Designing an accessible information interface for the 12,000+ entries of the media database, for a specialist and non-specialist audiences.
An interactive platform that provides information on companies' shareholdings including television, radio, press, and online media activities.
How can the state guarantee a diversity of opinion in a democratic society regarding media, including tv, radio, press and online media?
The Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK) has taken on this complicated task in Germany. It provides ongoing information on the status and development of concentration in the media sector. Therefore, the media stations' legal relationships are recorded in the media database.
We were asked to shed light on the complex entanglements of all of the 12.000+ entries and thereby prevent undetected influence. The challenge was to design and develop an information interface that provides a well structured and visual access to the data.
We designed an interactive platform that allows visual access to the vast database without losing the overview, placing the necessary information on the spot. The members of KEK can visually explore all actors of the media market such as companies or media offers and their interrelations in the interface.
We structured the entries in profiles containing information about the type of media, date of licensing, authorized representatives, and its relations to other institutional players.
Our interactive network visualization allows an overview of the complex entanglements and reveals who can potentially shape the public opinion.
We structured the platform's information architecture on the profiles of the various entries. The content of a profile depends on its type of media.
There are four different types: TV, Radio, Press and Online.
Additionally, there are profiles for companies. Several sections divide the content into thematic focuses. Information is listed either in fact sheets or as a short paragraph of text, depending on how self-explanatory it is.
Our design highlights the relation between media and operating company by displaying the two profiles underneath each other. This way, users have the opportunity to instantly explore the subsequent company structures.
The foremost objective for democratic opinion making is to expose all influences. Therefore the focus is on making complex dependencies between the actors comprehensible. The network representation is a powerful element to reveal these dependencies:
It creates an awareness of how complex the structures are
It allows reasonable and accessible visual access to media companies and their relations
Several interactive features of the graph support users in deciphering the entanglements, i.e. the path from one actor to the company highlights when hovering.
The nodes of the graph and the listed media offerings can be used to navigate exploratively from one actor to the next, i.e., to visit one profile after the other. This dynamic approach supports KEK and the public in developing a mental map of actors in the media market.
Users can browse the platform in multiple ways. The most straightforward one is via the search mask. Each entry name, e.g. the tv channel “3Sat” or company “Burda GmbH”, is the central search condition. Additionally, the users can interact with filters to retrain information such as profile type, broadcasting system, broadcasting area, or broadcasting status.
Another browsing feature dedicated to expert users is the Quick Search. It allows jumping between profiles that are not connected, e.g. when regularly checking developments of particularly interesting institutional players.
Diversity of opinion within the media landscape is essential for democracy. At the same time, the legal connections between the individual players in this media landscape are often very intricate and complex. Keeping track of who can influence whom thus becomes a central task. Thanks to our work, the media institutions no longer have only a static data set at their disposal but a daily updated and interactive platform. Our solution enables the media institutions to penetrate this enormous complexity in the best possible way, identify influences and thus maintain the diversity of opinion.
An initiative of Die Medienanstalten (umbrella brand of the 14 Media Authorities in Germany) and the Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK).
Scientific supervision by Dr. Simon Berghofer and Michael Petri.