Press pass

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Press card 2018 front
Uniform federal press pass from DJV , dju , BDZV , VDS , VDZ and freelens for 2018. The field at the top left contains a picture of the owner.
Back of the federal press pass

A press card serves as proof of full-time or part-time journalistic activity vis-à-vis third parties and is therefore primarily a work tool that is intended to facilitate journalistic research .


The press card usually contains the name, address and photo of the card holder. The exhibiting organization confirms that it is working as a journalist . Most press cards are made of plastic, are in credit card format and are usually issued for one year.

There is no statutory regulation on the issue of press cards in Germany, as this would restrict the freedom of the press guaranteed in the Basic Law . Press cards are issued by numerous organizations and editorial offices that use different criteria for the award. While some associations only issue IDs to documented full-time journalists, others also issue them to part-time journalists. In addition, there are organizations that, for a fee, issue press cards to people who cannot prove any professional activity as a journalist or who are satisfied with a confirmation signed by the applicant that he works as a journalist without requiring further evidence.

Members of the journalists' associations are usually issued free of charge, otherwise there is usually an annual fee for non-members, which is calculated differently depending on the association.

ID cards in Germany

1950 to 2008

Since 1950 there was an agreement between the Conference of Interior Ministers and the journalists 'unions and the publishers' associations, which regulated the issue of what was then known as a “national press pass”. This ID should be accepted by the authorities and was therefore referred to as an “officially recognized” press ID. This agreement, which was intended to "make it easier for the authorities to check who is acting as a representative / in the press", only allowed the following associations to issue the "national press card":

In autumn 2004, the Düsseldorf Administrative Court ruled after a lawsuit by Freelens e. V. states that this association is also authorized to issue the “national press ID”. On May 5, 2006, the German interior ministers decided to keep “the requirement of the main occupation” as the “model” in the future. From the point of view of the authorities, however, it is “appropriate” to also grant the ID to journalists who “are not full-time, but are regularly and permanently active in journalism in terms of quantity and quality”. At the same time it was stipulated that the issue of press cards should not be "the main purpose of the association".

The German interior ministers did not initially make a final agreement on the future regulation of the issuing of press cards and the associations authorized to do so. The German Association of Trade Journalists (DFJV), the DPV German Press Association, the Federal Association of Professional Image Providers (BVPA, then still known as the Federal Association of Press Image Agencies and Image Archives ), the Association of German Local Newspapers (VDL ), the Association of German Sport Journalists (VDS), the German Media Association and the Documentary Film Working Group (AG DOK). Since no agreement could be reached between the candidates and the four old associations, the Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK) decided on December 7th, 2007 that from 2009 press cards may no longer have the authorization of the interior ministers on the back. Until then, the IMK request was noted there to support the card holder in his work. Since 2009 the wording has been: "Institutions and companies are asked to give the representatives of the press the information they need to fulfill their public task."

2009 to 2017

The associations originally involved then continued to use the “nationwide press pass” until the end of 2014, together with two new ones - VDS and Freelens. However, Freelens was no longer involved in this network from 2015 onwards, as "six smaller media associations" had merged to form a second network: Freelens, the documentary film working group , the federal directing association , the federal association of professional image providers, the association of motor journalists and freelance writers , an association freelance journalist.

In addition, numerous other organizations issued differently designed ID cards according to their own criteria, some coupled with membership packages such as legal protection or the purchase of a journalistic specialist magazine .

In the coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU and SPD for the 18th legislative period (from autumn 2013) it was stated: “Media responsible for journalistic and editorial purposes are of central importance for democracy, freedom of information and the formation of opinion, regardless of technological dissemination. The coalition supports an initiative by the federal states to reintroduce the 'official press pass'. "

After the abolition of the national press card and the delay in the initiative of the federal states to reintroduce it, more and more commercial providers appeared and issued press cards for their customers for prices between 44 and 127 euros, even if they were not doing any journalistic work. ID cards of this type were z. B. increasingly used during demonstrations to overcome police barriers and to approach political opponents or to obtain discounts at events. These are three companies called General News Service (GNS), Reichstein Research Group and the German Association of Press Journalists (DVPJ). Rudolf Walter is responsible for all three companies.

Since 2018

In November 2016, the German Press Council and the Conference of Interior Ministers (IMK) agreed to issue nationwide press cards again from 2018. A four-person “standing commission”, which was made up of equal numbers of representatives from the press council and the IMK, had to decide which professional associations were allowed to issue a card. Only large associations that have at least 1,000 members, have been in existence for more than five years and which undertake to issue ID cards only to full-time journalists would be considered. The aim is to improve access to information for full-time journalists. Patrick Breyer from the Pirate Party, on the other hand, had already pointed out as a precaution when the new regulation became known in 2016 that many journalists and bloggers could only pursue their work as a secondary activity; if they were disadvantaged in the new award procedure, there would be a “sensitive restriction of freedom of the press”. It must therefore be clarified how these affected people would be treated in the future.

