How do journalists view the world? A comparative empirical analysis of personality traits and political views, based on the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)

By Katja Schmidt, Tanjev Schultz, and Gert G. Wagner | How different are the characteristics and views of journalists from those of the population on which they report? What are the predominant political opinions among these professionals? Which political features do they share? Which personality traits, such as a willingness to take risks, do they display? In this paper, we examine these questions based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), using this large representative sample to identify the journalists it contains based on the information they provide on their work (while still preserving their anonymity). Multivariate analyses allow these data to be compared with data for the adult population as a whole, the electorate, and the group of people intensively engaged in politics. The results corroborate earlier studies that show that journalists do not reflect the population; their characteristics and views only match the diversity of society to a certain extent.