May 20, 2016
In the context of European integration, the growing unimportance of national borders is currently being discussed in the social sciences. Approaching the discussion empirically, this article analyzes trans-border regional newspaper reporting in German border regions. To what extent are events in a neighboring country covered by local newspapers issued in towns situated close to the respective border as compared to events within Germany? The frequency of appearance of city names is measured, controlled against their size and distance from the place of publication of the newspaper. It is shown that events on the German side of the border are covered far more frequently than events in neighboring countries. Among neighboring countries, events in Luxembourg and Austria get most coverage, while events in Belgium receive the least attention. To explain these differences, three hypotheses are tested. Findings show that the intensity of economic exchange and the duration of EU-membership have no effect. However, the mutual language competences, measured as the likelihood of a German from the border region and a neighboring foreigner being able to communicate in one of the respective mother tongues, partly explain the differences in coverage of events beyond the border.