It can be observed again in the online discourses on the RBB scandal: ignorance and prejudice dominate the debates in social media. Many have an opinion, few know what we are talking about when it comes to the function and structure of public service broadcasting.
A research group from the Universities of Zurich and Oxford led by communication scientist Anne Schulz has now published a study on the dissemination of knowledge about journalistic news production and the handling of news sources in social media. The group analyzed survey data from over 10,000 people in the UK, US, Germany, Spain and Sweden. In Germany, around 40 percent of respondents could not say which of the four media (two TV channels and two newspapers) is fee-financed. About 70 percent of those surveyed did not know that news and updates in the Facebook chronicle are selected by algorithms, i.e. by machines.
More interesting than the values are the connections between this (lack of) media knowledge and the use of social media as a source of news. According to this, respondents with little media knowledge in particular used social media as the only source of information. They were less interested in the editorial background and the origin of the news and more in links and comments. The more respondents knew about professional news production, the more likely they were to use social media as one source among many. The journalistic origin (the medium, the source) of the message was more important to them than high popularity in social media.
Against this background, it is obvious that we need more reporting on journalistic news production in our media system.