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News on Social Media Enjoys Little Trust: Hans-Bredow-Institut Publishes German Results of the "Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018" on News Usage in an International Comparison

Hamburg, 14 June 2018. A third of adult Internet users (31 %) use social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp or YouTube as a news source. However, for only 7 per cent it is the most important source, for just under 2 per cent it is the only source. These are the results of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, whose German sub-study was conducted by the Hans-Bredow-Institut. Overall, the study of 2018 is based on answers from 74,194 respondents from 37 countries.

Mix of Traditional and New Media

The Germans use a mix of traditional and new media to inform themselves about world events. Three out of four adult online users watch news on TV several times a week (74%), 45 per cent listen to news on the radio. Online news is accessed several times a week by 65% of Internet users older than 18.
Printed newspapers show an increase of 4 percentage points compared to 2017 and reach 30 per cent of adult online users in 2018. The online editions of newspapers (25%) and magazines (29%) also gained 3 percentage points compared to the previous year.

Television Remains Most Important News Source, Internet Gains Importance

Television is not only the most widespread source for news, but also the most important source for most of the online users (49%). One in three uses the Internet as the main news source (32%); among 18 to 24 year olds it reaches 59 per cent. However, for the youngest group of respondents, traditional journalistic and editorial offers for news use on the Internet are also in the foreground.

Direct Access to Well-Known Media Brands Are Most Common

The direct access to the website or the app of a specific news offer is the most widespread (36%) and most used (35%) approach in all age groups. Accordingly, the news brand continues to be a decisive criterion for access to news for young and older users. Algorithm-based options for finding news, especially on social media, are also relevant for younger online users.

Predominantly Trust in the Media

Every second adult online user in Germany trusts the majority of news (50%). 60 per cent of the respondents trust the news that they use themselves. The highest levels of trust are to be found in the main news programmes of the two public television channels and in regional daily newspapers.

More Than a Third Concerned about “Fake News“

37 per cent of German online users are concerned about “fake news” on the Internet. They are worried that they cannot distinguish facts from false reports. Concerns exist both in relation to reports in which facts are distorted or falsified and in relation to poor journalistic performance, such as factual errors, major simplification or misleading headlines. In an international comparison, more than half of all respondents were very or extremely concerned about “fake news.” The highest numbers are recorded in Brazil (85%), Spain (69%) and the United States (64%), where are polarised political public is accompanied by a high usage of social media. People are least worried in the Netherlands (30%).

German’s Interest in Current World Affairs Is High

95 per cent of adult online users in Germany inform themselves at least several times a week about current world events on television, on the radio, in printed newspapers and magazines or on the Internet. Overall, 70 per cent are "extremely" or "very" interested in news. Both figures are at a similarly high level as in 2017. An explicit interest in political news is expressed by 54 per cent of respondents, and 32 per cent are somewhat interested in this topic. Only 14 per cent are not interested in political news.

Interest in Video News Is Low

60 per cent state that they usually read messages in writing and only occasionally watch a video online. On the other hand, only 8 per cent use news content on the Internet mostly as video and only occasionally as text. 11 per cent would like to see more news videos in the future. However, every fourth respondent would like to see fewer news videos on the Internet (24%).

The Importance of Smartphones for News Consumption Increases

Laptops or computers (55%) remain the most widely used device for consuming online news. However, the lead these devices have over the smartphone (47%) is melting from year to year. In the age groups under 45 years, the use of the smartphone is already predominant.

Active Participation in News Reporting Especially on the Political Fringes

The majority of Internet users avoids does not actively participate in news reporting on the Internet. Ten per cent of the respondents comment on articles on social media and six per cent comment directly on the websites of news providers. Users who see themselves being on the left or on the right of the political spectrum and/or do not trust news reporting are particularly active.

18 to 24 Year Olds Have Higher Media Literacy

In order to assess the media literacy of the respondents, a question was asked about the financing of news sources, press releases and the selection of news on Facebook. Only 12 per cent of all online users were able to answer all questions correctly. The most correct answers were given in the group of 18 to 24 year olds.

Willingness to Pay for Online News Increases Slowly

The willingness to spend money on online news in the future has increased slightly in all age groups and ranges between 16 and 21 per cent.

Information on the Study

Since 2012, the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey conducts annual representative surveys in 37 countries to examine general trends as well as national peculiarities of news usage. We can consume news not only through traditional ways, but also via the Internet whenever and wherever we like. What kind of news interest people? What devices and ways are used to find news? Who of the providers is trusted the most? And what do people think about financing journalism?
The study of 2018 was carried out simultaneously in the following countries under the co-ordination of the Oxford-based Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil (urban regions), Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico (urban regions), the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey (urban regions) and the USA. About 2,000 people were interviewed in each country. Overall, the study of 2018 is based on answers from 74,194 respondents from 37 countries. The field work was carried out between 19 and 22 January 2018 by the survey institute YouGov.

Since 2013, the Hans-Bredow-Institut has been the collaborating partner responsible for the German contribution. In 2018, the survey has been supported by the Landesmedienanstalten [State Media Authorities] and by the ZDF [Second German Television].

The complete report with all international findings will be presented to the public on 14 June 2018, in London, New York and Berlin. Later on, it will be available on the website of the Hans-Bredow-Institut.
You can find further information at http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/ (English) and on the project page of the Hans-Bredow-Institut: www.hans-bredow-institut.de (German).

Contact

Dr. Sascha Hölig, Tel. 040 450 217 84, E-Mail

Information on the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

The Institute was founded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2006; it is based at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. The Institute is an international research centre in the comparative study of journalism. With its global perspective in its research, the Institute offers a forum for researchers from a wide range of disciplines and journalists from all over the world. More information at http://reuters institute.politics.ox.ac.uk/

Information on the Hans-Bredow-Institut

The research perspective of the Hans-Bredow-Institut focuses on media transformation and related structural changes of public communication. With its cross-medial, interdisciplinary and independent research, it combines basic research and transfer research, and thus, generates knowledge on issues relevant for politics, commerce and civil society. In 2019, the Institute will be admitted into the Leibniz Association. The Joint Science Conference passed a corresponding resolution on 13 April 2018. More at www.hans-bredow-institut.de/en.

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