Survey shows which channels were trusted for news of the Iraq war

MyCustomer.com
Share this content

A most interesting difference in the way US and UK internet users got their news about the war in Iraq emerged last week from a UK survey of Internet users. In the UK, a fairly unexceptional picture emerges. Television (53%) emerged as by far the most mentioned news source in this context, followed by the internet (20%), radio (15%) and national daily newspapers (10.4%). Other information sources received negligible mentions. The picture in the US was significantly different. There, the internet emerged as the pre-eminent main news source (54%), far ahead of television (24%), radio (13%) and daily newspapers (5%).

As you know, we’re always interested in how individual behaviour is changing (see last week’s editorial, Why corporations are failing individuals, and Incorporating the customer’s needs into your CRM programme), so this looks like something worth exploring further.

First, let’s get the various caveats out of the way. The survey was undertaken by the British Life and Internet Project who are undertaking a series of surveys aimed at understanding Internet usage better (see Internet reduces marketing effectiveness for the results of another of their surveys). The survey population comes from an email database, with a significant population from The Independent (a UK ‘quality daily’ newspaper) which may skew the results, as may the fact that all survey respondents (1909 from the UK, and 267 from the USA, with responses being gathered for 10 days from the 8th April) are self-selecting and already Internet users. You can find the full survey, with all reservations at www.britishlifeproject.co.uk.

Let’s look at some of the detailed results of the survey. First, how does the use of various channels as the main source of news of the wider world vary between the US and the UK. The following table illustrates this:

Channel (wider world): UK US
Television 37% 16%
Radio 22% 13%
National Newspaper 23% 12%
Internet 15% 51%
This shows a quite staggering difference between the US and UK, with US conventional channels (TV, radio, newspapers) being used far less than one might expect. Either there is a fairly deep distrust of conventional media in the US, or this particular sample (responding to a UK internet survey) is particularly dedicated to the Internet. It would also be very interesting to know which Internet channels they are using for their news. Perhaps US members of the CRM-Forum could let us know which Internet news sites they use, by adding a comment to this editorial. The UK picture presents a much more conventional result, with TV coming well in front, and newspapers and radio virtually joint equal in second place.

Which channels do people use for local news? The table below shows a much less dramatic picture:

Channel (Local news): UK US
Television 24% 17%
Radio 8% 17%
National Newspaper 47% 44%
Internet 6% 13%
Here, both UK and US show a broadly similar picture, with local daily newspapers being by far the most popular source of local news. Local television in the US is much weaker than in the UK, and local radio much stronger, with the Internet being the least popular channel of all, though significantly higher in the US than in the UK.

So, now we’ve got a general picture of how different channels are used, where did the survey population get their news of the Iraq war? The following table shows the raw results:

Channel (Iraq war): UK US
Television 53% 24%
Radio 15% 13%
National Newspaper 10.4% 5%
Internet 20% 54%
There are a number of interesting facts here. In both countries, compared with conventional use of channels for ‘wider world’ news, the use of the Internet for news of the Iraq war has grown (UK by 25%, and US – from a much higher base – by 6%).
There is again, a significant difference between the US and UK use (and trust??) of television and in both countries the use of national newspapers is significantly lower than one might expect. Of course, the immediacy of television reporting of the war, compared with newspaper reporting, will probably have contributed significantly to this. Nevertheless, if you are a newspaper owner, perhaps you should be worried.

Another fact that emerges is the difference in the use of television for news of the war in both countries. For the UK respondents, we have a breakdown of the actual channels used, which may help clarify matters. The following table shows the top ten specific television news broadcasts that were used at least once by respondents in the first two weeks of the war:

TV News broadcast: UK
BBC news at 9/10pm 80%
BBC 6 o’clock news 66%
Channel 4 news 64%
Local news on BBC1 59%
BBC2 Newsnight 58%
BBC Breakfast news 58%
24-hour news on BBC 54%
ITV news at 9/10pm 53%
ITV News at 6pm 42%
BBC1 Lunchtime news 40%
What is interesting here, is the predominance of the BBC, with seven of the top-ten slots, skewed towards the top, out of 22 different broadcasts, with no BBC services lower than position 10. With the exception of Channel 4 news, and ITV news at 9/10, no other non-BBC news slot was used by more than 50% of the survey population.

