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Hypergene MediaBlog » Online Credibility Survey in Dallas

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Thursday, 14 Nov 2002

Online Credibility Survey in Dallas

Belo Interactive, in conjunction with the Associated Press Managing Editors and the Ford Foundation, recently conducted an online news survey on the credibility of online news sources. Questions were prepared by Southern Methodist University professors Chris Peck and Camille Kraeplin.

A total of 1,649 people voluntarily participated in the non-scientific survey after accessing it through links from the front pages of four Belo-operated Web sites: The Dallas Morning News; WFAA-TV; Texas Cable News; and The Denton Record-Chronicle.

In a story summarizing the findings, they note: “The online survey is qualitative only and not a scientific representation of Dallas Web site usersí views. However, the survey results mirror the views of most Dallas Web site users who recently responded to a scientific survey conducted by a marketing and research firm on behalf of Belo Interactive.”

Interesting key findings

  • Newspapers are most credible medium over the Internet, television and radio. This was true of all age groups, but scored highest with younger users (age 15-25). Interestingly with the younger demographic, the Internet scored least credible. In other age groups, TV scored least credible. The majority (70 percent) is more likely to believe an Internet news source is credible if it’s associated with a print or broadcast organization they are familiar with.
  • Internet is the destination for immediate news. Two-thirds of respondents said they would use an Internet news site before a radio or TV newscast or a daily newspaper to catch up with the dayís events. 73 percent of those surveyed said they wanted online news posted quickly, even if the report lacked all the details.
  • Users donít believe they should have to pay for online news. Only 6 percent agreed when asked whether people should have to pay for information they get over the Internet; and 84 percent agreed they should not have to pay. Eight in 10 (80 percent) said they themselves would not be willing to pay.
  • Pop up ads lessen credibility. 69 percent of all users (79 percent of users age 15–25) surveyed say that the presence of pop up ads makes an Internet site less credible. 60 percent said ads with sound effects hurt a news site’s credibility, while 58 percent said the same of ads with video.

    Pop Up ads lessen credibility

    It’s worth noting that some Belo Interactive sites are plagued with pop up ads. When we went to the Texas Cable News web site, we got three pop up ads — one for a marketing survey, one that’s editorial content “Today in Texas History”, and one advertisement. It should be interesting to see if they are willing to take the revenue hit in exchange for increased perceived credibility.

Disclosure: We worked for Belo Interactive from Jan 1998 to Feb of 2001.

Related research
The Stanford Web Credibility Project, Ongoing research
ONA Digital Journalism Credibility Study, January 2002. Also see: Poynter article
The Credibility of Newspapers, Television News and Online Newspapersby University of Miami School of Communication, February 2002. Also see: Additional studies on Computers and News
An Educators’ Guide to Credibility and Web Evaluation, University of Illinois, Spring, 1999. Also: 2002 Addendum.

Posted on Nov 14, 2002 | 12:56 pm EST
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