Is the research shown in newspapers true?

Mass media

Eva Baumann

To person

is a research assistant at the Institute for Journalism and Communication Research at HMTM Hannover. She has taught and researched at various universities and advises companies and institutions in the health sector on communication issues.

Contact: [email protected]

Katrin Keller

To person

is a copywriter, concept developer and freelance writer. From 2001 "2005 she was a research assistant, then a lecturer at the Institute for Communication Studies, WWU Münster. Her research interests: pop culture theories, star cult and fan research, identity theories.

Contact: [email protected]

Marcus Maurer

To person

is Professor of Empirical Methods at the Institute for Communication Studies at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, with a focus on political communication, media impact research, empirical methods.

Contact: [email protected]

Thorsten Quandt

To person

holds the chair for communication science, especially interactive media and online communication, at the University of Hohenheim. His work focuses on media innovations, online media and digital games.

Contact: [email protected]

Wolfgang Schweiger

To person

is Professor of Public Relations and Technology Communication at the TU Ilmenau. His work focuses on public relations and advertising, media change and online communication, media use and effects, empirical methods.

Contact: [email protected]

Mass media are the most important source of information for people. They have many different effects on society. Some can be viewed as positive, others must be viewed as negative.

An Afghan man reads a newspaper with the news about the election results in a market square in Kabul, Afghanistan. (& copy AP)

Media use "Media effects

Media usage

Every German uses an average of ten hours of media a day, eight and a half hours of which is the daily media of television, radio, newspapers and the Internet (2010). In 1980 the media time budget was less than six hours. In the 1990s, television in particular gained in importance: while German citizens watched almost two hours of television in 1980, it is currently over three hours.

In the past few years, the Internet has revolutionized the media scene: Before 1998, not even one in ten Germans was online. Two out of three Germans now use the Internet at least occasionally. Almost all young people are online (14 to 19 years: 98%, 20 to 29 years: 95%), and the majority of the middle-aged groups surf, email and chat. Only a minority of the over-60s are online (27%), but that is also changing at the moment.

At the same time, daily newspapers are falling in favor of the public: while 71 percent of Germans read a newspaper in 1990, it was only 44 percent in 2010. The trend continues to decline. Books, on the other hand, are experiencing a renaissance: in 1995 a German citizen read a book an average of 15 minutes a day, it was 21 minutes in 2010.

Media usage in Germany 2010
The individual media have individual usage profiles in the course of the day: While daily newspapers are read in the morning, the radio also runs in the morning and during the entire working day as a side medium, the evening belongs to television and, more recently, to the Internet. Prime time, i.e. the time with the most users, is between 7 and 8 p.m. on the Internet, and thus directly before television prime time. The Internet has blossomed from a medium of work to a medium of leisure.

Daily media in adolescents aged 12-19
Differences in media use:

For a long time it was said that women are online less often than men. This is still true across almost all age groups. In the group of 14 to 29 year olds, however, the gender difference has now completely disappeared. However, women and men are sometimes interested in different applications: While men surf, play and download music, games and films more, women chat a little more and cavort more often in social networks such as Facebook, studiVZ, schuelerCC and MySpace.

The higher the level of education and income, the higher the proportion of Internet and newspaper users. The current book renaissance is also predominantly taking place in this group. Conversely, daily television consumption is significantly higher among the so-called educationally disadvantaged groups.

Children and adolescents watch far less television than adults. While three- to 13-year-olds spend an hour and a half in front of the television, the over-65-year-olds spend four and a half hours!

Positive effects "media functions

The media perform important functions for our democracy. Very few events take place in our immediate vicinity, so we have to rely on the news media: news programs and magazines on television and radio, daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and journalistic online news. Recently, reports from citizens on the Internet have also gained in importance, for example when Iranian citizens gave information about the situation in their country in blogs or in other social networks. Nevertheless, the following applies: We find out almost everything we know about the world in the media.

Lifelong learning and political participation:

After school, the media is the most important source of lifelong learning and civic education. This includes not only textbook knowledge about the structure of state institutions, but also personal experience of the actual processes of political decision-making processes. You learn at school what powers the Federal President has under the Basic Law. What role it actually plays can only be understood by observing daily events "through media use.

The internet in particular is seen as a great beacon of hope. One only has to ensure, according to the assumption, that everyone has access to the Internet. Then the ubiquitous availability of information leads to a surge in knowledge and education that increases the efficiency of our economy and promotes democracy. The Internet is now also an important platform for active political participation by citizens.

