On behalf of the ECPMF and the JX Fund, the survey institute forsa examined the media usage behavior of Ukrainian refugees for the first time. Social media and messenger services are used most frequently, especially Telegram and YouTube. Among non-Ukrainian media, Deutsche Welle and the BBC are the most popular.
Ukrainian refugees in Germany most frequently use social media or messenger services to obtain information, above all Telegram (78%), WhatsApp (68%) and YouTube (63%). The majority of respondents (57%) also regularly use online news portals or, at least occasionally, apps from newspapers, TV or radio stations (44%), although they almost exclusively (85%) use free services.
Most Ukrainians (62%) state that they have not changed their information behavior since moving to Germany. However, a third have since obtained additional information via other media than before. The most frequently cited reason for this is an interest in diverse perspectives and different sources.
When it comes to the use of traditional media, the private TV channel 1+1 (10 per cent) is in the lead among Ukrainian speakers, Deutsche Welle (23 per cent) among German speakers, and the BBC (29 per cent) among speakers of other languages. In the credibility ranking, Deutsche Welle (66 per cent) is ahead of Ukrayinska Pravda (61 per cent) and the BBC (60 per cent).
More than three quarters of respondents (78%) feel that they are best informed about events in Ukraine through personal contacts and conversations. Only a third (34%) feel cut off from events in Ukraine since fleeing to Germany.
The three topics that Ukrainian refugees most frequently inform themselves about are the war in Ukraine (86 per cent), current political events in the country (68 per cent), and topics related to their stay in Germany (55 per cent). A majority of 65 per cent think it is right that journalists are not allowed to report on everything they learn during a war.
“The survey shows for the first time how Ukrainian refugees in Germany obtain information and the paramount importance of direct, personal communication. Messenger services are an important source, also with their thematic groups and channels,” says Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director of the European Centre for Media and Press Freedom (ECPMF). “The positive assessment of Deutsche Welle is also remarkable; it shows the recognition and reputation of the brand.” According to Kinkel, the survey is intended to help better understand the information needs of Ukrainian refugees in Germany – also to help Ukrainian (exile) media target their audience.
“It is significant that the majority of respondents stated that they had not changed their information behaviour after their war-related flight,” says Penelope Winterhager, Managing Director of the JX Fund. “Most refugees continue to inform themselves via Ukrainian-language media that report from within the country. This shows that the Ukrainian media system continues to function despite the difficulties caused by the war.”
As part of the study, a total of 508 people aged 18 and over who had fled to Germany from Ukraine were surveyed using a systematic procedure. The survey was conducted from 1 April to 17 July 2023 using an online survey. Respondents had the option of answering the questions in Ukrainian or Russian.
The survey was made possible with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the Hannah Arendt Initiative.