Poll: Americans Want their Iraq News

The Zogby news release, below, about a new poll demonstrates that Informed Comment is giving the American people what they want in the way of Iraq news: “When asked about the news coverage of the Iraq war, most (80%) say the coverage has been fair or poor. When respondents were asked to pick what coverage they would like to see more of, stories about the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people were the two most chosen (68% each) . . .” They also said that the war is having an impact on their local communities, and a fifth had had a relative serve in Iraq! Nearly half knew community members who had served or were serving.

Television news has largely dumped Iraq as a story, quite unwisely according to this poll. Almost as many Americans learn about Iraq from the internet (28%) as from television (33%). We in the blogosphere are not far from overtaking television on this one! Even when they were covering it, the US channels almost never reported on the Iraqi government or people. There have been few interviews with Iraqi government or opposition figures. Virtually no one has explained the difference between Abdul Aziz al-Hakim’s Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadr Movement, both Shiite religious parties. Yet what has been happening in south Iraq and Baghdad lately has been largely a feud between al-Hakim and al-Sadr, with PM al-Maliki having switched to taking al-Hakim’s side.

One reason the American public so easily believes implausible assertions about Middle East politics is that our mass media gives them little context for judging how plausible assertions are.

The poll:

‘Released: May 21, 2008

New Survey Reveals that the Public is Well Informed about the War in Iraq, More than Half Have Seen Memorable Story

A new online survey from The Poynter Institute measures the public’s satisfaction with news coverage of the Iraq war, revealing that most indicate that they are well informed about the war and have seen at least one memorable story about the war’s impact at home. More than 50 percent indicate that they have been touched by the war.

St. Petersburg, FL (PR Web) May 21, 2008 – According to a new survey released today by The Poynter Institute and funded by The McCormick Foundation, three-quarters of respondents (75%) state that they are well informed about the war, and more than half (60%) indicate that they have seen at least one memorable story about the war’s impact at home. The survey’s publication coincides with a three-day conference at The Poynter Institute entitled “Covering War at Home.”

Conducted by Zobgy International, the online survey measures the public’s satisfaction with coverage of the Iraq war and included 8,683 adults that were representative of the U.S. population. Other top line survey findings include:

Memorable war coverage includes impact at home and healthcare issues

More than half (60%) say they have seen at least one memorable story about the war’s impact at home, and most (80%) say they have followed stories regarding healthcare of those returning from Iraq and an astonishing 88% say they are aware of the Walter Reed story. Three out of four (76%) say they have read or heard about the economic impact of the war.

War impacts us at home

Not surprising, the vast majority (86%) believe that the war has an impact on life in the U.S. Nearly half (46%) say that members of their community have died in the war, and 4 in 10 (39%) say that community members are serving in the war. One in five (21%) had a relative serve or is now serving (18%) in the war.

The public wants more stories about the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people

When asked about the news coverage of the Iraq war, most (80%) say the coverage has been fair or poor. When respondents were asked to pick what coverage they would like to see more of, stories about the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people were the two most chosen (68% each), followed by stories about returning soldiers (58%), stories about how war has impacted communities here in the U.S. (57%), and news about areas in Iraq where there is not regular conflict (56%). Casualty reports (32%) were the least chosen area of coverage.

Television, Web sites are the top destinations for news about impact

A third of all respondents (33%) say they learn about the impact of war at home through television, while 28% say they learn about it through Internet sites. Fewer (12%) say they learn about the impact of the war at home via newspaper or radio. Men (32%) are more likely than women (24%) to say they learn about the impact of war at home from Internet sites. Nearly all survey respondents, 90%, indicate they are active consumers of news.

“This survey gives journalists and newsroom leaders a chance to reflect upon what the public wants to know about the impact of the Iraq war at home. It also reflects the acceleration of the need for journalists to deal with multiple ways to tell their stories, as the Internet is a key platform for consumers to learn about the conflict and the impact,”says Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning at The Poynter Institute.

For more information about the survey, visit Poynter Online.

About The Poynter Institute

Founded in 1975 in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Poynter Institute (www.poynter.org) is one of the nation’s top schools for professional journalists, future journalists and journalism educators. Poynter offers training throughout the year in the areas of online and multimedia; leadership and management; reporting, writing and editing; TV and radio; ethics and diversity; journalism education; and visual journalism. Poynter’s News University (www.newsu.org) offers newsroom training to journalists and journalism students through interactive e-learning modules and links to other journalism education and training opportunities.

About The McCormick Foundation

The McCormick Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to making life better for our children, communities and country. Through its charitable grantmaking programs, Cantigny Park and Golf, Cantigny First Division Foundation and the McCormick Freedom Museum, the Foundation positively impacts people’s lives and stays true to its mission of advancing the ideals of a free, democratic society. For more information, please visit the Web site www.McCormickFoundation.org.

About Zogby International

Zogby International is a public opinion, research, and business solutions firm with experience working in more than 70 countries around the globe. Founded and led by John Zogby since 1984, Zogby International ranks as one of the industry’s leaders thanks to its reputation for superior accuracy and reliability. Zogby specializes in telephone, Internet, and face-to-face survey research and analysis for political, corporate, non-profit, and governmental clients. The firm is headquartered in Utica, New York, with offices in Washington D.C., Miami, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Contact:

Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning

The Poynter Institute

727-553-4371

hfinberg@poynter.org

(5/21/2008) ‘