These hopes are fulfilled under two conditions: Citizens need the necessary media skills, so they have to know which media they can find which information, and they have to be at least partially interested in political and social issues. Otherwise a negative spiral arises: the less people understand political processes, the more politically disenchanted they are.

Which topics are relevant for society ?:

Through their reporting, the media give an impression of which political and social issues are currently of importance (media agenda). In doing so, they influence which topics people find important (agenda setting). The knowledge of the population about relevant topics is indispensable for democracy. Because only if the citizens know the current problem situation, they can also choose the parties that they trust most likely to solve these problems.

Interestingly, people rate politicians who they consider particularly successful with regard to a currently dominant topic to be more positive overall. The media agenda also shapes the evaluation criteria by which politicians are judged (priming effect). If, for example, climate change is at the top of the public agenda at a certain point in time and a government has achieved little in this area, it generally receives lower approval ratings in the opinion polls.

Another effect is the integration function of the media. In our pluralistic and multicultural society, groups of different countries of origin, languages ​​and backgrounds often live side by side in isolation and they hardly know each other. The media deliver content that almost everyone is familiar with (e.g. an important football broadcast) and topics that affect everyone (e.g. the upcoming federal election). The hope is derived from this that common media topics promote a common German identity and contribute to integration. This function is particularly evident at soccer world championships and public viewing events in large cities, where sometimes several thousand people watch a game together on big screens.

News media also publicly express the moods and expectations within the population. That is why the media, alongside opinion polls, is the most important way for parties and politicians to get to know public opinion and to align their politics with it "actually or only symbolically". The Bild newspaper in particular often addresses the sensitivities of the "little man on the street". In the meantime you can "look in the mouth" of the people on social networks if you look at the opinions expressed there.

Political influence:

During the election campaign, politicians try to address and convince citizens with live performances, for example in marketplaces or in beer tents. Of course, TV interviews and talk shows, websites and other reporting are more important because they are more attractive to the masses. Here, too, politics endeavors to reach and convince people with their issues and proposed solutions. Convincing means two things: strengthening the approval of one's own supporters (strengthening of opinion) and convincing citizens who originally have a different opinion (change of opinion).

In fact, the media can indeed reinforce existing opinions, but a real change of opinion through reporting alone rarely occurs. This is due to the human habit of preferring media or news that correspond to one's own opinion and avoiding other media (selective media use).

Real changes of opinion are more likely to take place in a personal conversation. Because in the dialogue, each side can react directly to the counter-arguments of the other side. In addition, people tend to perceive other people they know and with whom they are in direct contact as more trustworthy. The media, on the other hand, "there especially political actors and advertising" are suspected of being manipulated: Since the citizens there constantly expect attempts to influence them, they are more suspicious and are more difficult to convince.

Often there is a two-tier flow of communication: at the first tier, the mass media disseminates information to opinion leaders and other citizens; Changes of opinion hardly take place at this level. The opinion leaders are people with strong opinions who are asked for advice by other people on certain topics and who can then convince them "second level" through personal communication. Information campaigns are also making use of this idea. AIDS, drug, alcohol or non-smoking campaigns rely on not only the advertising posters and spots themselves, but also opinion leaders influencing their surroundings in the desired direction.

What do the others think?

The articulation function of the media not only gives politicians an insight into public opinion, but also the citizens themselves. People are strongly influenced by the opinion of others in their opinion-forming.

The direct environment has the greatest influence. What is said in one's own family, among friends, among acquaintances, classmates and colleagues has the greatest influence on one's own opinion. This goes so far that people do not express their opinion if they think that the majority of those around them disagree because they do not want to isolate themselves. The mood of the population depicted in the media and visible in social networks also works in this direction.

The recently deceased opinion and media researcher Elisabeth Noelle claimed that the possibility of finding out through the media what others think can lead to a spiral of silence: The group with the minority opinion falls silent in the public debate and is still effective smaller than it is anyway. This spiral of silence can only be broken if the minority expresses its opinion loudly and clearly in public. In fact, with these findings, Elisabeth Noelle successfully advised several CDU candidates for chancellor in the election campaign (most recently Helmut Kohl).

