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Aggressiveness/Toughness

The absence of aggressiveness is what one tabloid reporter referred to as not going “to the place that was most uncomfortable for you and ... [to] hold your punches” (Interview, LCA reporter, April 15, 2010). He mentioned the New York Times Albany bureau’s stories in early 2010 about misconduct by Governor David Paterson as recent examples. The lack of aggressiveness, to him, was confirmed by the fact that the rest of the press corps did not feel compelled to follow up on most of those stories. One reporter, who distinguished himself by a constant ironic (but not cynical) distance to his reporting subjects, described a press corps-specific problem of exhibiting too much empathy for politicians. As a consequence, “the inclination to hurt them decreases” and is replaced by a tendency of “fabric softening” (Interview, LP reporter, November 24, 2011).

Being thick-skinned and not afraid of pushback appeared as basic requirements to be an effective political reporter in both cases. German reporter, however, were typically more restrained and less blunt than US reporters and did not use terms equivalent to “aggressive” or “tough” to describe associated ideals.

 
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