Hamburg, 15.06.2022. Germans are significantly less interested in news; only 57 per cent of adult internet users are still interested in information about current affairs. That is ten percentage points less than last year. The decline is most visible in the group of 18 to 24 year-olds, in which only 31 per cent are interested in news, which is 19 percentage points less. At the same time, the percentage of those who at least occasionally try to avoid the news rises to 65 per cent. Topic fatigue, causing a bad mood and exhaustion due to the vast amount of information are the main reasons for this. In addition, young people in particular do not perceive news as important or useful to them personally; they have the impression that they cannot do anything with the information and often find it difficult to understand. Nevertheless, news still reaches many people: weekly usage remains stable at a high level.
These are the results of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2022, whose German sub-study was conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research in Hamburg. In total, the study is based on 93,432 respondents from 46 countries on six continents. The survey was conducted in January/February 2022.
News Fatigue Among German Online Users
In the long run, people are less interested in the news. In 2022, 57 per cent of adult internet users in Germany say that they are very or extremely interested in news (2021: 67 %). At the same time, one in ten online users aged 18 and above often consciously tries to avoid the news; 65 per cent at least occasionally. These figures have increased significantly in all age groups within the past five years.
Coverage of topics such as politics and corona is often perceived as too much and is the most frequently cited cause of news avoidance (47 %). Negative effects on mood and exhaustion due to the large amount of news are other frequently mentioned reasons. There is hardly any difference between the age groups. What is striking are the comparatively high percentages among people between the age of 18 and 24 who say that news content leads to arguments (21 %) and who feel that they cannot do anything with the information (16 %) or do not understand it (10 %).
Despite these developments, the overall proportion of adult internet users in Germany who read, listen to or watch news at least several times a week is stable at 92 per cent (2021: 92%).
Internet Surpasses Television as the News Source with the Highest Reach
To find out about current events on their own doorstep, in Germany and in the world, most adult internet users in Germany use the internet in 2022. Having a weekly share of 68 per cent, it has moved ahead of television with 65 per cent. Last year in 2021, both genres were still tied with 69 per cent each.
Overall, traditional news providers dominate news usage on the internet. 47 per cent regularly read, watch or listen to the content of established news sites; among 18- to 24-year-olds, the figure is 49 per cent. In this age group, however, 55 per cent use social media as the most widespread source of news content on the internet. For 39 per cent among them, they are also the most important resource for news, which translates into an increase of 14 percentage points.
International Comparison: Trust in News Slightly Declining
After an increase in trust in news could be observed in several of the countries participating in the Reuters study in the Corona year of 2021, this partially wore off again in 2022. In Germany, at the beginning of 2022, half of the adult onliners felt that the majority of news could usually be trusted. This is three percentage points less than in the previous year 2021 (53 %), but five percentage points higher than before the pandemic. In an international comparison, Germany is among the third of the countries with the highest trust in news.
Among the brands that respondents are familiar with, the main news programmes "Tagesschau" and "heute" of the public broadcasters are again the ones with the highest trust scores in 2022. The top 3 also include regional or local daily newspapers.
Increasing Reach of News on Instagram and TikTok - WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook Lose Out
WhatsApp, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used social media. These three platforms are also the offerings in this category that most people use regularly to search, read, view, share or discuss news (WhatsApp 15%, YouTube 14%, Facebook 17%). Compared to the previous year, news has lost reach on all three platforms (2021: WhatsApp 17 %, YouTube 16 %, Facebook 18 %). In contrast, there are signs of a growing trend on Instagram (8 %) and TikTok (2 %).
Reporting Takes Precedence over Expression of Opinion by Journalists on Social Media
Regarding the question of how journalistic use of social media should be designed, the assessments of the respondents depend on their age. Overall, 52 per cent think it would be better for journalists to stick to news reporting, while 31 per cent think they should be able to express their personal opinions in addition to covering news online. With increasing age, the respective proportions of respondents who are in favour of focusing on reporting become larger. In the youngest age group surveyed, 18 to 24-year-olds, however, the approval of personal expressions of opinion by journalists in addition to news reporting predominates.
