The present study focuses on the effect of court press releases on media gatekeeping, a field that has remained largely uninvestigated to date. Using original data on the German Federal Constitutional Court, the study analyzes when court press releases are reported on in the media. Certain news values (e.g., conflict, political power, continuity/familiarity) are assumed to increase the probability that a press release will be reported on in the news. By using an automated content analysis approach, this study assesses whether 584 court press releases are reported on in German newspapers over a period of 10 years (2008–2018). Only press releases that promote court decisions are used as they are the official information subsidies that the trigger (i.e., the Court) of the news event (i.e., the decision) disseminates to the public through the media. Findings indicate that only 18% of press releases are reported on in the news. Furthermore, the news values of conflict and political power are found to have no influence on the success of a press release, while press releases that promote decisions with an oral hearing are more likely to be picked up by journalists. Issues that are already on the media’s agenda and are familiar to the public are thus more likely to be covered again.
court communication; court reporting; press releases; open justice; news values; computational text analysis
Accpeted for publication in Journalism Studies.