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[liberationtech] New Report on Media Consumption in Iran

Katy P katycarvt at
Tue Jul 17 17:27:21 PDT 2012

I wish that they'd make a detailed methodological report available.

But, going off what this report says...

To clarify - this is an URBAN ONLY SAMPLE so saying "general Iranian
public" is not fair. And if you hear/see someone claiming that this is
representative of the Iranian public, please correct them. This was
conducted only in 4 major cities.

They also did not try 2nd or 3rd attempts. If the household didn't answer
the door to the interviewer, the interviewer moved on. Thus, the survey
respondents were those more inclined to respond. Generally you'd want to
attempt a few times.

Also, they used a very small number of interviewers - 5 for each city. What
if 1 of those interviewers was a little lazy and just filled them all out
herself. (Which happens ALL THE TIME.) I'd like to see some information
about response rates, interviewer error, etc.

Moreover, surveying in an authoritarian state is an art, not a science.
There are ways to ask questions that allow people some breathing room as to
not actually disclose that they're doing things that may upset the regime.
This survey did not engage those methods.

While I can't hold it against the BBG and IMP because perhaps they don't
know anymore, I *wish* that this work had been done/money had been spent
with the methodological rigor appropriate for this kind of project.

Ah well.


On Tue, Jul 17, 2012 at 5:06 PM, Katy P <katycarvt at> wrote:

> Are they going to release a more detailed methodology report?
> On Jul 17, 2012 5:04 PM, "Collin Anderson" <collin at>
> wrote:
>> Libtech,
>> Within the past month, both the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, in
>> collaboration with Gallup, and the Iran Media Program at UPenn's Annenberg
>> School of Communications have released separately collected and interesting
>> survey data on the media habits and trust amongst the general Iranian
>> public. IMP's report 'Finding A Way' is particularly instructive, and
>> incorporates the results of the BBG's work in a very accessible manner.
>> Both are generally skeptical of the news role of online social media in
>> comparison to the more ubiquitous reach of satellite television, chiefly
>> state media. I have attached some excerpts below, but highly recommend that
>> those interested in development and freedom of expression projects targeted
>> to the country read the report in full.
>> Full Link:
>> Cordially,
>> Collin
>> ----
>> *Media Use*
>> When asked – out of the sources listed – to select their 3 most important
>>> news sources, TV was the first choice for a staggering 96% of the sample,
>>> followed by the press (45%) and friends and family (38%). The finding that
>>> so few respondents selected taxis, shops, cafes, and the mosque may suggest
>>> that – at least for our sample and at this time –public places are an
>>> uneasy space for information gathering and exchange, possibly due to the
>>> present political situation in Iran and the culture of guarded behavior
>>> and speech in public. But these observations must be tempered by the
>>> listing of strong ties (family and friends) and weak ties (neighbors or
>>> acquaintances) as important outlets for political information, potentially
>>> pointing to the trust that people place in their social networks, and which
>>> may be lacking in other public contexts.
>> The questions about online activities were asked only to those who were
>>> internet users. Among the analyzed sample, more respondents reported
>>> reading blogs (42% of the internet users or 20% of the sample, 203 people)
>>> than belonging to online social networks (20% of the internet users or 10%
>>> of the sample, 99 individuals). Also, 18% of the users (8.5% of the sample,
>>> 87 people) reported commenting on blogs, and 8% of the users (4% of the
>>> sample, 41 people) writing their own blog (15 of them update it less than
>>> once a month, 9 about once a month, 4 about every 2 weeks, 7 about once a
>>> week, 3 several times a week but not every day and 2 everyday).
>> Some 45% to 60% of Iranians watch satellite TV, according to estimates
>>> from the state media company and an Iranian research center, exceeding the
>>> number believed to use the Internet.
>> Twitter was, as of early this year, the least prevalent new media tool
>>> (used by 10 respondents – 2% of internet users, 1% of the entire sample).
>>> This finding is directly parallel to the BBG’s 2012 study which also found
>>> that 2% of users accessed the internet to use Twitter.
>> *Among Internet-based Survey Samples*
>>  ...for whom TV was among the three most important outlets, the most
>>> important source of news and information about politics and current events
>>> was the state-run and stateowned IRIB network (62% selected this station as
>>> one of their most important), followed by BBC Persian (55%) and Voice of
>>> America/Persian News Network(30%).
>> Among those who selected the internet as the most important
>>> information source (85% of the sample or 2392 individuals), the BBC Persian
>>> website – filtered in the Islamic Republic of Iran – was selected most
>>> frequently (38% of respondents indicated that it was one of the most
>>> important informational internet sites), followed by Tabnak (27%),
>>> Balatarin (25% of respondents, also filtered), Kaleme (which belongs to
>>> reformist candidate and Green Movement leader Mir-Hussein Mousavi, also
>>> filtered – 19%), the aforementioned conservative Fars News (18%), Aftab
>>> (17%, linked to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani; although it gives
>>> coverage to various topics its main focus is politics) and Voice of America
>>> in Persian (17%, also filtered).
>> As with the general population, a vast majority of the respondents (96%)
>>> reported having a cell phone, and nearly all of those who did have one
>>> (99%) used it to send text messages in the past month (with 50% texting
>>> several times a day, 21.5% at least once a day and 20% several times a
>>> week, but not every day). When it comes to more advanced cell phone uses,
>>> about one-third of the sample reported sending or receiving content via
>>> Bluetooth, with roughly half doing so about once a month or less (48%).
>> *Circumvention Tools*
>> A solid majority (73.5%) have not heard about these tools. Among those
>>> who said they were familiar with these tools (the remaining 26.5%), a
>>>  majority reported that it would be either easy (43%) or very easy (19%) to
>>> find and access such tools, 27% would find it difficult, 6.5% very
>>> difficult and 5% nearly impossible. Yet, as the figure shows, respondents
>>> would not feel very secure using online tools that help circumvent blocked
>>> websites, with nearly half (46%) reporting they would feel insecure or very
>>> insecure using them.
>> Lastly, when asked to rate their ability to use circumvention tools,
>>> respondents who have heard about them rated their ability as rather low
>>> (i.e., 22% bad, 29% poor, 28% fair, 22% good and 8% excellent).
>> Unsurprisingly, as our additional analyses have found, it was the
>>> younger, male, and more educated respondents who were more likely to know
>>> about circumvention tools.
>> --
>> *Collin David Anderson*
>> | @cda | Washington, D.C.
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