Media consumers sensitive to the threat of fake news – Expat Guide to Switzerland


The Covid-19 pandemic has made media consumers more sensitive to the dangers of false or misleading information, according to a survey of the Swiss media landscape.

The latest edition of the Annual Media Quality Yearbook of the fög research institute at the University of Zurich revealed that the demand for quality journalism has increased due to the pandemic.

Analyzing some 5,400 responses to two surveys of media consumers, the report found that almost half of those polled saw fake news as a serious problem.

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

In contrast, professional media have a better reputation, with just 13.8% of respondents having problems with these channels – while 15.8% expressed concern about official state news.

“Our study clearly shows that an intact system of professional news media, including public media, is absolutely essential for the resilience of Swiss society to disinformation,” the report states.

While the pandemic appears to have cemented confidence in professional journalism over other sources of information, it has also threatened the survival of some media companies by slashing advertising revenue.

“The intensification of the economic crisis in journalism is an unfavorable development,” say the authors of the report. “Journalism plays an extremely important role for society in times of crisis. It contributes to an informed population 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 larger selection of official statistics, the researchers note. But given that Covid-19 affects all levels of society, journalists could still do a better job of representing the views and opinions of a more diverse range of people.

Women could also be better represented by the media in all fields, the report concludes. Analyzing 18,695 articles from 60 media outlets, the “sobering” conclusion is that women remain “seriously under-represented”.

SWI swissinfo.ch was included for the first time in the Media Quality Yearbook, obtaining a relatively credible quality score of 7.2.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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