European community as a political or
strategic alliance rather than on its economic functions.
At the center of newspaper articles about German foreign policy in
the Eastern world stand two mainstream issues which also polarize the


evaluation in this classification. On the one side, the Post covered in many
articles the diplomatic efforts of the German government to solve the East
German refugee problem with Hungary and Czechoslovakia. This area is
evaluated to a high degree positively. On the other side stands the
persistent discussion about the Polish border which clearly was seen as
negative in the index entries.
5.2.2 The Carrier of News about Germany
Who is responsible for the news about Germany which circulates in
the American media? Whose actions, policies or statements in or about
Germany are considered newsworthy by American journalists? These are
the questions addressed in this part of the study. We defined those
individuals, groups or organizations, whose action actually initiated the
reporting about Germany as "carrier of the news."
To record the various carriers of news, the coding procedure
distinguishes carriers in basically three categories: domestic German
carriers, international carriers, and journalists. Based on the number of
index entries a total amount of 1205 carriers have been registered. The
overall findings, presented in figure 5.5, show fairly consistent patterns
over the three defined time periods: First, domestic German sources
served in one out of two cases as the carrier of the information. Second,
international messengers initiated the reporting within a range from
12.3% in the period before and after, and 18.6% during reunification.
Finally, reporters caused an average of about 15% of the news about


Germany. Journalists had their highest ratings during the reunification
period with 17.5% the time when there was certainly the highest need to
comment and judge events. As mentioned earlier, these number did not
change over time and therefore no effects from the reunification have
been found.
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
1990/91
1989/90
1988/89
Domestic International Journalists Others
Carriers Carriers
Figure 5.5: Carrier of news about Germany in the three time periods.
In evaluating news, domestic and international carriers tend to
present information about Germany in the Washington Post more
positively (34%) than negatively (20%) in contributing to the picture of
Germany, with a highly consistent percentage of nearly 50% of neutral
evaluations over all three time periods. However, after reunification was
completed the positive to negative relation in the category of international
carriers was reversed. While in this final period 23.1% of the entries are
now evaluated negatively; only 15.4% have a positive orientation.


Observing the evaluations made by journalists, we have to consider that
65% of the entries evaluated by journalists were coded neutral. In the
remaining 35% of the entries, where journalists took a clear stand, their
evaluation was 24.7% negative and 10% positive. With only a few
exceptions and little variation this overall trend stays constant in all
examined periods. To mention only the most significant variation,
journalists evaluated even more cases neutrally (70%) and slightly more
critically during reunification. This is significant because, as mentioned
earlier, the percentage in this period is based on almost three times as
many index entries as in the other two periods and, therefore, is of higher
importance. The findings confirm the outstanding position of journalists
in shaping a foreign country's image. Of all 1205 index entries about East
and West Germany, 190 (15.7%) have been evaluated by journalists, which
is the highest percentage by a single carrier. In the following, the
observations will focus in more detail on the results from domestic and
international carriers of news about Germany.
Based on the findings we can set up the following ranking from
important to less important in carrying news about Germany (see figure
5.6): Journalists, Helmut Kohl, East German politicians, government
officials, foreign politicians, U.S. politicians, the German people,
representatives from German organizations, politicians of the SPD,
ministers, CDU representatives, the 2+4 round, and the German
parliament.


250
neutral
Figure 5.6: Number of index entry related to the carrier of news about
Germany.
The findings indicate that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
represents the second most important carrier of news about Germany. A
number of 132 entries (11%) are caused by statements, positions and
policies of Kohl. In addition, 50% of the entries related to the Chancellor
are positive compared to 17.4% of the entries that are evaluated as
negative. Kohl's outstanding position as carrier of the news about
Germany becomes even more impressive if we consider two aspects of the


