Newly released IREX audience research shows that while Iraqis continue to rely on television as their primary source for news and information, social media and mobile devices play an important role in the consumption and distribution of news and information in Iraq. The Iraq Audience Measurement Survey, a periodic study of media usage in Iraq, was commissioned by IREX as part of the Media and Technology for Community Development program. D3 Systems of Vienna, Virginia conducted the survey.
The 2011 edition of the study builds on the 2010 wave of audience research released by IREX but now includes a new section focusing specifically on how Iraqi youth consume and share information. Interestingly, nearly half of Iraqis surveyed cited “Friends and Family” as a source of news. Reliance on social sources of information and overall low levels of trust in media outlets indicate that Iraqi media consumers, while extremely interested in news, remain skeptical of national and local media.
The study found that Internet usage in Iraq is overwhelming social, especially among younger users. Of the top five reported online activities, four involve social networking or personal communication while work related tasks, commerce, and research rank significantly lower. Iraqi youth who use new media to access news are just as likely as the rest of the population to use traditional media. Youth are actually more likely than the general population read newspapers and magazines for news.
D3 and IREX presented the survey results to over 100 representatives from news outlets from across the country at a recent conference in Erbil, Iraq. Roundtables and discussions with media managers, led by D3 Systems’ Robert Johnston, followed to assist media outlets in interpreting the data and using the results to better serve their audiences.
The study is part of IREX’s ongoing efforts to support the development of a sustainable and professional media sector in Iraq and is funded by a grant to IREX from the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL).