The German findings of the "Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2021" on news usage in international comparison show that almost half of internet users receive misinformation about the coronavirus. The greatest concerns about encountering false information about the coronavirus are towards Facebook (28%) and messenger apps (14 %) as well as towards activists as senders (31%). Journalistic actors play only a minor role from the respondents' point of view (6%).
The Reuters Institute Digital News Report, whose German sub-study is conducted annually by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research, is based on 92,372 respondents from 46 countries on six continents in 2021.
The international as well as the German 2021 report were published in London on 23 June 2021.
- News interest and news usage frequency remain stable at a high level. 92% of adult onliners in Germany read, listen to or watch news at least several times a week in 2021 (2020: 94%) and 67% say they are very or extremely interested in news (2020: 71%).
- One in two adult internet users (51%) is extremely or very interested in politics in 2021. 18 per cent express not much or no interest at all. These values are at a similar level to the previous year (2020: 52%).
- News reaches 69 per cent of adult internet users on both television and the internet in 2021 (2020: 70% in each case).
- Looking at the individual genres, news on linear programme television is the most widespread access channel for finding out about current events. In the age group of 18 to 24, 46 per cent of respondents watched news on TV in the past week, an increase of 4 percentage points.
- On the internet, 31 per cent of adult onliners are most likely to be exposed to news content on social media (2020: 37%). In the age group of 18- to 24-year-olds, 52 per cent watch, read or listen to news on social media (2020: 56%).
- The proportion of adult internet users who seek out news services from broadcasters online has increased from 23 per cent to 27 per cent. Increases can be observed in all age groups.
- News in newspapers and magazines (26%) as well as on the radio (40%) reach fewer adult online users in 2021 than in the previous year of 2020. A lower reach in these genres can be observed in all age groups.
- At 44%, television is the most important source of news for the majority of adult internet users in Germany (2020: 42%). In all age groups, the proportion of those who consider television to be their main source of news has risen; most significantly among 18- to 24-year-olds by +5 percentage points to 22 per cent and among 25- to 34-year-olds by +7 percentage points to 28 per cent.
- For 40 per cent, the internet is the main source of news (2020: 38%). For ten per cent, social media are the most important resource (2020: 11%). Among the 18- to 24-year-olds, it is the most important news source for 25 per cent (2020: 30%).
- Four per cent of adult onliners rely on social media as their sole resource for news (2020: 4%); among 18- to 24-year-olds, the figure is eight per cent (2020: 9%).
- 53 per cent of respondents generally trust the news in Germany in 2021. That is eight percentage points more than last year (2020: 45%). An increase can be observed in all age groups, but most notably among 18- to 24-year-olds (2021: 48%; 2020: 31%).
- 62 per cent trust the news they use; this corresponds to an increase of 3 percentage points compared to 2020. News in social media is trusted by 14 per cent of onliners, as in the previous year.
- Onliners in Germany expect a majority of news media to report news that reflects a range of different opinions (77%), without media advocating a view that they themselves consider to be the best. Nine per cent are in favour of this.
- 37 per cent of online adults express concerns about not being able to distinguish possible false reports from facts. At 46 per cent, almost half of the respondents have seen false or misleading information about Covid-19 within a week. The biggest concerns about encountering misinformation are towards Facebook (28%) and messenger apps (14%), and activists as senders (31%).
- Most adult internet users in Germany consider the amount of news coverage on various topics to be just right. It is most likely to be perceived as insufficient with regard to "people my age" (27%), especially among 18- to 24-year-olds (42%), and with regard to "one's own place of residence" (25%).
- In terms of content, most respondents feel that the reporting is appropriate with regard to various topics. This applies least to the content on "one's own political views" (46%) and on "one's own social and economic class" (50%).
- Young onliners between the ages of 18 and 24 are not only the most dissatisfied with the amount of coverage about their age group, they are also the most likely to consider content about people their own age to be inappropriate (37%).
- In order to read, listen to or watch news online, 61% of the respondents regularly use a smartphone (2020: 58%).
- The user base of podcasts is no longer growing as fast as in previous years. 25 per cent of adult onliners in Germany listen to a podcast at least once a month in 2021 (2020: 24%).
- The weekly use of messages on WhatsApp (17%) and YouTube (16%) is slightly increasing in the trend, while Facebook (18%) is losing ground. On Instagram, 25 per cent of onliners in the youngest age group of 18- to 24-year-olds regularly watch news content in 2021; in the previous year of 2020, it was 20 per cent.
- The main reasons for news-related use of social media vary greatly from person to person. For Facebook, the most frequently cited answer (31%) is mainly to check news while being there for other reasons. Among Instagram users, news is most likely to be an entertaining and amusing way to pass the time (23%), and Twitter users like the discussions and comments on news the most (24%).
- As before, only a comparatively small proportion actively participate in news reporting on social media. Twelve per cent of adult internet users regularly like news posts on social media, eight per cent comment and seven per cent share them online. Once again, it is evident 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.
- The proportion of adult online users in Germany who have spent money on news services on the internet remains stable at nine per cent in 2021 (2020: 10%). Among those who have not paid for online news in the past year, eleven per cent consider it likely that they will change their behaviour in the next twelve months. Future willingness to pay for online news is highest among the youngest age group of 18- to 24-year-olds (19%).
- The issue that most people are also concerned with on a local level in 2021 is the COVID-19 pandemic. 59 per cent of online adults have engaged with information on the coronavirus and other health-related local news. The news source that can provide the best information from the perspective of those interested in the topic is the online and offline offerings of regional newspapers (32%). The information provided by regional television stations is considered best by 17 per cent.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez