Objective and sample

Today, more content, more vendors and more media or devices are available than ever for the use of news. Not only by traditional means, but also via the Internet, we can provide us with informative information anytime and anywhere. What types of messages are of interest; which devices and ways are used to find these; which providers are trusted and which views people represent regarding the financing of journalism: These are questions that have been investigated since 2012 in the context of the Reuters Institute Digital News Survey.

Coordinated by the Oxford-based Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, the study will be held simultaneously in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil1, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy , Japan, Canada, Croatia, Malaysia, Mexico1, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Hungary and the USA, to be able to recognize general trends as well as national peculiarities.

In 2017, around 2,000 people were interviewed per country. Overall, in the sixth round, the study is based on 71,805 respondents from 36 countries.

The field work was carried out in the last week of January and the first week of February 2017 by the YouGov survey institute, which based on online access panels drew samples that are representative of Internet users of the participating countries from the age of 18 years. In this regard, when interpreting the results, it should be taken into account that sampling from online access panels may produce results that somewhat overestimate aspects of internet affinity and use of the social web.3

The Hans Bredow Institute has been responsible as a cooperation partner for the German sub-study since 2013; the survey in 2017 was supported by the state media authorities and the Second German Television (ZDF).

In order to create a common understanding, which is meant in the cross-national analysis of the term “news”, respondents were initially informed that “[…] with” news “information about international, national, regional / local or other current events [that are] accessible via radio, television, print media or online “.

The very small number of participants who did not use any messages within the past month (1.8%) was not further questioned, since the main interest of the study is those who use the news. The results presented are representative of the German population aged 18 and over and Internet access4 in 2017.

2. Basic values of message usage

Interest in news and frequency of use

The vast majority of adult online users keep themselves up to date with current events in the world. In 2017, 94 percent of the German population with Internet access state that they watch, read or listen to news at least several times a week, and 87 percent do so at least daily. The proportion of regular users in the older population groups is usually higher than in the younger, but also in the youngest age group of 18 to 24 year olds, 87 percent use information about the current news situation at least several times a week. These figures are at a similar level as in the previous year 2016, in some cases a little higher.

The interest in news is also stable compared to the previous year. Seventy percent of Internet users in Germany over the age of 18 say they are “very” or “very” interested in news. There is a similar pattern between age groups as with frequency of use. The tendency is for older online readers to not only use news more often than younger ones, they also express greater interest. The same applies to men and to people with higher formal education.

In an international comparison, Germany is among the top ten countries with the highest proportion of online users who are “very” and “very” interested in news.

Message prevention

In the current survey wave, we also wanted to know, in addition to the interest in news and the frequency of use, whether there are people actively trying to circumvent the news. And in fact, this is relatively often the case. Almost every second surveyed online in Germany says that it is currently at least occasionally to avoid the news. The largest share is among the under 35-year-old Internet users. Those who try to circumvent the news do so sometimes or in isolation. Only a small portion avoids them frequently (5%). At 49 percent, the proportion in Germany is relatively low compared to the other countries surveyed. For example, in Turkey, Croatia, Greece and Poland it is over 75 percent; in the US and Hungary at 65 and 66 percent respectively. It is lowest in Japan (20%) and Denmark (38%).

The reasons for sometimes bypassing messages are multifaceted. Of the interviewees who nowadays occasionally avoid the news, the most common reason, at 38 percent, is that current news can have a negative impact on their mood. Thirty percent say the brutal images make them sad. And 29 percent of online people in Germany who sometimes avoid news are doing so because they think they can not rely on them being true. The fact that they take too much time (13%) or that one can no longer concentrate on more important things through the news (11%) is one of the most seldom mentioned reasons. Incidentally, these latter two responses were increasingly given by men, while women tend to call negative effects on mood or sad images as arguments.