Media performance in times of Google, Facebook & Co. – Journalistic professional standards vs. adaptation to platform logic

Media performance, especially in the context of political news coverage, has always been one of the central normative requirements for journalism and the media. Safeguarding media performance is intended to provide citizens with sufficient information and ensure a functioning democracy. In the light of digitization and the resulting increase in the supply of free journalistic articles, fears were growing that the resulting lack of financial resources and a stronger orientation towards the interests of the audience would lower the standards of media performance.

These fears apply even more strongly to social media such as Facebook. A high visibility of content is central here. However, this is controlled by algorithms, largely depending on user interaction. An adaptation to the so-called "media logic" and thus to the interests of the audience on these platforms therefore seems necessary. However, it has not yet been sufficiently clarified whether this results in lower quality and leads to an increasing softening of content - with regard to the selection of topics and the way how news is presented.

In addition to social media, search engines are also increasingly in the focus of media performance research. They also function as intermediaries, i.e. they play a central role in filtering and curating journalistic content and thus play a decisive role in determining the media performance with which users are confronted. In the course of the discussions about the lack of transparency of the algorithms and fears of discrimination against certain brands, the question arises as to how diverse content selected and placed particularly prominently on the search engine result pages is.

Although there have been isolated studies on the issues mentioned so far, a comprehensive evaluation of media performance in the digital context and especially in the context of platforms is still pending. The cumulative doctoral project will therefore address precisely these questions in various studies.

Project staff:
Miriam Steiner M.A.