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Media Experts Discuss Readers' and Viewers' Trust
Americans, British trust government more than their mass media
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-04 16:30 (KST)   
The We Media Forum, a meeting of media leaders and experts in London, on its first day reviewed a survey on people's trust in the media. A live feed is available for day two at Reuters.

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The survey by Globescan asked 10,230 adults in 10 countries about their trust in the media and changing patterns of use. Trust was compared for media and governments. Generally, media are trusted more than governments (by 61 percent compared to 52 percent). The main exceptions are the United States and the United Kingdom where the media are trusted less than government.

Television news is the main source of trusted information. Germany is unique in that more people name newspapers rather than television as a main source. The challenging trends are from countries such as South Korea where broadband is advanced and from young people who are frequently online.

South Koreans' most important news sources in a typical week are television (mentioned first by 41 percent), the Internet (34 percent, by far the highest proportion in any of the 10 countries), newspapers (19 percent), and radio (4 percent), according to the survey's findings.

Younger people use online sources most, being the first choice among 19 percent aged between 18 and 24 years old, compared to just 3 percent in the 55-64 age range. But 56 percent overall valued the opportunity to obtain news online, South Koreans being the most enthusiastic at 85 percent. Britain was at 57 percent and the United States at 60 percent.

The Forum for Leaders was clear that there is a shift happening in how news is distributed and the associated space for debate between citizens is changing.

Mark Thompson from the BBC stated that he saw new technology as disruptive and that he did not expect all existing news organizations to manage the transition. This was supported by Nikesh Arora from Google. He said things are moving much faster than assumed by some people in the media who might think of the Web as a bad dream that would one day go away. Arora suggested that national newspapers are now local newspapers given the scale of some global Web sites with millions of page views per day. Arora mentioned OhmyNews as an example of the kind of business model that is better suited to the new environment.

Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera).
©2006 Rafat Ali
Wadah Khanfar from Al Jazeera claimed that the TV station had emerged with community support so that new aspects of the Web site will develop naturally. He was repeatedly questioned by Nik Gowing from the BBC about the substantial financial resources available for Al Jazeera and their readiness to take risks to build a brand.

The Globescan survey reported on an urban-only survey in Egypt that found news sources mentioned by Egyptians as being trustworthy were Al Jazeera (59 percent), Channel 1 Egypt TV (12 percent), Al Ahran (6 percent), Al Akhbar (5 percent), Nile News (4 percent), Yahoo and the CNN Web site (each 2 percent), Google and BBC World Service radio (each 1 percent). The BBC has new funding from the UK foreign office to launch a satellite TV service in the Middle East.

Khanfar pointed out that reporting in the Middle East is much closer to matters of life and death than in other regions. How things are reported can influence how people die. He reminded the audience that Al Jazeera offices have twice been bombed. He mentioned reports that U.S. President George W. Bush had discussed bombing Al Jazeera, but he also said he did not know if this was true.

The topic of journalist security also came up in a later session on citizen journalism. Speaking from the floor, Bertrand Pecquerie's first point was that citizen journalism has only gained strength in media environments without diversity - a conservative press culture in South Korea and a patriotic pro-war media in the United States.

His second point was that we have only seen the worst of the blogosphere, not the best of it. He gave the example of the attacks on CNN's Eason Jordan, who has been reported as suggesting at a Davos event that journalists were being targeted in U.S. operations. Pecquerie believes the blogosphere concentrated on whether this statement was made or not rather than the issue about U.S. government policy.

Pequerie's example may not be typical of the blogosphere, but he has got a point. A later panel discussion at We Media questioned why Davos has not released a tape of the session in which Jordan made the remarks. So far, I have not come across any discussion on why the Al Jazeera memo is subject to the UK Official Secrets Act.

This is only day one, however. And Jeff Jarvis on Buzzmachine may have something to add to Pequerie's contribution.

- Leader Forum - We Media 

©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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