ABOUT THE PROJECT
Journalism Research Lab is the first center in Croatia and the region dedicated to, on the one hand, scientific research in the field of journalism studies that explores changes and issues in journalistic and newsroom practices, along with the sustainability of various journalistic practices; and on the other hand, production and testing of innovative and experimental journalistic content. It creates new media forms and identifies examples of good practice in shaping information content, which can enhance the quality, interestingness, and credibility of the media.
It is inspired by innovative educational and scientific-research programs in so-called journalism/future labs, either in the form of formal undergraduate and graduate education, or of journalistic trainings, especially in the United States (Knight Lab, Cronkite News Lab, Nieman Lab at Harvard University, and others), that want to improve the quality of journalism and offer solutions for newsrooms through the culture of experimentation and innovation.
The Journalism Research Lab focuses on production of quality journalistic content which follows the highest postulates of the journalistic profession, but also facilitates better audience engagement and ultimately forms a more active and trustworthy relationship between citizens and media outlets. In this way, it is a place of development of digital journalism ideas and practices that puts technological innovation into the service of democratic political communication between citizens and authorities through digital media. It develops a repository of innovative solutions, but also produces recommendations and guidelines on how specific media can improve their content and practices, dependent on their audiences and goals.
The makers of this content are journalism students at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb. As part of a designated undergraduate module, but also the Television pathway on the same level, students experiment with different multimedia forms, formats, and platforms. The technical and creative support is provided by the Student Television (Televizija Student) and student newspaper and web portal Global, which are both part of the faculty.
Furthermore, the Journalism Research Lab cooperates with economic subjects where journalistic professional traineeships are held and works together with education centers in media companies. It also plans to collaborate with similar centers at other academic institutions in the EU through Erasmus+ and similar projects.
The audience expects better and higher quality media content. They want the media to describe the background of the story and to cover the topics continuously and more thoroughly. In general, they don’t trust the media and consequently they are not satisfied with the content that they consume in the media on a daily basis, and therefore part of the audience simply avoids news. Moreover, it can be concluded that the negative attitude towards politics and the political institutions is reflected in the attitude of the audience towards the media. Citizens who do not trust politicians do not trust journalists either – which indicates that they are perceived by the public as being a part of the same media-political elite.
Although the research is carried out in Croatia, in many aspects the results also reflect the public opinion in the other countries in the region. Speaking of trust in professions, journalists are somewhere in the middle of our ranking of the professions that we offered. To speak more precisely, they are at the lower part of the ranking list. At the bottom – politicians!
When it comes to how Croatian citizens are keeping informed, results show that they are getting news via television, followed by internet portals, social media, radio, daily newspapers and magazines. However, when it comes to young people (18-22) and their news habits, their first choice for getting information are internet portals and social media. But when asked – which media they trust more – television and radio stand better. They also point out that they encounter fake news stories – or stories that they believe misrepresent reality – predominantly on social media and internet portals.
Moreover, the main reason why citizens avoid the news – either consciously or unconsciously – is because they feel that they are too negative and cause tension and conflict in their society, or they cover topics they personally find neither relevant nor interesting. Also, citizens expect the news media to report on topics that they personally find relatable and worthy.
Opinions on media coverage of COVID-19 crisis are divided. While one part of the respondents think the media exaggerated in describing the seriousness of the crisis and that contributed in creating confusion in the public, others think the media helped them better understand the crisis and provided them with information how to behave in the COVID-19 crisis.
The results shows quite a polarisation among respondents. The attitude towards the media and towards politics, shapes citizens’ attitude towards pandemic.Those who believe that COVID-19 is a threat and a danger, trust journalists and news media in general, have faith in political participation, have positive relation towards politics and want more economic and social protection from the state. On the other hand, people who believe that COVID-19 is a hoax are those do not trust the news, do not have trust in journalists, are less informed, are prone to news avoidance, live in rural areas and are opposed to state interference in the economy.
Most of the findings can be educational for the media in the region. There are some me recoomendations for the media outlets – what they should do or change to be more interesting to the audience. The most respondents answer – provide more context to a story and focus on follow-ups. Although the young audiences want shorter and multimedia digital storytelling, new forms and use of digital tools, they also answer that they lack in-depth stories, background and follow up stories.
The media outlets should look for new audiences, especially young. The copy paste journalism will not attract new audiences and will not regain the trust in journalism profession. Also, that kind of job will not attract young people to chose journalist profession.
You can download full PDF presentation here:
Perišin, T., Henjak, A., Kanižaj, I. Kovačević, P., Lechpammer, S. iOblak,D. (2021). Istraživanje percepcije javnosti o medijima i medijskom sadržaju – Što publika želi?. JOURLAB – Istraživački novinarski laboratorij. Fakultet političkih znanosti. https://zagrebnewslab.eu/jourlab/sto-publika-zeli/