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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Four-fifths of UAE residents trust country's media outlets, survey finds

Television remains top for breaking news

The National Media Council survey was among the largest of its kind in the Middle East. Pawan Singh / The National
The National Media Council survey was among the largest of its kind in the Middle East. Pawan Singh / The National

Four-fifths of UAE residents have trust in the country's media outlets, according to one of the largest surveys of its kind.

The authors of a study, commissioned by the UAE's National Media Council, interviewed 2,500 people, half Emiratis and half expats.

Along finding that 80.5 per cent trust the media, the study also found that when it came to breaking local news, such as emergencies and crises, 33 per cent turned to television channels in the first instance.

A further 22 per cent went straight to Facebook and 12 per cent directly to print outlets. Less than 10 per cent went to Twitter or other news websites.

More broadly, for local and international news, 30 per cent also chose television, and 25 per cent chose Facebook.

“We have seen people around the world lose trust in the media over the past ten years,” said Dr Basim Tweissi, dean of the Jordan Media Institute, which carried out the study for the council.

“And in the US over the past year, only 32 per cent said they have trust in the media. Even the number of Republican Party members who trust the media dropped last year by 14 per cent.”

Among the criticisms was how the media write about young people, the speed at which news was delivered, a lack of diversification, freedom of expression and critical opinion.

Jaber Al Lamki, acting executive director of media and strategic communications at the National Media Council, said he was surprised that television news viewing figures remain so high.

“We were expecting the majority to follow digital media sources, but surprisingly people still watch most of their news on TV,” he said.

“We wanted to work with the study's samples directly to hear their perceptions, and so that we can work with local media channels on improving the distribution of information and news.”

He added that the Jordanian institute was chosen to conduct the survey to ensure credibility of results, as it is an objective party.

Dr Tweissi said that television remains widely regarded as being immediate and reliable for breaking news.

“For instance, the number of people who watch the main Jordanian channel has declined in recent years, but when there is a crisis many people turn to it," he said.

The study also asked candidates how much they thought local media outlets portrayed a positive image of the UAE, and 71 per cent strongly agreed.