The Platformization of the Digital News Ecosystem and its Consequences for Journalism, Users and Governance

With the platformization of the news ecosystem, i.e. the increasing creation, distribution and reception of news with the help of and via information intermediaries, media and journalism are once again in the midst of a structural change. Information intermediaries such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram not only influence which content users discover. Even more, their algorithmic logic is shaping journalistic logic, i.e. professional norms and standards. This threatens the autonomy of journalism.

In a first step, the cumulative PhD project therefore systematizes the conditions and consequences of platformization from an institutional perspective. Special consideration is given to the role and distribution of power as a means of enforcing interests and rules.

Interacting with the changing digital offer, the news consumption experience in particular of younger people is becoming more mobile, personalized, ephemeral, and decontextualized. This is accompanied by the fear that users will have increasing difficulty recognizing news as an information asset in its own right and discriminating between journalistic sources and non-journalistic sources (such as advertising, disinformation, PR, and entertainment). Research has largely neglected when users understand a piece of information as news. However, the conceptual understanding of news has implications for the legitimacy of journalism and the precision of usage research. Therefore, in a second step, the doctoral project is dedicated to the understanding of news and its factors from the user's perspective.

Last but not least, digitization and platformization change information processing processes. In a third step, the acquisition of source and factual knowledge in the digital context will be investigated. This also raises the question of what standards can be formulated for the social relevance of knowledge.

Implications for media governance are always central in addressing these issues. What can and should a contemporary and effective regulation of journalism, media and platforms look like? Here, too, the user perspective guides the question of the need for and scope of regulatory intervention.

Project staff:
Pascal Schneiders M.A.