Perhaps the BBC, with its long tradition of public service broadcasting, and its reputation for relatively ‘objective’ reporting, and its worldwide broadcasting, still retains a significant reputation as a news service to be trusted. What would be interesting to know would be how many non-UK based CRM-Forum members used the BBC services (either the world services of the BBC – television and radio, or its internet news site (http://news.bbc.co.uk/), and incidentally my home page), as a major source of news about the Iraq war.

Perhaps I can be permitted to colour these drab statistics with my own personal use of news channels during the war. At the beginning of the war, like many, I was fascinated by the immediacy of the television reporting, and used the BBC’s 24 hour news service to follow the war. However, very rapidly, I found that getting little glimpses of a fast-evolving situation, though dramatic was highly confusing, and I started to focus more on the BBC’s regular news broadcasts at lunch-time and late evening (9-10pm), complemented by analysis in the ‘quality dailies’, particularly The Independent and The Times. However, I found the TV broadcasts rather too focused on the UK, and US, view of the conflict.

Towards the end of the war my news updates consisted of:
• BBC Internet site, to get depth, and comments from non-UK, non-US observers or participants in the war. This was usually checked first thing in the morning, to ‘catch up’ with what had happened in the 5 hours ahead Iraq day.
• BBC world news (broadcast here in the UK only at 8:00pm on BBC4) which, I presume because of the global audience, gave a far more balanced view of the war than the rather UK-focused broadcasts on UK BBC channels.
• Supplemented by daily analyses in the Independent and the Times to gain a potentially deeper understanding.

Again, I’d like to hear from members about their use of news channels. Make a comment on this editorial by clicking the ‘Add a comment’ link below.

So what conclusions can we gather from this analysis. Firstly, given the low number of US respondents, and the potential skewing introduced by the fact that they were responding to a UK survey, we have to be cautious about the US results. If we put that caution to one side, for a moment, the following tentative conclusions look interesting:

  • The use of the Internet as a ‘trusted source of news’ is high in both countries, but significantly higher in the US. Despite our reservations on sample size, it is clear that television and national newspapers are low in all categories of news in which they have been analysed (‘wider world’, local news, and the Iraq war). To me this looks as if these channels are significantly failing their audiences in the US. Certainly, it looks as if the Internet is increasingly going to become a ‘news channel of choice’ in both the US and the UK, and elsewhere.
  • As for the difference between UK and US use of news sources, there are two potential causes. Either acceptance of the internet as a news channel is much further ahead in the US, or perhaps the BBC plays a unique role in the UK, (and the rest of the world?) as a provider of news which is considered to be pretty objective.
  • Perhaps the most interesting thing is the growing need for ‘global news resources’. By this, I do not mean a news resource for members of a particular culture wherever they are (e.g. the world editions of the Financial Times, or the International Herald Tribune). Instead, the survey, and my personal experience suggest that there is a growing interest in understanding the perspective of people in other cultures. For example, both UK and US respondents wanted to be able to get a more detailed understanding of an Arab perspective of the war.

For myself, I try and meet those needs through a number of resources:

  • The BBC Internet site (news.bbc.co.uk) has a global edition, and also publishes comments from people from around the world.
  • The BBC’s world service (both radio and TV), provides a much less UK-centric view of world happenings than its UK offerings. For irritating commercial reasons these BBC world TV services are not available in the UK, except for a half-hour news bulleting at 8:00pm on BBC4 every day.
  • On the newspaper front, there is a weekly digest of UK and European newspapers called ‘The Week’ which I find an invaluable resource for a near-global perspective – it has almost replaced my purchase of a daily newspaper, and I have been known to purchase a copy or two of the International Herald Tribune.

With the increasing emphasis on global phenomena (9/11, the Afghanistan war, politics at the UN, the Iraq war, and now SARS), there is likely to be a significant growth in news channels with that ‘global’ perspective.