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Differences in interests in online use

[...] To better understand who is sending what type of messages for what reasons
How selects, receives, comments, disseminates "or ignores", we have to differentiate more precisely between individual user groups, usage situations and usage contexts.
Scanned three online newspapers, answered eight e-mails, checked the account balance, booked a train ticket, wrote two text messages on the way to the train station, listened to a mailbox message, checked the train connection on the platform with a smartphone, called up the weather forecast, an Excel table checked and forwarded, four PDFs opened, industry news reviewed. Such (hyper) active mobile multi-channel media use only occurs in very specific groups of people. It is primarily dependent on the industry, profession and position. In the example mentioned, a 45-year-old lawyer from a global management consultancy juggles many times more messages than her 14-year-old daughter, who is supposedly addicted to SMS, using a Blackberry and notebook.
The kids love their cell phones. And that is mainly due to developmental psychological reasons. It is usually your first own information and communication device, a small step into the adult world and above all the hot line to the friends who become the center of life in the course of moving away from home. Messages from the circle of friends bring variety, joy, liveliness; you don't want to miss it even at night.
It is very different for those adults who are inundated with urgent business inquiries and tasks around the clock. This is partly a symptom of unfavorable media use, but partly also a consequence of excessive workload and excessive performance demands. [...] A sensible handling of multitasking is a challenge in both cases: It is well known that schoolchildren as well as managers must be expressly imposed on them to temporarily put the devices aside during lessons or meetings. [...]
The ARD / ZDF online study 2009 shows great differences in the online news behavior of the two most active online groups, the "young wild ones" and the "determined trendsetters". The two groups together represent almost 18 percent of all respondents who use the Internet. The "young and wild" are on average 23 years old, 65 percent male. Of them, 42 percent are still going to school or are still in training. They have little responsibility, like to spend their free time outside, with the clique and look for exciting and exciting activities. They have the latest electronic devices, play videos and games online, but are disinterested in most subjects. They are only more interested in sports than the average online user.
They obtain their online news from portals such as GMX,, T-Online or They also read They do not suffer from information overload, nor do they show themselves to be news addicts. Rather, they are limited to a small, superficial excerpt from the news offering.
The 30-year-old "single-minded trendsetters" behave quite differently. Half of them are female, have graduated from high school or have studied and are employed. They are active in their free time and open to new technologies. They also have a wide range of interests, including social and political engagement. In addition to the portals mentioned, you also use professional news websites from magazines such as Spiegel Online or national newspapers such as, and public broadcasters such as ARD.
[...] The group of citizen journalists (and citizen paparazzi) is small, however. In 2009, the ARD / ZDF online study reported four percent each of Wikipedians and bloggers, six percent active video and ten percent photo community members. [...]

Nicola Döring, "Info-Junkies and Other Myths", in: message 2/2010 p.20ff.



Negative media effects

The list of publicly discussed negative media effects is long: We are talking about overweight and socially isolated children and adolescents who sit all day in front of the television, computer or game console. Some accuse the media of contributing to the disinformation or dumbing down of society. This accusation is scientifically untenable "Individual people deal with media too differently. Fears that the distorted media representation of reality lead to a shifted worldview with far-reaching consequences are to be taken more seriously:
  • Extremely slim models on television and in magazines probably do not trigger eating disorders in adolescents on their own, but they can very well reinforce an existing tendency.
  • The pornographic content, which is easy for children to find on the Internet, changes sexual ideas and practices and can reduce satisfaction with one's own sex life.
  • Violence in films and computer games can increase a corresponding tendency among young people or their tolerance towards violent behavior. In particular, the constant practice of violence as a problem-solving strategy, for example in first-person shooters, is considered questionable.
  • The "Werther Effect" "based on the eponymous novel by Goethe is particularly dramatic: after media reports of a spectacular suicide, there are isolated imitators who are mostly in a similar situation to the media" role model ".
  • The consumer worlds shown in advertising and entertainment media influence all of our consumer behavior. If that were not the case, German companies would not spend 30 billion euros a year on advertising. It is obvious that this consumption and throw-away behavior has negative ecological and social effects.

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Pros and cons of Facebook

The user

Marie, student, 14 years old: I started with Schüler-VZ, that was still in elementary school, at the beginning of the 6th grade. We just talked to each other, like on the phone, only in writing. My mother looked at what photos I put in. She never wanted me to be recognized.
At some point, more and more friends switched to Facebook. I just had to go with them. My parents complained that Facebook was so insecure. But I'm not going to write my address in there! And in my photos I look completely normal, like on the street. I go to Facebook every day. If we are away and that is not possible, I get angry. I write to friends and post photos. It's much faster than email. You can also talk to several people at the same time. If I recognize someone on someone else's wall, then I add them.
I only have friends on Facebook that I really know or from stories. If I find a musician or a band on Facebook that I like, I can click that I like them. "74 718 people like that" is what Werder Bremen, my favorite football club, says.