German political system: First, the Chancellor selects his government and
presides over it. As head of the government, the Chancellor exercises,
following the German Grundgesetz,19 a so called Richtlinienkompetenz,20
over his ministers. That means that ministers exercise their influence
within the boundaries set by the Chancellor. Therefore, a policy promoted
by the ministers reflects to a high degree the agenda of the Chancellor.
Second, government officials naturally represent the government or the
Chancellor's standpoints, his views and policy. In our study, an average of
10% of the index entries in all periods refer to government officials as
sources of information. This, however, does not indicate a policy making
role of government officials and their reflections in the American media,
but rather reflects the procedure of how journalists procure their
information. In cases where journalists refer to government sources, the
Chancellor or the responsible minister is not available for the journalists'
questions, and government officials take their place. Information released
by government officials usually is reconfirmed with the Chancellor or a
relevant minister. Keeping these two considerations in mind allows us to
place ministers and government officials as carrier of news into the
category of the Kohl government. In sum, Kohl, government officials and
ministers represent together 23.1% of the news in the Washington Post.
Our hypothesis that Helmut Kohl is the main carrier of news about
Germany is therefore confirmed for our study. This is not only obvious in
^German: basic law
^German: guiding competence


the overall result but also in the outcomes of the three time periods.
Helmut Kohl and the Kohl government represent 33.5%, 21.2%, and 33.2%
the carrier of the news in the three defined time periods from 1988 to 1991.
How the sharp drop to 21.2% during the reunification period can be
explained, is discussed later in the context of the carrier/topic relation. All
together, we can therefore first conclude that Kohl and his policy and his
presentation have a vital impact on the image of Germany in the
American media because journalists refer to a high degree to Kohl in
describing Germany. This also confirms our theoretical assumption that
Chancellor Kohl has an important agenda setting role and that he can be
considered as an opinion leader about Germany in the Washington Post.
Second, since the overwhelming majority of entries related to Kohl are
seen as positive, we can reach the conclusion that the resulting
presentation of Germany also receives a positive tendency.
East German politicians, as the counterpart to the Kohl government
in the reunification diplomacy, played a considerably high role as a carrier
of news about Germany with an overall of 10.1%. During reunification
they even have the second largest portion with 13.7%, second only to
journalists. This was not necessarily to be expected, taking the Western
bias of the American media into account. However, after the idea of
German unity started to spread through out by demonstrations and
changes in East Germany and reunification diplomacy took place mainly
between representatives of the two Germanys, the internal process of
reunification certainly boosted the importance of East German carriers.


79
Considering the problems of changing the socialistic East German system
and economy into a Western model, East German politicians were still
cited as carrier of the news (to 3.8%) even after the country was officially
reunited.
Another important carrier of the news about Germany in the time
periods examined are politicians of the opposition, namely of the Social
Democratic Party. However, the opposition's importance as a carrier seems
to be restricted to the reunification period when the SPD reached with
3.7% their highest rating. In addition, the index entries pointing to the
SPD as a carrier are evaluated overwhelmingly critically (35% negative,
15% positive). These two factors, the restricted appearance of the
opposition during reunification and the negative evaluation, suggest that
the Washington Post coverage cites the opposition to presenting opposing
views to those of the government. We also may conclude that the German
opposition gains then importance in the foreign media, when the actual
issue is both highly discussed and of international relevance, just like
reunification. The same trend can be assumed for the German people as
carrier of the news. Reunification boosted the role of the people to 10.1%
compared to only 1.5% before and 5.2% after reunification. Therefore, the
German people's role might be generally restricted to extraordinary,
presumably domestic events with international relevance, however to a
lesser degree than the Social Democrats, who are steadily organized and
consequently have the advantage to react and comment more easily and
faster on actual events and government action.