As always we’d like to hear your comments, particularly on what news services (conventional, and Internet-based) you make use of. Make them below or email me at mailto:[email protected]

Regards,

Richard Forsyth

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
02nd May 2003 18:47

Hi, Susan,

Since you felt it important to take me to task, so to speak, on my remarks, I feel it appropriate for me to comment in return on yours.

Your message stated that to be "liberal" is to be open-minded etc. and that comment indicates your naivety vis a vis politics. An American "Liberal" is a political philosophy or attitude involving change from the status quo, NOT a personal attribute. In fact, many Liberals here, and I suspect in the UK, are anything BUT "liberal" as they are highly dogmatic and PC mantra-focused.

Next, you made several comments which revealed, perhaps, your own lack of objectivity, among which were:

- The election in the US of President Bush was not illegal, "stolen", or otherwise corrupted, UNLESS you take a Liberal as opposed to "liberal" point of view, politically. You are simply biased in your viewpoint.

- The American people did not vote for Gore in anything comparable to the bias of Democrats to Republicans on Slate magazine, and Gore's popular vote margin nationwide was only a few hundred thousand out of many millions. By your claim, you show your bias and make hollow your claim for "objectivity."

- What you were taught in Journalism school also included the difference between an Editorial or Op-Ed piece, involving opinions, and Reporting which involves facts. From your post, you seem to be selective in what you took from your training, which again shows your own lack of objectivity.

Robert Swanson


Thanks (0)
avatar
28th Apr 2003 15:24

Hello and congrats on a well run service.

I'd like to offer a quick glimpse of what some of my colleagues and I used to follow the war during the last couple of weeks. I got my news from many Internet sites, some Canadian, but mostly from CNN.com and Military.com. For once, CNN got away from the usual American "propaganda" and fed us some factual news. In the afternoon, I often listened in on Internet radio. I first picked up CNN radio, but found it too biased. I then switched to the BBC world service, which I found facinating for its unbiased coverage of the war.

Of course, I picked up lots from TV, especially in the morning. The press conference in Doha usually coincided with my breakfast. The late news, mostly from the CBC, was my source of choice.

It was interesting that while the action was "hot", the news remained fairly factual. Now that the war has waned, we seem to be getting more "spin". Too bad...

Marc LeBlanc

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
02nd May 2003 14:02

In a follow up to media trust, I came across a link which might be of interest to many readers: www.indymedia.org which has linked independent news sources around the world.

Regards,
Susan

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
02nd May 2003 14:00

I found many of the comments interesting and thank you for sending them. I do feel compelled to comment on Richard Swanson's perspective of the news media as liberal coupled with left wing bias, inferring a blemish on the status of the fourth estate. First, to be liberal is to be broad-minded, open to new ideas and tolerant of the opinions of others. Where I come from, those are qualities to be admired; further, I was taught in school that the duty of the journalist is to report all sides of an issue - which would include the side of the minority as well as the majority. Tolerance and open mindedness are qualities upon which America was founded and which should be treasured and defended.

As far as left wing bias is concerned, I've heard that for years and decided to do a little research. In actual fact, most of the news media, including television, radio and print is in the hands of corporate entities with a decided conservative to right wing bias. And that's a fact. If the majority of journalists voted for Clinton and Gore that simply reflects the rest of the country. America didn't put George Bush in office nor does it reflect his perspective. The electoral college did that with a little help from the family in Florida.

Regards,
Susan

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
29th Apr 2003 04:07

I am based in Australia. Throughout the Iraq war I watched the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news and the BBC world service which probably formed half of the content of the ABC news.
During the day, I used the BBC world service web site to get up to date news.

Why did I use these media ?

We get all of the American news channels here including CNN, NBC etc but when compared with the BBC, the American news services just don't cut the mustard. They don't have the depth of information that the BBC has and they present a very one-sided view of the issues.
I believe that the BBC provides a very good quality, informative and well balanced news service.