The refuser
Amrai Coen, journalist, 23 years old: Why am I not on Facebook? Because I don't want to know what color my cousin's underpants are, who's watching a bad movie tonight or who's currently in Mallorca. "Facebook is a Stasi on a voluntary basis," a cabaret artist once said, "and it's true.
"Explaining Facebook to you is like explaining color to a blind person," a friend told me yesterday. No matter if strangers at parties or friends "many feel attacked when I say that I am not on Facebook. They then have to explain to me what is great about it:" You will meet people again with whom you would otherwise no longer have contact . "Anne from elementary school? Paul from rugby? I don't want to have any contact with these people! I'm not interested in them, they would be a waste of time. The Internet steals many hours from me every day. I am overwhelmed with messages, SMS, e-mails I couldn't stand any more trash on Facebook.
"Life without Facebook is like life without a mobile phone" "I hear that once a week. Even my mother has an account. I'm oldschool, so what? Have friends, update the status, add someone, the" I like "button" I don't want to use these words, I find them gross.

Frankfurter Rundschau from November 17, 2010



There are confirmatory data for many media effects. However, one should warn against simple attribution of guilt. Because all studies show one thing: media alone can at best strengthen existing attitudes or tendencies. They are out of the question as the sole trigger. Individual characteristics and social phenomena such as permanent frustration, excessive demands, feelings of loneliness and a difficult family or social environment are far more important.

Source text

Digital natives

[...] Laura (all names of the young people changed by the editorial staff) [...] is twelve years old. She belongs to the generation of digital natives, the digital natives: young people who grow up with the Internet. To whom it seems natural that everyone has a cell phone, that they read newspapers, if at all, on the screen and google for the solutions to their homework. The majority of these young Internet users are members of a social network, StudiVZ, MySpace or Facebook. Ten, twelve or fourteen year olds move around the net as naturally as they do in the school yard. It's another exciting space that you can explore all by yourself, a parallel universe where you feel like you're among yourself. And in which they are mostly on their own.

With 1.9 million users, Jappy is one of the smaller social networks, but the platform is especially popular with younger users. Many of Laura's friends have created a profile there. Also Johanna, Laura's best friend. She is 13 years old and has been a member for almost two years. [...] The happy network is structured like a contact exchange. The start page already refers to profiles of other users, sorted by age and gender. Johanna's profile provides information about her hobbies, hair color and figure. It is visible to everyone. She has uploaded several photos to her page: Johanna in a bikini on the beach, Johanna's little brother in the garden and the pictures from the last school trip. She's having a lot of fun, says Johanna, it's a great place to pass the time. That's exactly the business principle. The longer users stay, the more interesting they are to Jappy's advertisers; This is how the company earns its money. That is why it rewards users for the time they spend online "with" experience points "(EPs). Those with a lot of points receive a higher" rank ", and those with a high rank receive" credits ", a virtual one, every week Currency for which users can buy "gifts" for their online friends, digital cuddly toys or flashing hearts. Whoever has the highest rank and the most expensive gifts, is the greatest. [...]
Sometimes, however, there is also this strange news, says Johanna. Stranger men then wrote "weird stuff" for her, for example about her bikini photo. This also happens to her friends from time to time. Cyber-grooming is the technical term for sexual pick-up on the Internet [...]. A self-experiment shows how widespread grooming is: Anyone who registers with Jappy as a 14-year-old girl will be confronted with clear inquiries within a few hours. Men around 40 ask about sexual preferences, suggest phone calls, or send nude photos.
And these are not isolated cases. A large number of 9 to 16 year olds have already had unpleasant experiences on the Internet, a recently published EU study (EU Kids Online) shows: They are confronted with pornography, with unwanted sexual messages and images, with cyberbullying or the Abuse of personal data. And exactly on the pages that are designed in such a way that children spend as much time as possible there.
[...] Many young people have similarly disturbing experiences with Internet bullying. Laura's friend Simon still remembers the time when he took the side of a friend in the community and was insulted by a whole group on the net. There were then pictures with scenes of violence on his profile page and expressions that he would rather not repeat. "I have a lot of people on my block list," he laughs today.
Teachers and parents rarely notice any of this: According to an EU study, over half of the parents of those children who have already received hurtful or sexual online messages were unaware of it. The digital natives learn early on that they are completely on their own. Her parents and teachers belong to a generation that did not grow up with computers and the Internet. They often lack even basic information about the latest online developments and how children behave online.
[...] Many parents [...] only sporadically find out where exactly the young people are on the Internet and what they are doing there. In doing so, however, they are shifting responsibility for their online business to the Internet children. Parents may not even know that they could be overwhelmed by the fact that abstract terms such as data protection or privacy mean little to them. Or they don't make it clear to themselves. And so the digital natives click their way through the net, collect flashing hearts, receive mail from strange men and sometimes attack each other. In the afternoon at two-thirty in German children's rooms.

