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Relationship of the Press and the Government in the German Democratic Republic

Hayes, Stacie

This analysis of the press was written with the purpose of understanding the relationship of the East German press to the government during three phases: a Communist phase, an Interim phase, and a Post-Unification phase. The Communist phase discusses the time period of the 1980's until the downfall of the Communist government in 1989. The Interim Phase discusses the time period between 1989 until reunification with the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990. The Post-Unification phase discusses developments from that time until the present. This final phase is induded, even though the press in that area is no longer officially East German, as a contrast and an example, of change from the other two periods. This study relies on theoretical concepts of the press/government relationship, background information on press and government action during three periods, and examples of press releases and newspapers from each period. Television and radio broadcasts were not included because they are difficult to obtain, especially from the Communist period. I found empirical data measuring the relationship of the government to the press hard to find. From the theoretical concepts and examples from the press I found that the capacity of the press under different types of government varied. I did not, however, find empirical data to prove that the press does influence the government and to what exact degree. Nevertheless, I concluded that if one assumes the press has an influence over the government, one should also assume this influence varies in strength depending on government type in a nation.