Graham, Sydney, Australia

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Apr 2003 17:19

Living in Texas, as I do, I get a double whammy of spin so I got my news from the BBC, National Public Radio, CNN and Peter Jennings, in that order. I still doubt I have a really unbiased view of Iraqi perspective.

Thanks (0)
avatar
28th Apr 2003 18:23

Hi Richard,

We spoke via web once before re my Seminars and yours, and that is still of interest.

Re your fine article: there are a number of OTHER perspectives you might include in the list of probable causes for this "distrust" of TV in the USA vis a vis the web.

First of all, to compare the issue of "distrust" of TV to another media is too self-limiting. Americans increasingly distrust their TV media for many and good reasons, among which are

- The liberal to left wing bias of most of the major networks, cable operators and commentators/news staffs (Fox news exempted)

- The tendency for the TV editorial staffs to view the war from what they call an "objective" point of view, which means in practice that they weight the time used to cover a battle scene equally with that assigned to a humanitarian issue such as alleged civilian casualties, which of course is a matter of editorializing, NOT reporting

- The tendency for USA TV editorial staffs and reporters to "look for a story" rather than report the facts. Our TV reporters here can become famous overnight (witness: Wolf Blitzer in Gulf War I) and they do so via sensationalizing the news stories they find most interesting, and leaving less mentioned those which while more pertinent to the war status, are less interesting for their career advancement.

Next, the point is that Americans incresingly distrust their own TV coverage from most outlets, PERIOD. The Washington DC press voted 89% for Clinton and Gore, goes one study. MSN Slate Magazine (Michael Kinsley was the recent editor) has 29 staff writers, all but 2 of whom voted for Clinton and then Gore.

Our news coverage is decidedly one sided, from the left wing point of view. Americans are more and more realizing this and acting accordingly.

Further, you broke the code, so to speak with the fact that TV brings "sound bites", not perspective, and most people find its instaneoty (is that a word?) to be initially fascinating, but ultimately distort the war view overall.

Finally, I watch BBC all the time via the PBS channels here, and do NOT find them to be "objective" as you do. Worse, I do not think you can be "objective" about a war your country (and mine) are involved in, but the BBC seems to bend over backwards in portraying the Arab view of things, even when such views are obviously completely propagandistic.

Sorry for the long response. Hope you are well.

Keep up the good work, and Good Show!

Warm regards,

Robert Swanson
President
Delta Max

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Apr 2003 16:55

From my point of view Internet users in the US are finding that News comming from other countries are quite different to the ones they watch on national TV. This fact is raising doubts about the way National TV is handling the information we receive.
the Irak war may be the first big example of contradiction between the US media and the rest of the word ( including UK Media ) regarding international affairs due to the high use of this new way of being informed.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By gcable
29th Apr 2003 11:17

Apart from Fox, which struck me as a Shoot-Up games channel, I found my self flicking between the various 24 hr channels. Most were fairly good, but often showed the same "latest" pictures as each other & then replayed them endlessly so it became very confusing about what was real news & what was archive (albeit only a few days old).

In the end I went back to the BBC evening news for both a concise summary & for some context on the situation.

BUT the really interesting channel was CCTC - the Chinese based/centric news channel. In terms of analysis it was probably the most studied & precise. It also seemed to be the most uncomitted either way in terms of its language.

The Euronews was amazing. Very pointedly showing nearly continualy coverage of civilian casualties, with re-runs, with a "no comment" caption.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Apr 2003 16:00

There are some interesting data available from nielsen netratings on usage of the internet around the globe - especially in the UK and US - that are available at http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/news.jsp.

Thanks (0)
avatar
02nd May 2003 18:47

Hi, Susan,

Since you felt it important to take me to task, so to speak, on my remarks, I feel it appropriate for me to comment in return on yours.

Your message stated that to be "liberal" is to be open-minded etc. and that comment indicates your naivety vis a vis politics. An American "Liberal" is a political philosophy or attitude involving change from the status quo, NOT a personal attribute. In fact, many Liberals here, and I suspect in the UK, are anything BUT "liberal" as they are highly dogmatic and PC mantra-focused.

