News Consumption and Trust in Online and Social Media: An In-depth Qualitative Study of Young Adults in Austria

Uta Russmann, Andreas Hess


Current surveys such as the Reuters Digital News Report 2018 show that trust in the media is at an all-time low in Austria. Among those between 18 and 24 years of age, more people distrust news than trust it. The aim of this study is to analyze young adults’ news consumption and trust in media in Austria through personal semistructured qualitative interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of their news consumption and trust in media channels, sources, and content. The 35 interviews with young adults aged 18–25 years reveal that traditional media channels are the most trusted. Despite widespread consensus that more dubious content is circulated on social media, the content from these channels is generally not considered problematic. Journalists, as identifiable sources of news, are largely irrelevant in orienting the information behaviors of this user group, with peers being more important influencers and providers of (links to) news. These findings highlight a lack of critical engagement and raise questions about the efficacy of current education on media literacy.



trust in (news) media, mass media, social media, young adults, news consumption, semistructured interviews

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