As a result, the rules that existed until 2008 were restored: the German Association of Journalists (DJV), the dju union in ver.di, the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), the Association of German Magazine Publishers ( VDZ), the Association of German Sport Journalists (VDS) and the Freelens Photographers Association for full-time workers. The ID can be recognized by the logo of the press council and the signature of the chairman of the conference of interior ministers on the back.

Youth press card

For young media makers up to the age of 27 who do not work full-time on youth media, the regional associations of youth press Germany e. V. and the Junge Presse Nordrhein-Westfalen e. V. issued a youth press card coordinated with DJV and dju, which is therefore also recognized nationwide.

Editorial badges

Numerous media companies issue their own ID cards for their employees. These serve on the one hand as a house ID, on the other hand legitimize the owner to third parties as a member of the corresponding editorial team . In the case of well-known media, this ID is more important than the press ID.


The recognition of press cards by companies and organizers varies greatly and mostly depends on the reputation of the issuing organization.

The press cards of the six older associations DJV , dju , VDZ , BDZV plus Freelens and VDS are still generally accepted by German trade fair organizers , as the applicant must provide them with written proof of full-time journalistic activity , as was the case between 1993 and 2007 was specified by the Conference of Interior Ministers and has been back since 2018. ID cards from other associations, some of which expressly advertise the issue of their ID cards to everyone, are sometimes more, sometimes less accepted. In any case, the possession of a press pass is becoming increasingly unimportant; proper prior accreditation is mandatory for many events and is independent of the ID.


In daily journalistic practice, the press card is less important than is often assumed. In order to be supported by companies, institutions or other organizers in their research, it is more important for which medium a journalist works or that he is properly accredited. However, the press pass is of a certain importance when journalists appear to the authorities . According to the German state press laws , which are essentially very similar, authorities and public institutions are obliged to provide press representatives with information if there are not really serious reasons to the contrary. According to Section 6 (2) of the General Assembly Act , journalists are also to be granted access to public meetings in closed rooms upon presentation of their press ID.

Press pass and journalist discount

For many journalists, having a press card has another aspect: On presentation of the official press card, you receive so-called journalist discounts or press conditions. Numerous companies grant special conditions for journalists, perks and discounts on goods and services. Journalist discounts are controversial within the profession because they could shape journalistic reporting as a possible form of taking advantage or bribery .

Auto press sign

Auto press sign

Many organizations that issue press cards also sell a press sign that can be placed in the car. This sign can be useful in individual cases, e.g. to be recognizable as a press representative in large numbers of vehicles, but has no function in the legal sense. In particular, it does not entitle you to violate the road traffic regulations or other legal regulations. At the larger German trade fairs, there is usually a separate allotment of parking spaces as a service that is specially reserved for press representatives.

Web links

Wiktionary: Press card  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Commentary e.g. B .: Helmuth Jipp: The monopoly has fallen. Via the so-called national press card, real non-existent regulations and protected benefices. In: Berlin journalists. No. 4, 2005, p. 68; Alexander von Streit: press cards. In: MediumMagazin. No. 10/2005; and the press pass monopoly is crumbling. On: from August 15, 2005
  2. Uniform press pass in danger. ( Memento from August 29, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) On:
  3. Official press card will be abolished. ( Memento from August 29, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Mittweida University, Faculty of Media.
  4. ^ German Association of Journalists e. V., December 7, 2007 ( Memento of October 8, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Confusion on the demo grid. In: Die Tageszeitung from November 14, 2014, p. 17
  6. ^ Coalition agreement between CDU, CSU and SPD for the 18th legislative period. (PDF)
  7. Stefan Laurin: Extremists with press cards are a problem. In: Die Welt from March 3, 2016
  8. Henrik Merker: Fraud with the journalist ID. A German network sells false press documents. Fraudsters and right-wing extremists benefit from it. The scam is legal, but endangers democracy. In: Zeit Online. Zeit Online GmbH, February 12, 2019, accessed on February 9, 2019 .
  9. Christian Rath: New press card from 2018: Mainly full-time . In: the daily newspaper . ( [accessed December 4, 2016]).
  10. Press pass - “We expect access to be made easier” . In: Deutschlandfunk . January 2, 2017 ( [accessed January 2, 2018]).
  11. German Press Council and IMK decide to reintroduce the nationwide press card. In: meedia. November 30, 2016, accessed November 30, 2016 .
  12. From 2018: new nationwide press ID. On: from December 14, 2017
  13. An example: The Frankfurt Book Fair only recognizes press cards as "valid" as proof of accreditation that are issued by ver.di (Media Industry Union, German Employees Union), German Journalists Association DJV, Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers BDZV, Association of German Magazine Publishers VDZ, IFJ (International Federation of Journalists, Brussels), Union International de la Presse Electronique (UIPRE), Association of Journalists for Technical and Scientific Journalism (TELI), Association of Motor Journalists (VdM), World Federation of Journalists and Travel Writers (FIJET), Association of German Agricultural Journalists (VDAJ), Association of German Travel Journalists (VDRJ), Aviation Press Club (LPC)
  14. "Press discounts: How journalists haggle for percentages" ZAPP Date of broadcast: June 17th, 2009 23:00