Next, you made several comments which revealed, perhaps, your own lack of objectivity, among which were:

- The election in the US of President Bush was not illegal, "stolen", or otherwise corrupted, UNLESS you take a Liberal as opposed to "liberal" point of view, politically. You are simply biased in your viewpoint.

- The American people did not vote for Gore in anything comparable to the bias of Democrats to Republicans on Slate magazine, and Gore's popular vote margin nationwide was only a few hundred thousand out of many millions. By your claim, you show your bias and make hollow your claim for "objectivity."

- What you were taught in Journalism school also included the difference between an Editorial or Op-Ed piece, involving opinions, and Reporting which involves facts. From your post, you seem to be selective in what you took from your training, which again shows your own lack of objectivity.

Robert Swanson


Thanks (0)
avatar
By gmcdade
28th Apr 2003 17:15

For those who find the mainstream media biased (even sometimes the BBC) here are three web sites that help cut through the spin.
My favourite site for alternative viewpoints is ZNet: http://www.zmag.org/ZNET.htm This is a truly fabulous resource for anyone who seeks alternative perspectives.

In terms of fighting through the inevitable media spin I use FAIR for the US media: http://www.fair.org/

and Media Lens for the British media: http://www.medialens.org/

Visit these sites a few times and you will realize how public opinion is manipluated continuously by the government and compliant corporate media conglomerates.

Geoff McDade
Montreal

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Apr 2003 16:00

There are some interesting data available from nielsen netratings on usage of the internet around the globe - especially in the UK and US - that are available at http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/news.jsp.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By gmcdade
28th Apr 2003 17:15

For those who find the mainstream media biased (even sometimes the BBC) here are three web sites that help cut through the spin.
My favourite site for alternative viewpoints is ZNet: http://www.zmag.org/ZNET.htm This is a truly fabulous resource for anyone who seeks alternative perspectives.

In terms of fighting through the inevitable media spin I use FAIR for the US media: http://www.fair.org/

and Media Lens for the British media: http://www.medialens.org/

Visit these sites a few times and you will realize how public opinion is manipluated continuously by the government and compliant corporate media conglomerates.

Geoff McDade
Montreal

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
29th Apr 2003 04:07

I am based in Australia. Throughout the Iraq war I watched the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) news and the BBC world service which probably formed half of the content of the ABC news.
During the day, I used the BBC world service web site to get up to date news.

Why did I use these media ?

We get all of the American news channels here including CNN, NBC etc but when compared with the BBC, the American news services just don't cut the mustard. They don't have the depth of information that the BBC has and they present a very one-sided view of the issues.
I believe that the BBC provides a very good quality, informative and well balanced news service.

Graham, Sydney, Australia

Thanks (0)
avatar
By gcable
29th Apr 2003 11:17

Apart from Fox, which struck me as a Shoot-Up games channel, I found my self flicking between the various 24 hr channels. Most were fairly good, but often showed the same "latest" pictures as each other & then replayed them endlessly so it became very confusing about what was real news & what was archive (albeit only a few days old).

In the end I went back to the BBC evening news for both a concise summary & for some context on the situation.

BUT the really interesting channel was CCTC - the Chinese based/centric news channel. In terms of analysis it was probably the most studied & precise. It also seemed to be the most uncomitted either way in terms of its language.

The Euronews was amazing. Very pointedly showing nearly continualy coverage of civilian casualties, with re-runs, with a "no comment" caption.

Thanks (0)
avatar
28th Apr 2003 15:24

Hello and congrats on a well run service.

I'd like to offer a quick glimpse of what some of my colleagues and I used to follow the war during the last couple of weeks. I got my news from many Internet sites, some Canadian, but mostly from CNN.com and Military.com. For once, CNN got away from the usual American "propaganda" and fed us some factual news. In the afternoon, I often listened in on Internet radio. I first picked up CNN radio, but found it too biased. I then switched to the BBC world service, which I found facinating for its unbiased coverage of the war.

Of course, I picked up lots from TV, especially in the morning. The press conference in Doha usually coincided with my breakfast. The late news, mostly from the CBC, was my source of choice.

