Thursday, May 15, 2008

Koreans Trust the Internet, Blogs as News Sources

More sense can be made of the current political upheaval in South Korea over importing American beef against the backdrop of a 2006 survey conducted in ten countries for the BBC, Reuters and the American Press Institute's Media Center. What made Korea stand out among the ten countries in this study was the degree of trust shown in the internet as a source of news. Approximately 85% of South Koreans asked said they put a high value on accessing news over the internet, a much higher proportion than in other countries. As shown in the graphic to the left, over a third of Koreans named the internet as their most important source of news. Especially amoung young people, there has been a switch from reliance on television as a news source to the internet. This pattern can be seen in all ten of the countries in the survey, but it is most pronounced in Korea. The survey cites the impact of Korea's advanced communications infrastructure, noting that over 86% of households (that percentage is now well over 90 percent) are online. "The supremacy of TV is in danger of being usurped by the internet. A third of Koreans cite the net as their most important source of news, rivalling the 41% who cite TV. It is also one of the most positive countries about blogs, with 38% trusting them compared to the 10-country average of 25%. " The full poll results can be downloaded in PDF format from the BBC and they contain some interesting glimpses of the new communication environment emerging in South Korea. Seventy-one percent of South Koreans think that government interferes too much with the media, a percentage exceeded only in Nigeria (where 74% hold that view). Seventeen percent of South Koreans named blogs as their most important news source, compared with only 3 percent in the other nine countries surveyed.

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