While investigative journalism has a long tradition in the USA and has an important professional role model function, it is rather poorly developed in Germany. A bundle of structural causes is responsible for this: At the level of political culture, American “investigative reporting” benefits from the general skepticism towards central government and from preliminary research by numerous “government watchdog organizations”.
The interaction of commercial media organizations and nonprofits can partly compensate for the economic disadvantage of expensive research journalism. From a legal point of view, US journalism can rely on very far-reaching rights to obtain information from state institutions. In the Federal Republic, on the other hand, the authoritarian state legacy of “official secrecy” continues to have an effect, with weaker transparency obligations from politics and administration. On the professional level, investigative journalism benefits from the pragmatic attitude of the Americans to understand research as a learnable craft that is trained in a very practical academic journalism training. Research in Germany, on the other hand, has long been understood as a question of talent and has been treated as secondary compared to opinion journalism.