It was interesting that while the action was "hot", the news remained fairly factual. Now that the war has waned, we seem to be getting more "spin". Too bad...

Marc LeBlanc

Thanks (0)
avatar
28th Apr 2003 18:23

Hi Richard,

We spoke via web once before re my Seminars and yours, and that is still of interest.

Re your fine article: there are a number of OTHER perspectives you might include in the list of probable causes for this "distrust" of TV in the USA vis a vis the web.

First of all, to compare the issue of "distrust" of TV to another media is too self-limiting. Americans increasingly distrust their TV media for many and good reasons, among which are

- The liberal to left wing bias of most of the major networks, cable operators and commentators/news staffs (Fox news exempted)

- The tendency for the TV editorial staffs to view the war from what they call an "objective" point of view, which means in practice that they weight the time used to cover a battle scene equally with that assigned to a humanitarian issue such as alleged civilian casualties, which of course is a matter of editorializing, NOT reporting

- The tendency for USA TV editorial staffs and reporters to "look for a story" rather than report the facts. Our TV reporters here can become famous overnight (witness: Wolf Blitzer in Gulf War I) and they do so via sensationalizing the news stories they find most interesting, and leaving less mentioned those which while more pertinent to the war status, are less interesting for their career advancement.

Next, the point is that Americans incresingly distrust their own TV coverage from most outlets, PERIOD. The Washington DC press voted 89% for Clinton and Gore, goes one study. MSN Slate Magazine (Michael Kinsley was the recent editor) has 29 staff writers, all but 2 of whom voted for Clinton and then Gore.

Our news coverage is decidedly one sided, from the left wing point of view. Americans are more and more realizing this and acting accordingly.

Further, you broke the code, so to speak with the fact that TV brings "sound bites", not perspective, and most people find its instaneoty (is that a word?) to be initially fascinating, but ultimately distort the war view overall.

Finally, I watch BBC all the time via the PBS channels here, and do NOT find them to be "objective" as you do. Worse, I do not think you can be "objective" about a war your country (and mine) are involved in, but the BBC seems to bend over backwards in portraying the Arab view of things, even when such views are obviously completely propagandistic.

Sorry for the long response. Hope you are well.

Keep up the good work, and Good Show!

Warm regards,

Robert Swanson
President
Delta Max

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Apr 2003 16:55

From my point of view Internet users in the US are finding that News comming from other countries are quite different to the ones they watch on national TV. This fact is raising doubts about the way National TV is handling the information we receive.
the Irak war may be the first big example of contradiction between the US media and the rest of the word ( including UK Media ) regarding international affairs due to the high use of this new way of being informed.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
28th Apr 2003 17:19

Living in Texas, as I do, I get a double whammy of spin so I got my news from the BBC, National Public Radio, CNN and Peter Jennings, in that order. I still doubt I have a really unbiased view of Iraqi perspective.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
02nd May 2003 14:00

I found many of the comments interesting and thank you for sending them. I do feel compelled to comment on Richard Swanson's perspective of the news media as liberal coupled with left wing bias, inferring a blemish on the status of the fourth estate. First, to be liberal is to be broad-minded, open to new ideas and tolerant of the opinions of others. Where I come from, those are qualities to be admired; further, I was taught in school that the duty of the journalist is to report all sides of an issue - which would include the side of the minority as well as the majority. Tolerance and open mindedness are qualities upon which America was founded and which should be treasured and defended.

As far as left wing bias is concerned, I've heard that for years and decided to do a little research. In actual fact, most of the news media, including television, radio and print is in the hands of corporate entities with a decided conservative to right wing bias. And that's a fact. If the majority of journalists voted for Clinton and Gore that simply reflects the rest of the country. America didn't put George Bush in office nor does it reflect his perspective. The electoral college did that with a little help from the family in Florida.

Regards,
Susan

Thanks (0)
avatar
By admin
02nd May 2003 14:02

In a follow up to media trust, I came across a link which might be of interest to many readers: www.indymedia.org which has linked independent news sources around the world.

Regards,
Susan

Thanks (0)