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Not Always Transparent and Credible: Media and Politics in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Not Always Transparent and Credible: Media and Politics in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Hamburg, 06.06.2023. Most residents of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are interested in what is happening in their state and obtain information in the classic way from radio and television, supplemented by personal conversations. Among younger people, the Internet and social media also play a role. People also use mostly established providers from radio, television, and the press as sources of information online. Only one percent of people get their information exclusively from social media. These are the findings of the study "Media Use and Political Culture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania" by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research in Hamburg, which was presented today in Schwerin.

Study available for download (pdf, in German): https://doi.org/10.21241/ssoar.86819

Migration Policy and Energy Crisis are Most Important Current Issues

The effects of migration policy and the energy crisis are currently the two issues that people in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania consider most important. In this regard, many feel that they are not sufficiently informed and perceived. Political institutions are accused of lacking transparency and credibility. This criticism of politics is also reflected in the levels of trust in democratic institutions. While the police and judiciary enjoy a comparatively high level of trust, the parties in general, the federal government and the Bundestag, as well as the state government and the state parliament, are trusted significantly less. Politicians' speeches and the tabloid media are accorded the least credibility.

NDR Is Considered Most Credible by Many People

The highest credibility is enjoyed by public broadcasters and regional daily newspapers. The fact that a different picture sometimes emerges in social media may be because only comparatively small proportions of the population express their opinions there and AfD sympathizers are the most eager to comment. In comparison, AFD supporters express the lowest level of credibility toward established media and the lowest level of trust toward democratic institutions. But it is not only AfD supporters who are dissatisfied with how democracy functions in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. People who do not lean toward any party express critical views. Dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy goes hand in hand with a lack of trust in democratic institutions and a lack of credibility attributed to the media.

Media Usage Cannot Explain Dissatisfaction

Nevertheless, even those who are dissatisfied do not inform themselves much differently than those who are more satisfied with the way things work. Established providers from radio, television and the press serve most as sources of information, on- or offline, supplemented by personal conversations. In addition to a lack of trust in parties and government, the perception of the extent to which one can make a political difference oneself is closely related to satisfaction with democracy. People who believe their actions have an impact on shaping society are significantly more satisfied than those who feel powerless and ignored.

Overview of the Most Important Results in Detail

  • More than 90 percent of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania residents aged 16 and over are very or at least somewhat interested in current affairs in their federal state.
  • Residents are most likely to get information about current events in their state from television and radio. 73 per cent each use these two information channels at least several times a week.
  • In personal conversations, 69 per cent get the latest news from their federal state several times a week; 62 per cent get their information from the internet and 50 per cent from a printed daily or weekly newspaper.
  • While people under the age of 30 are most likely to come into contact with news and information about relevant events in their own federal state through personal conversations, older users obtain information classically from television and radio, and the middle-aged group prefers to use the internet.
  • Of the users who inform themselves at least several times a week on television, 92 per cent use services of the NDR; 40 per cent use private-commercial TV services and eleven per cent inform themselves on regional community television, such as Fernsehen in Schwerin or ROK-TV.
  • Among those who regularly listen to the radio to get regional information, regional public broadcasting is - as with television - the most frequently mentioned source.
  • Among those who use the internet at least several times a week for regional information, 47 per cent use social media for this purpose. In relation to the total population of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania aged 16 and older, this corresponds to 29 per cent.
  • Only a very small proportion of respondents obtain information exclusively from social media. One percent of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania residents aged 16 and older do not use any other media service at least several times a week.
  • Fifteen per cent of those surveyed regularly "share" current content; twelve per cent "like" it and seven per cent comment on socio-political topics in social media. The proportions of the population who regularly "like" and "share" are highest among supporters of the AfD and the Greens.
  • When it comes to socially relevant information about Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, most internet users prefer text form. Overall, 57 per cent often or very often read such contributions on the internet. Contributions to listen to or to watch are preferred by every fifth person (20%).
  • The currently most important problems in the federal state are considered to be migration policy, the energy crisis and the loss of trust in politics. The most important sources of information are television, newspapers, personal experiences and conversations.
  • The greatest credibility is given to public information and regional newspapers; the least to the tabloid press and information from politicians and social media.
  • People in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern trust the police, the judiciary, their local council and administration the most. "The further away" political institutions are, the less trust is placed in them; overall, the parties in general and the federal government are trusted the least.
  • Overall, 60 per cent agree with the statement that democracy is the political system that best suits our society. Satisfied with the way democracy functions in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are 32 per cent.
  • The proportions of those who are satisfied as well as those who are partially satisfied and those who are not satisfied and who use the media services surveyed do not show any different patterns. The clearly largest share of the population is reached via classic information providers such as the news and press products, online and offline, as well as in personal conversations of regional information.
  • Although there are hardly any differences in media use, they become clear in the attributions of credibility. Those who are dissatisfied with the functioning of democracy attribute less credibility to the information on offer, especially information from politicians, and they trust political institutions significantly less than the two more satisfied groups compared.
  • Twelve percent of respondents believe that they can make a difference politically in Germany. Half of the residents of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania aged 16 and older believe that their effectiveness is not particularly strong.
  • The perception of the extent to which one can make a political difference is closely related to satisfaction with how democracy functions in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Of those who think they can make a difference politically, over half (51%) are satisfied with how democracy works in their state. Of those who think their actions have little effect on the political shaping of life in Germany, only one in four is satisfied with the way democracy works.
Studie available for download (pdf, in German)

About the Research Project "Media Use and Political Culture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

The research project "Media Use and Political Culture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania" investigated how people in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania inform themselves about politics and other socially relevant topics in their federal state and what general attitudes they have towards politics. The study aims to provide an overview of politically oriented media use and political culture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It will also help to develop strategies to reach population groups that largely avoid the use of news and political content more effectively. The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut was supported for this study by the State Agency for Civic Education Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Media Authority Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

About the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)

The Hans-Bredow-Institut researches media change and the associated structural changes in public communication. Cross-media, interdisciplinary and independent, it combines basic science and transfer research and thus creates problem-relevant knowledge for politics, commerce, and civil society. In 2019, the institute was accepted into the Leibniz Association. More at https://leibniz-hbi.de/de.


Christiane Matzen
Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut
Tel. 040 45 02 17 41
c.matzen @ leibniz-hbi.de
Photo: Yulia Buchatskaya / Unsplash


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