German trust in newspapers soars to record level

It is hard to believe, given that the Nazi term "Lügenpresse" has recently been re-popularized by the far right, but the media has never been as trusted in Germany as now, a new study claims.

German trust in newspapers soars to record level
Photo: DPA

Every Monday in Dresden, angry demonstrators march for the anti-Islam movement Pegida, holding up signs denouncing the mainstream media as the Lügenpresse (lying press) for its alleged covering up of crimes committed by immigrants.

The term Lügenpresse was a favourite description of Hitler’s propagandist Joseph Goebbels for the non-German press.

But an annual study conducted by the University of Würzburg last week shows that German trust in the media actually went up sharply in 2016.

A total of 55.7 percent of respondents said they trust the print press, a drastic rise on the 45.7 percent of respondents who gave that response in 2015, and the highest level of trust since the survey was first conducted in 2000.

On the other hand, 38.8 percent of Germans still say they do not trust the news they receive from the print press.

Graph shows public trust in the press since the year 2000. Source: the University of Würzburg
Germans trust radio most as the place to get reliable news, with 67.8 percent saying you can believe what you hear on the airwaves. This score was an increase of about 7 percent on 2015 and was also a record since the study began.

Meanwhile 60.5 percent of people said that television is a trustworthy source of news, a rise of 5 percent on the previous year.

Professor Kim Otto, the academic in media studies who led the study, said that the results showed that people had more of an appreciation for the value of established media in an age of fake news reports being spread through social media.

He added that the jailing of journalists in Turkey has also added to the appreciation Germans have for their free press.

The report showed that those between the ages of 25 and 34 were least likely to trust the print press, with only one in two giving newspapers the thumbs up. Two-thirds of those over 75 said they believed what they read in the paper.

There was also a clear gap between residents of former West Germany and the formerly socialist East, where the Pegida movement is based.

While 59 percent of those in the west said they trust the newspapers, only 42 percent of residents of the east agreed.

But the report’s authors note a surprising rise in the amount of people who consider themselves as right-wing saying they trust the press, from 33 percent in 2015 to 51 percent last year.

Trust from the right wing in television and radio also increased markedly.

With DPA

SEE ALSO: German press rules on mentioning criminal's ethnicity changed