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How Corona is changing news reading behavior

Socially, economically, politically and also in tech, new trends have been established since 2020, old things were no longer possible in the same way, and had to be reconsidered. A commentary by our CEO David Böhm on the impact of Covid-19 on an industry that couldn't have been more important during the pandemic: News.


Probably one of the most frequently asked questions at present: What will remain of our new habits when the pandemic is over one day? Will we continue to meet with friends in video calls? Will we travel less for work than we used to and continue to hold many meetings online? Will online shopping remain the norm? All valid questions. Guesses can be made, but we can't really assess the long-term impact of the Corona crisis yet. In some areas, it has brought serious changes and cuts to our daily lives. In others, it has massively accelerated trends that were already there. Video calls were a commonly used means of efficiently handling quick coordination with more distant people even before the crisis. But only for a small segment of the population. Like a wildfire, video calling spread to the population at large in the spring of 2020. The only question since then has been, what do we use? Zoom, Teams, Skype, Whereby, - let's face it, we know them all.




The new news reading behavior


Similarly, a sudden need to be informed has come over us. News about Corona, as up to date as possible: It felt like within a few days all the news was exclusively related to Corona. And the entire population wanted to know everything. From state television, from the live press conferences, from the websites of the newspaper publishers and, of course, all the rumors from Facebook, Whatsapp and all the other social channels. The main thing was to get to it first, and right away news was shared in friend groups. You could sum this up as an enthusiasm for a personally extremely relevant topic. In this case, the actual enthusiasm is finite, but no one was left cold about Corona in the first weeks of the pandemic. Everything had to happen quickly; the latest information was like a status symbol. Many, many sources were followed. Newspapers and TV stations combined with all social media sources. And everything digital - precisely because news spread "just in time" and was already outdated the next day. The difficulty: to distinguish where something comes from, what is believed, what is true, what is rumor, what is fake news or manipulation? It was an extreme situation. And this news behavior was a phenomenon that could only assume these dimensions in an extreme situation. But the extreme situation only reinforced and thus more clearly demonstrated what is already normal today:

  • People inform themselves digitally.

  • They use various digital devices to do so.

  • They combine classic media and social media sources.

  • They want important information first, and are proud when they can they can share it first.

  • They read many different news sources on the same topic.

  • They definitely don't want to miss anything important.

  • They have topics, for which they have an increased interest in the short or long term, are often enthusiastic about them, and where the news demand is significantly higher than for other, general topics.

None of this will disappear after the pandemic. This news behavior is contemporary, it is also logically understandable, and it is already learned normality that will continue to increase. The question is, who makes the best offer for these user needs. Who creates the product that addresses these needs and offers users the best experience? Who is capable of developing such an offer? The classic newspaper publisher now says: We are! We are already in a great position digitally, and the figures are clearly pointing upwards. All users are saying: that will probably be Facebook, Google, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.



My clear thesis: it won't be the individual newspaper publisher. It is simply not possible to deliver this service and this experience on the basis of a single medium, and it is also complete nonsense, both technically and financially. Logical would be Google and Facebook. And the industry is also blithely heading for even greater dependence on these players. In fact, however, we will be launching our own solution in Europe. We will present it in the spring, in a few weeks.


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