Friederike Schröter, "Alone on the virtual playground", in: Die Zeit No. 47 from November 18, 2010



klicksafe tips for young people

You think the Internet is a damn great thing, but sometimes you don't know how to cope with the wealth of information and opportunities that the WWW has to offer? In addition, you are sometimes confused about how much you chat and Forums about you? And you've seen things on the Internet that worried you? We have put together a few tips on these and other topics that will make you a really capable network specialist! Your klicksafe team
  1. Never meet alone with people you have met in chat, in a social community or via instant messenger and have never seen before. You just have no way of knowing who the person in front of the other screen is that you are in contact with. The 13-year-old Lisa can actually be the 60-year-old Dietmar or the 17-year-old Alex. If you want to meet a stranger, always bring an adult with you. Further information is available at www.chatten-ohne-!
  2. Be fair on the Internet. It is not okay to offend someone by spreading false or nasty things about them in forums, chats, or text messages. Even embarrassing or brutal films that are recorded on mobile phones and posted on video portals such as YouTube are anything but funny. If you have ever experienced or noticed something like this yourself "the technical term for this is" cyberbullying "", then dare to talk to someone (e.g. your parents, teachers, ") about it. You also have the option of filing an advertisement, Because it is a punishable offense to target other people. You can find information material on cyberbullying at
  3. Never give your personal data (name, address, telephone number, photos or passwords) on the Internet. Often you don't know what will happen to them. For example, if you have a profile in a community such as B. want to set up schülerVZ, then set the profile in any case so that only your friends can view it. Important: Always pay attention to what you reveal about yourself in the global network. You should also let your parents know that you are a member of a social community. There are also special information pages for your parents on such portals
  4. Be suspicious of allegations you find on the internet; anyone can post something on the internet and it doesn't always have to be correct. Often you don't see where the information comes from or who posted it. The largest and most popular online reference work provides a lot of interesting information, but it is also critical here. It often helps to compare information on the Internet with books on the same subject. Only then can you be sure that the information is true and that you can use it for school, for example. You can find good search engines and links at
  5. Internet offers that look great and free of charge can cost a lot of money. Imagine you've discovered a website on the Internet with great hits, displays or ringtones for your cell phone. Suddenly you should enter your cell phone number. Be careful here: you often don't see the price because it's written somewhere very small. You also have to be careful with subscriptions to homework pages and, if possible, bring in an adult.
  6. Never open emails and attachments if you don't know who they came from or what their contents are. The best thing to do is delete them immediately. So-called spam mails that are sent to you by strangers because they have found your e-mail address somewhere on the net can contain problematic content: They want to induce you to buy a product, spy on your personal data or they contain viruses, that damage your computer.
  7. . Free downloading of music and films is often not allowed, in the CD business you have to pay for the latest record and legal download portals such as B. iTunes, musicload, etc. on the Internet cost money. So if you come across a free offer, first of all be suspicious, because owning illegally acquired music, films, etc. is a criminal offense. You can find out why it is allowed to copy your favorite CD for a friend, but it is forbidden to add the same music to a film and put it online, or which download portals are ok, on the website
  8. So if you want to post photos or videos that show other people in online communities or on video portals, ask them beforehand whether you are allowed to do so. Everyone has a "right to their own picture", which means that their photo can only be published with their permission. The same applies to protected "content" (more precisely: works by others, such as pieces of music, films, texts, graphics and much more). If you just use them forbidden, it can get really expensive. More information at
  9. If something seems strange to you while surfing, e.g. For example, if you come across a page on the Internet with images and text that scares you or makes you uncomfortable, then please speak to an adult you trust and show him the pages. This can then initiate further steps by reporting such pages to the Internet complaints office or