Berlin. We are standing in front of a huge, modern, bureaucratic and mighty building. To get in we have to hand in our identity cards – everything is strict, under control and regulated for security reasons. We have an appointment with one of the four responsible press aides of the German parliament – Eva Haacke. She leads us into a conference room where she tells us more about her job and the press office of the German parliament in general.
Haacke and her colleagues work for the second highest authority in Germany – the president of the German parliament (Bundestag), Mr. Norbert Lammert. The main job of a press aide is to take care on press, broadcast and television regarding the parliament. As a press aide, she always has to keep an eye on the current media coverage, organizes press conferences and informs journalists. The press office of “Deutscher Bundestag” supplies information out of the parliament through different ways, from just answering phone calls to video on demand and live-television coverage as well as social networking such as twitter.
Pure legislations are the most thematised topics, but there is a bunch of topics she also has to deal with, for example public party funding, presidential appointments or currently five commissions of inquiry. The work depends on what pops up on a particular day.
We learned a lot about the job as a press aide in general and came throughout of that to the discussion about how journalism in Germany as well as in Nepal is, the press freedom and the differences between public relations and a press office. Especially the difference between public relations and a press office acquired attention. While PR is planned and structured advertising, a parliamentarian press office does not advertise at all. They always give information but never comment politically on special issues, because that is the task of each political group of the House. The job in the press office is more about troubleshooting and trying to get updated with the upcoming issues – it is about being responsive, defensive and to make the processes and procedures in the parliament more transparent and visible for the citizens. Twitter, live-TV or video on demand are just a few tools to reinforce the transparency. For the younger ones, there are special homepages like http://www.kuppelkucker.de (visitors of the cupola) and http://www.mitmischen.de for teenagers to make them already familiar with the Bundestag and its processes.
From the huge, modern building of the press office we went a few steps down the street to another huge but this time an old and historic building – the German parliament.
We were already expected for a guided tour through the “Deutscher Bundestag”. As the Nepali student Nischhal said, “It would never be possible to enter the Nepali parliament for a tour inside”. We had a guide who could answer all the questions we had. She explained and gave us facts about the building itself, the function and the history. For instance, she told us about the transparency the architect wanted to reach, especially with the cupola out of glass as a reflection of the transparency of the parliament itself.
For the most of the Germans, it wasn’t the first time in the German parliament. But Kim Geisler, a German student who takes part of the Media School Nepal 2016, thinks that it is quite impressive to see each time – the history of our own country bunched in one building.