Usage patterns of the local media

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Findings of an experimental research project by the Institute For Public Policy Research (IPPR) revealed some insightful facts about the reading patterns and preferences of Namibians of the local print and electronic media. The research, conducted among some 500 students at the University of Namibia, revealed that New Era is the second most read newspaper in the country. The report indicates that 70 percent of the research participants showed quite high interest in the three main mediums: television, (83,6%) newspapers (79,6%) and radio (73,1%). According to the report, men are slightly more interested in newspapers than women, who are significantly more interested in television and radio. Comparing newspapers to television and radio, the report states that newspapers are relatively cheap, are easily accessible, more durable and can be read at any time and place. “Therefore, one is less likely to ‘miss out’ on important news as is the case with television and to some extent radio when one is not ‘tuned in’ at the appropriate time,” the report said. It further disclosed that the most frequently read newspaper is The Namibian (98%), followed by the second most popular newspaper, New Era (40,6%), with Die Republikein in third place (17,8%). “The research has shown that students have the biggest interest in newspaper articles with Namibian stories. Almost three in four students are very interested in these local stories. Social issues and sport are respectively in second and third place. There is a clear preference among respondents for stories other than those dealing with politics and economics. Social stories (58%) and entertainment (45%) received much greater attention. “This suggests students read newspapers more for their entertainment value than for information about public policy,” the document stated. Only 38 percent of The Namibian’s readers trust it always and about 48 percent trust it nearly always, whereas (55%) New Era readers nearly always or always trust the newspaper with the least trusted paper being the German daily, Allgemeine Zeitung. Television usage received the highest interest with the average student daily watching three to four hours per day. “Thus the medium of television must be regarded as one of the most important mediums to reach and inform young Namibians. Open File and the national news bulletins are by far the most watched by respondents compared to current affairs programmes such as Talk of the Nation. The least trusted television programmes were found to be The Breakfast Show (NBC),” the report said. Further findings indicate that 75 percent of students listen to radio broadcasts of Unam Radio and NBC Radio on a daily basis for between five and seven hours. Contrary to popular belief, though more entertainment oriented, students do not often listen to commercial radios such as Radio Kudu, Radio Cosmos and Kanaal 7. “Radio entertainment appears to be less popular among students. It also shows that commercial radio stations are less likely to have a significant impact on listeners’ civic and political knowledge than radio services such as Unam Radio and NBC Radio. Music and news coverage are the two themes most interested in by students,” the report said. It also found that the Internet is not commonly used in Namibia due to high costs involved. “Most Namibians simply cannot afford to get connected. Of all the media types the Internet is the least frequently used by the Namibian population as a whole. Those that can afford to have access to the Internet primarily surf the Net for ‘lighter’ issues such as entertainment, social issues and sports,” the report concludes.