Only a Few People Participate in News Reporting on Social Media
There are still only a comparatively small number of internet users who actively participate in news reporting on social media. Twelve per cent of adult online users regularly like news articles, nine per cent share news articles and seven per cent comment on news articles. In the young age group of those aged 18 to 24, the percentages are somewhat larger than the average of the population. Once again, it can be observed that online users who place themselves on the left or right of the political spectrum are proportionately more likely to share and comment on articles than users in the political centre.
Willingness to Pay for Online News on the Rise
In 2022, we see a significant increase in the number of online users who have used a paid news service on the internet in the past year. 14 per cent of respondents say they have spent money on digital news; this is five percentage points more than in the previous year. An increase can be seen in all age groups. However, in the age group of 18 to 24 years, it is the biggest increase with a plus of 14 percentage points. 23 per cent of them say that they have paid for news on the internet in the past year. Ongoing payment in the form of a subscription or membership is the most frequently chosen payment model. Most people subscribe to a local or regional news service.
People Prefer to Read News on the Internet Rather Than to Watch It
Most people prefer to find out about current news events in text form. 58 per cent prefer to read online news, while one in ten prefer to watch it as a video. The main argument in favour of the text form is the faster way to absorb information; videos, on the other hand, are easier to receive.
Podcast User Base Grows Slightly
In 2022, 29 per cent of internet users in Germany from the age of 18 listen to a podcast at least once a month, four percentage points more than in the previous year. Proportionally, most new podcast listeners are in the group aged 35 to 44; among them, 39 per cent regularly listen to such audio offerings, which corresponds to an increase of plus nine percentage points. Most listeners prefer programmes on specific topics.
Young Adults Call for News Media to Take a Clear Position on Climate Change
With more than 40 per cent, the majority of young adults under 35 believe that news media should take a clear position in favour of addressing the climate crisis. In contrast, 45 per cent of all online adults in Germany prefer neutral reporting on climate change. When asked about potential action on climate change, most people in all age groups think news media should focus their coverage on what governments and big business could do. However, one in four people between the ages of 18 and 24 would also like to see more attention paid to individual opportunities for action.
Overall, scientists make up the most followed sources for news on climate change, followed by television or film documentaries and major news media. In contrast, 15 per cent of respondents pay no attention to climate change at all.
Information on the Study
Since 2012, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report has been investigating general trends and national peculiarities of news usage by means of representative surveys in by now 46 countries every year. What types of news are of interest? What devices and channels are used to find it? What providers are trusted and what are people's views on funding journalism?
The 2022 study was conducted simultaneously in the following countries under the coordination of the Oxford (UK) based Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism: Argentina1
, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil1
, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile1
, Columbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece1
, Hong Kong, Hungary, India1
, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya1
, the Netherlands, Nigeria1
, Norway, Peru, the Philippines1
, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa1
, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey1
, the United Kingdom and the United States. About 2,000 people per country were interviewed in 2022. In the tenth repetition, the study is based on a total of 93,432 respondents from 46 countries on six continents.
The fieldwork was carried out by the polling institute YouGov between 14 January and 10 February 2022, prior to the start of Russia's war against the Ukraine.
The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut has been responsible for the German part of the study as a cooperation partner since 2013. In 2022, the survey was funded by the State Media Authorities and the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF).
The report with the international findings will be presented to the public in London on 15 June 2022 and will then also be made available on the HBI website together with the study on the findings in Germany.
Further information on the study can be found here: http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/
(English) and on the HBI website
Dr. Sascha Hölig, [email protected]
Information on the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
The Institute, which was founded in 2006 by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, is based in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. The Institute is an internationally active research centre for comparative journalism research. Its research takes a global perspective and provides a forum for researchers from a wide range of disciplines to meet with journalists from all over the world. More on http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/
Information on the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
The Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) researches media change and the associated structural changes in public communication. It combines basic research and research on knowledge transfer from a cross-media, interdisciplinary and independent scientific perspective and thus provides problem-specific knowledge for politics, commerce and civil society. In 2019, it was admitted to the Leibniz Association in 2019. More at www.leibniz-hbi.de
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Limited representativeness of the sample.