Among the group of international carriers, representing 15.7% of all
carriers, U.S. politicians make up approximately half with 7.7%. Other
foreign politicians, representing 8% of the carriers, contribute to the
overall image of Germany to nearly the same degree positive (26.8%) and
negative (24.7%) evaluations. Since the balance during reunification is
exactly 25% negative and 25% positive, the Washington Post seems to
have found a good middle ground in presenting the pro and con positions
made by various politicians of various countries Nevertheless, a general
trend to this well-balanced representation of an issue also depends on the
issue as the data in the other two time periods shows. In 1988/89 the group
of foreign politicians evaluated the image of Germany overwhelmingly
with 42.9% positive while U.S. politicians had with 40.7% a majority in
negative evaluations.
5.2.3 The Topic-Carrier Relationship
After investigating the carrier of news about Germany, we will now
examine further how the various carriers can be related to the topic that
has been reported. As figure 5.7 shows, it seems to be no surprise that
using the overall numbers as a basis, domestic sources dominate domestic
German topics, and international and domestic German carriers share
German foreign policy reporting. We also detected that journalists can be
related more strongly to domestic topics with 63.1% than to foreign policy
issues with 34.2%. This rather unusual result might be the consequence of


the presence of foreign correspondents in Germany, who give a high
priority to domestic events.
35
30
25
20
1 5
1 0
5
0
Figure 5.7: The carrier/topic relation in percentages.
We will now examine which carriers dominated in the two topic
categories beginning with domestic German policy. In essence, only a few
carriers play a consistently substantial role in bringing domestic German
politics into the American media: Helmut Kohl and the Kohl government
to 23.5%, U.S. as well as other foreign politicians to 10.8%, whereby U.S.
politicians in all periods represent about half of this percentage, and
journalists to 16.2%. All other carriers appear only occasionally in the
&
o
U
S>
o
u
CO ' 03 CO 03
s e - e ,J
.2 ,S 6.S
g CD G -s 3 2
N P +2 £ .t5 C
g o^o 5
a ^ ph -


coverage of domestic politics, depending on the actual range of discussed
issues.
In 1988/89, next to the 26% carried by Kohl, 6.6% by foreign
politicians, and 13.3% by journalists, we can identify as the only other
significant carriers only representatives mainly of the economy (7.5%). In
the reunification period however, various shifts can be observed between
the importance of the three main carriers. First, along with an increased
coverage of domestic German affairs, journalists expanded their role as
carrier by nearly 5% to now 17.8%. Second, the internal reunification
process interestingly doubled the importance of foreign politicians (now
12.3%) and reduced the relative importance of Kohl and the Kohl
government to 21%. This result supports the earlier finding of what we
described as a internationalization of reunification. Finally, as previously
mentioned, the single issue reunification, boosted carriers who in general
play a rather unimportant role as carrier. In the case of reunification, it
was the Social Democrats and the people whose importance as carrier
increased in this period. In the period after reunification we can observe a
reverse of the internationalization effect of German domestic German
politics, where Kohl and his government stands out as carrier in nearly
30% of the entries. Journalists returned to a percentage of 13% and so did
the relative importance of foreign politicians (8.8%). As mentioned earlier
we see that even though reunification was still a discussed topic after
October 1990, the percentage of those carriers relevant during reunification
returned to a nearly insignificant percentage.


The findings in the carrier-topic relationship with regard to German
foreign policy also reveal an even greater concentration on Kohl (30.3%),
U.S. politicians (16.6%) and other foreign politicians (14.6%), and
journalists (10.5%). These participants are mentioned in 72% of all foreign
policy cases as the carrier of the news about Germany. The remaining 28%
are split into insignificant parts of all the other carriers. Relevant shifts
among the three defined time periods therefore apply solely to variations
in the importance among Kohl, foreign politicians, and journalists. In
1988/89, the index entries relate German foreign policy with nearly 40% to
either Helmut Kohl or to his government. In this period journalists and
U.S. politicians stayed within their overall range and foreign politicians
had in this period their lowest rating with 6.03%. The coding outcome
after reunification clearly mirrors these results of the pre-reunification
period. During reunification, however, the results revealed a completely
reversed situation. The relative importance of Kohl as carrier of foreign
policy dropped by half to 21.2%. On the other hand, the importance of
foreign politicians increased to almost the same amount of 41.3%. This
dramatic shift once again underscores the effect of the reunification. The
unity of Germany very soon turned into an international question, a
question discussed as much by American politicians (19.2%) as by other
foreign politicians.
All together, in their reporting about Germany from 1988 to 1991 the
Washington Post covered a broad range of topics. The emphasis has clearly


