Study: Internet is most important source for news in Qatar

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Two local institutions have published back-to-back reports that offer insight into Qatar’s media landscape. In our first post, we tackle “Media Use in the Middle East: An Eight-Nation Survey” by Northwestern University in Qatar. The second, to be published tomorrow, will review the Doha Centre for Media Freedom’s “Report on GCC Media Laws”.

Residents of Qatar rely more on the internet to find news and information than any form of traditional media, including TV, radio, newspapers or even acquaintances, a new study has found.

They also turn to the internet more than any other country polled in the region, according to Northwestern University in Qatar’s new report “Media Use in the Middle East: An Eight-Nation Survey.

NU-Q partnered with market research firm Harris Interactive to poll some 10,000 people in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates to understand how media is used in the region.

Figures on Qatar in the report are based on some 900 respondents, which breaks down into 242 Qatari nationals, 290 Arab expatriates, 284 Asian expats, and 104 “others.”

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Assessing the importance of different forms of media in the spread of information, internet beat out TV and newspapers as a prime source here a rating of 78 percent. TV received an importance rating of 58 percent, while fewer than half of all responders voted for newspapers, at 48 percent, and radio ranking low at 37 percent.

Whether online or otherwise, no media is trusted 100 percent in Qatar. With a slim majority, 53 percent of respondents in Qatar agreed that “media in your country are credible.”

And when ranked for reliability, people didn’t necessarily trust internet sources most. The highest number of responders – 56 percent – said they perceived TV to be reliable, while 52 percent thought so of the internet, and 49 said they trusted newspapers.

Free expression

The NU-Q report also tackled questions of Internet regulation and free expression in the eight Arab countries.

Of the nearly 1,000 participants in Qatar, the majority supported freedom of expression. Specifically, 60 percent agreed with the statement, “It is okay for people to express their ideas on the Internet, even if they are unpopular.”

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However, when questioned about government regulation, 57 percent said the internet “should be more tightly regulated than it is now.”

Predictably, most people here are interested in national and local news – 73 percent and 65 percent, respectively – although interest in international and regional affairs wasn’t far behind at 59 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

Other findings of note:

  • Higher than any other country polled, 90 percent of Qatari responders said they use the internet in general.
  • Of those internet users, a higher-than-average 79 percent said they used a wireless handheld device. Getting into specifics, the most common wireless internet devices used are: smartphones (72 percent), laptops (58 percent) and then tablets (34 percent). That also gave Qatar the highest level of tablet usage of regional countries surveyed.

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  • Some 74 percent of Qatar respondents use social media (lowest of polled countries), and that for an average 3 hours a day. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the most-used social media site. Twitter trails, followed distantly by Instagram, then Google+ and lastly, LinkedIn.
  • In Qatar, respondents are also substantively more likely to access the Internet in English (76 percent) versus Arabic (52 percent) and French (3 percent).
  • Demographically, men were a little more likely to be online than women, as were those who were younger (under 45), more educated and employed.

NU-Q has launched a website to allow people to browse the survey results, although only highlights are available online.

They also shared this PowerPoint presentation with us from yesterday’s launch:

Thoughts?

Credit: Top photo courtesy of Doha Tweetups on Facebook

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