Palestinians trust their media despite weak performance
By Fadi Abu Sada
BETLEHEM, Dec. 17, 2007 (MENASSAT.COM) – There have been very few attempts at tracking who is doing what media-wise in the Palestinian Territories. Certainly, there is sparse research to indicate how these media outlets are received by the Palestinian public. Until now.
In November, the Palestine Partners Center for Media Development (Shuraka’/PPCMD), in cooperation with the Palestine News Network (PNN), conducted a survey to gauge how Palestinians view their own media outlets.
The PPCMD described the poll as the largest of its kind. Carried out over a period of twenty days (November 1 – November 20), 1,531 Palestinians residing in the occupied areas of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were surveyed. All of those polled were aged 18 and above, with the margin of error being around 4 percent.
Three out of four Palestinian citizens surveyed said they trusted the media outlets and followed the news on a daily basis, something the PPCMD says is a relatively high percentage when compared with other similar media surveys conducted in the Arab world. Many also said they trusted the Arab media more than they trusted the Western media.
However, the majority of those surveyed also believed that their local media had failed to address the social and economic problems facing Palestinians today. In fact, the PPCMD poll indicated that Palestinians viewed this lack of news coverage as a failure of media responsibilities – the principal one being that Palestinian media failed to let the public know about other domestic developments – cultural, athletic, economic – and not just the political ones.
According to the poll, the local media coverage relied too much on the opinions of talking heads having clear partisan agendas versus relying on the voices of Palestinians from the streets – those affected by the policies of the Israeli government, the Palestinian factions and the Western powers who have maintained a crippling economic boycott of the Territories since Hamas was democratically elected in 2006.
Some 59 percent of those surveyed believed that the Palestinian government should avoid influencing the news in any way, while more than half of the women surveyed believed that media censorship mainly depended on the topic that was being addressed.
Over half of those polled also said that the local and international media were sympathetic to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after he formed a “caretaker” government in July of 2007 following Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip from security forces loyal to President Abbas’ Fatah factions.
The survey also formally identified some 70 television and radio stations operating in the Territories including the “state run” Palestinian Television and its accompanying radio station and the Hamas affiliated Al-Aqsa satellite channel.
Some 47 percent of those surveyed relied mostly on television and satellite channels as their main sources of information, with roughly 40 percent of those surveyed saying they preferred the Al-Arabiya satellite network compared with 35 percent that opted for Al-Jazeera.
Proving that radio is still a viable medium for information exchange, 15 percent of those surveyed relied on radio stations as their primary source of news, while the Internet was clearly an up-and-coming source for information with 16 percent of those polled saying they relied on the Internet for their news with the Maan and Ramattan online news agencies receiving the most support for online news.
Some 22 percent of those polled relied on daily newspapers as their primary source of news, with 45 percent of the viewing audience citing the Al-Quds al-Makdessiya newspaper as the most trusted news source. 34 percent preferred the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam newspaper – with much of this readership coming from Palestinian youth aged 35 and younger and from women.
In the Gaza Strip, 43 percent of those surveyed trusted the Gaza-based Palestine newspaper with 33 percent showing their loyalty to Al-Ayyam.
Menassat.com Palestine Correspondent
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