How media users look at the world: news repertoires of the Swiss and their perception of topics

The question of how media users perceive the world and what image they have of the world is investigated with a long-term study. The empirical analysis dates back to 2009 and examines the media us of the population in Switzerland once a year. The study  links  the patterns of media use with data on the most important topics in the Swiss media.

Based on data on the use of media (more than 27,000 respondents overall; more than 3,000 every year), so-called news repertoires were developed. News repertoires capture 1) which media a person uses and how a person combines his or her use of different media and 2) how intensively a person uses media outlets for informational purposes. From the individual news repertoires, six repertoire types can be aggregated.

The repertoire types "Homeland Oriented", "Old World Boulevard" and "Old World & Online" are strongly related to the traditional media world, with the latter being the one with the largest opening to the new, digitized media world among these three types. The repertoire type of the "Intensive Users" is anchored in both worlds, using traditional and online news extensively. The repertoire types of "Global Surfers" and "News-Deprived" are most strongly represented in the new media world.

This study shows that the share of these two last types have seen a massive increase in recent years. "Global Surfers" and "News-Deprived" together by now represent the majority of the population. This is a cause of concern, because for these two news repertoire types, media with quality below average are the main source of information.

Graph. 1: Newsrepertoires
Graph. 1: Newsrepertoires
Diagram 1: Repertoire types – change compared with 2009

The diagram shows the proportion of the resident Swiss population associated with the individual repertoire types in 2009 (blue columns) and 2016 (red columns).

The repertoire of the "News-Deprived" is the largest group. It consists of users who consume professionally produced news far less often than other user groups; if they do use news, it is typically news from media of poor quality. Young women under the age of 30 are represented above average in this news repertoire type.

Graph. 2: Newsrepertoires
Graph. 2: Newsrepertoires
Diagram 2: News-deprived: Perception of topics

The diagram shows which topics the News-deprived perceived the most strongly am (blue bars) and at least (red bars)

The different news repertoires and the consumed news quality have an influence on the topics that media users  perceive. The "Global Surfers", above all, prefer international topics. As a consequence, the Swiss media arena is less important to them.

The "news-deprived" people are mainly concerned with episodes and events which focus on threatening scenarios such as environmental disasters, terrorist attacks etc. The counterpole is formed by the "Intensive Users". Because they broadly use high-quality news, people from this repertoire type perceive a wider range of topics  and are thus able to better contextualize complex  interactions between topics.

Authors: Jörg Schneider, Mark Eisenegger

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