Definition and functions
Media convey information between people, they are an instrument of communication.
Their functions are varied and extend for instance from the very definition extensive information function, the general imparting of knowledge and experience, the articulation function, in which they put the politicians the mood of the people and the control function, which is composed of the critical reporting on the politics, to the socialization function, which they exercise through the mediation of social roles.
Media in the Basic Law
Constitutionally base of the media, Article 5 GG.
(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.
(2) These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honor.
Media and Federal Organs
The laws, which are made in the Bundestag, the latest manifestations of a minister on current problems or the rulings of the Federal Constitutional Court, to know all of these things the citizens generally do not use the own channels of state organs such as the Federal Law Gazette, but independent media. Newspapers, radio and television, but also modern media such as the Internet report to citizens what the state organs are doing or not doing.
The individual usually has no feasible way to be kept informed without the media as an interim body.
The same applies, of course, vice versa, in addition to the public the media informs the politicians.
This makes the media important and influential, but also it is problematic, because of the indirect representation in the media, the original content becomes more or less distorted, even if an objective reporting is sought. Furthermore, many media is not independent, but economically or socially, bound at least to one grouping. Accordingly is the reporting of these media.
Media as a fourth power
Because of their great influence on the opinion-forming of the people, the media occasionally is named as a fourth force in addition to the three traditional powers legislative, executive and jurisdiction. This is obvious because the media really controls the other powers, to a certain degree, through critical reporting (criticism and control function of the media).