Monopolizing the Democratic Dream: The Struggle Over a Free Press in East Germany 1989/1990

Mandy Tröger


This study provides a historical analysis of the (postsocialist) transition of the East German press system from November 1989 until German unification in October 1990 and thereafter. Based on extensive archival research, it shows how West German political and economic groups shaped its transition and how they, by building market structures to their interest, hampered a profound democratic press reform. Looking at sales, ownership, and distribution infrastructures, this study reveals how West German newspaper publishers, backed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, expanded into East Germany in all three sectors at the cost of a blossoming local press. The study, thus, fills a gap in research and literature, and helps us understand the conditions within which media systems develop in transitioning countries. It also gives insights into how economic groups might still aim to influence policy-making in modern Western democracies.


Germany, press history, postsocialist media transition, critical political economy

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