84
been on political reporting. As figure 5.8 illustrates, we can identify several
areas of major interest about Germany: the economy, military questions,
German domestic politics, Helmut Kohl, and American-German as well as
Soviet-German relations. These topic categories have been identified to be
consistently of major importance in all three defined time periods.
If the American public's political image of Germany was based of
the reported topics in the Washington Post, Germany would be perceived
mainly in the context of the economy, the military, and in relation to the
US as well as in relation to the Eastern World. In addition, the American
public would think of German domestic and foreign politics in terms of
Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The reporting in the Washington Post went
beyond coverage of the direct relationship between Germany and the US.
The Washington Post coverage, therefore, reveals a genuine interest in
German domestic and foreign policy matters. Nevertheless, German
domestic and foreign policy has naturally been evaluated in the context of
American interests.
In only a few topical areas is the study able to draw conclusions
about trends, concerning media coverage in the future. Reunification has
certainly fortified the interest of the American media in the German
economy. It also can be observed that the importance of Germany's
relation to NATO in terms of press coverage has decreased over time. It
can, however, be assumed that military issues will remain an important
part of the coverage, if not about NATO then about the participation of
Germany in missions of the UN or the fulfillment of other military


missions in which a united and sovereign Germany is now expected to
take part.
Relations with
other
Countries
Soviet Union
MATO Others Kohl
Domestic
Politics
USA
Economy
Reunification:
internal
Figure 5.8: Topics assembling the image of Germany in the Washington
Post after legal reunification.
Furthermore, the study found that Nazi history, Nazi crimes and
right-wing movements in Germany were part of the coverage over all
three periods. However, a general concern and the related fear of the
rebirth of a militant Germany could not be verified in the study, not even
during reunification. Rather the topic was placed on the media agenda by
particular incidents after reunification. As our figures, as well as the
secondary data showed, this part of the coverage gained increasing
importance after the official reunification.


86
If we take the overall results of the topic evaluation as a basis for a
general positive or negative image of Germany in the Washington Post
coverage, the data show that the coverage presents a critical, but overall
positive picture. Critical because 20.5% of all index entries have been coded
negatively and overall positive, because 28% of the entries have been
evaluated positively. In 50% of the index entries examined the evaluation
had no specific positive or negative implications.


CHAPTER 6
THE MEDIA IMAGE OF CHANCELLOR HELMUT KOHL
On October 1, 1982, the German Bundestag elected Helmut Kohl
Federal Chancellor. For over a decade now Kohl has directed, as head of
the government, German domestic and foreign policy. Kohl as a politician
is more associated with pursuing a conservative domestic and economic
policy; he can be considered friendly to America; Kohl advanced a united
Europe and is probably most known as the Chancellor who reunited East
and West Germany. However, this study goes beyond pure political action.
We investigate Kohl's personal attributes, his strengths and weaknesses
and how they are presented in the Washington Post. The analysis is
conducted in two steps. First, the study summarizes the existing literature
about the media image of Kohl. In the second step, we present our
findings of the content analysis about the image of Helmut Kohl in the
Washington Post.
6.1 The Media Image of Helmut Kohl Secondary Data
Before examining the image of Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the
American media, the study first summarizes the results of an analysis of a
similar topic, focusing instead on Kohl's image in the German media. In
their study Medientenor und Bevolkerungsmeinung eine empirische
Studie zum Image Helmut Kohls1 the authors Hans Mathias Kepplinger,
^Hans Mathias Kepplinger, Wolfgang Donsbach, Hans-Bemd Brosius and Joachim F. Staab,
"Medientenor und BevolKerungsmeinung eine empirische Studie zum Image Helmut Kohls, [Media Tone