News media trustworthy than social media
20 Sep 2017 - 2:21
By Fazeena Saleem / The Peninsula
The trust of readers and viewers remains high on news media in the Middle East and less on social media according to the fifth annual survey of media use and public opinion by Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).
Among the respondents of the study ‘Media Use in the Middle East 2017: A Seven Nation Survey’ two-thirds (66 percent) trust mass media, but fewer than half ( 47 percent) trust news they get via social media.
The study results were released yesterday at the NU-Q campus in the Education City. It examines patterns of news use, perceptions of news bias, and attitudes toward free speech in seven countries as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia, and Egypt. Some questions were replicated in the United States for context and comparison. Media Use in the Middle East survey was first conducted in 2012/2013 and it is the only one of its kind in the region and one of the few such efforts in the world.
Everette E Dennis, Dean and CEO of NU-Q, said, “The big thing about it is that it’s really a massive study; several subjects were covered in seven countries involving varies people and languages…..At a challenging time in the region and around the world, we offer these findings as impartial data for use in much-needed, considered discussion and understanding of the current media environment.”
Findings of Media Use in the Middle East 2017 reflect nationally representative samples of over one thousand respondents in each country, 7,196 in total.
Key findings from the study include, Arab nationals (66 percent) are twice as likely as Americans (32 percent) to trust mass media. Two-thirds (65 percent) of Facebook users get news on that platform.
Two-thirds trust media from their own country (66 percent), but only half trust news from other Arab countries (52 percent). Americans are more likely than Arab nationals to believe that news is biased against the Arab world. Among the survey respondents, 33 percent Arab nationals think international news is biased against the Arab world, 43 percent of Americans think the same. Some 45 percent of the Arab respondents to the survey think people should be able to publicly criticize the government’s policies. In comparing this year’s findings to the previous four years, the survey has shown a rise in internet access in every country in the region.
While, social media platforms once dominated by Facebook with up to 90 percent penetration has now reduced to 74 percent, Twitter fell from 47 percent to 24 percent, while WhatsApp has 80 percent penetration in 2017 and Instagram has grown from 6 percent to 39 percent penetration among internet users. According to the survey among social media users, 28 percent of the WhatsApp users get news on the platform, 40 percent from the Facebook, 25 percent from Youtube, 13 percent from Instagram, eight percent from snapchat and 14 percent from Twitter.