Horst Pöttker finished high school at the Hamburg Walddorf school and studied social and humanitarian sciences philosophy and mathematics in Zurich, Basel, Hamburg and Kiel he received his doctorate 1978 from the university of Basel and worked from 1982-1985 as an assistant on sociological studies at the university in Siegen. 1985-1996 he was the responsible editor of the journal „medium“. From 1992-1995 he was a Professor for communication studies at the university Leipzig ( Focus: The ethics of Journalism). 1995 he habilitated at the university of Siegen in sociology ( focus: sociology within communication and media). 1995–2013 he taught and researched as a professor for theory and practice at the university of Dortmund. Since 2001 he teaches as a guest professor and lecturer at universities in Rostow on Don, Iowa, Stawropol, Vienna and St. Petersburg.
He resigned in 2013 from the TU in Dortmund and was announced 2015 as a senior professor for the summer semester in sociology at the university of Hamburg. Horst Pöttker was from 2002 until 2013 managing director of the initiative (INA), the german follow up of the american media democracy organization- project censored-. 2004 he founded together with Wolfgang R. Langenbucher und Achim Baum the organization for support of publicist self control. He is a member of the network for the east European media coverage (n-ost) and a member of the migration council.