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Media consumers thrive on the threat of fake news

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Media consumers trust professional media more than social media for accurate reporting. Keystone / Etienne Laurent

According to a survey by the Swiss media landscape, the Covid-19 pandemic has made media consumers aware of the dangers of false or misleading information.

This content was published on October 25, 2021 – 5:28 pm

swissinfo.ch/mga

Other languages: 3 ( Original)

The latest edition of the annual Media Quality Yearbookexternal link from the research institute Fög of the University of Zurich found that the demand for quality journalism has increased due to the pandemic.

The analysis of around 5,400 responses to two surveys among media consumers showed that almost half of the respondents viewed fake news as a serious problem.

Social media was identified as a source of disinformation by 61.7% of people, followed by alternative media (39%), online video channels (36%) and messenger apps (27.7%).

In contrast, professional media have a better reputation, with only 13.8% of respondents having problems with these channels – while 15.8% expressed concerns about official government information.

“Our study makes it clear that an intact system of professional news media, including public media, is essential for the resilience of Swiss society to disinformation,” says the report.

While the pandemic appears to have cemented trust in professional journalism relative to other sources of information, it has also threatened the very survival of some media companies by reducing advertising revenue.

“The worsening economic crisis in journalism is an unfavorable development,” the report’s authors say. “Journalism plays an extremely important role for society in times of crisis. It helps keep the population informed and limits the spread of disinformation. “

The media did a better job in some ways during the second wave of the pandemic by releasing a wider range of official statistics, researchers note. But considering that Covid-19 affects all levels of society, journalists could better represent the views and opinions of a wider range of people.

The report concluded that women could also be better represented in all subjects through the media. The analysis of 18,695 articles from 60 media comes to the “sobering” conclusion that women are still “severely underrepresented”.

SWI swissinfo.ch was included in the quality of the media yearbook for the first time and achieved a comparatively credible quality rating of 7.2.

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