An abstracted bar graph of poll resultsOn March 27, blogger Carpe Diem posted analysis of two polls that had been published in the Tunisian newspaper Le Temps. Carpe Diem (hereafter CD) is a member of Nawaat, a trilingual Tunisian collective blog chock-full with coverage of news and politics and rich multimedia content (click on the Nawaat 2.0 Hub in the top menu bar), which is where I found the post.
A little background: While Internet infrastructure in Tunisia is robust, the government censors heavily. According to the Open Net Initiative‘s 2009 country report, “the government continues to pervasively block a range of Web content and has used nontechnical means to impede journalists and human rights activists from doing their work. The filtering of political content and restrictions on online activity has prompted frequent criticism from foreign governments and human rights organizations, and online protest campaigns from Tunisian Internet users.”
A quick summary of CD’s post for those who don’t read French: The blogger begins by writing about polls in general and how they are not worth paying much attention to, because the themes are often silly and futile, and their construction haphazard. He adds that there isn’t really a culture of polls in Tunisia. “Opinion being strictly controlled, or rather “framed” according to government terminology, polls don’t have a place in a country of censorship.” (The translation is mine, so please correct me if I’ve made a mistake.)
He goes on to describe the polls and what he sees. What do you think about blogs? is the (silly) question in the first poll, with the following response rates (CD suggests that readers judge the relevance for themselves):

  1. They’re not good for anything. 34.7%
  2. They’re not bad. 21.4%
  3. They’re cool. 9.2%
  4. They’re really great. 7.1%
  5. I don’t have an opinion. 27.6%

CD analyzes the results: 37 percent have an interest in blogs, 34 percent think they’re useless, 28 percent have no opinon. From this, he says, one could assert that negative and positive opinion about blogging is about equal.
The second poll, run later, asks, Do you buy the newspaper? The response rates:

  1. Everyday. 25.4%
  2. Once per week. 25.4%
  3. Rarely. 23.1%
  4. Never. 26.1%

We can certainly doubt the results, says CD, but it seems clear that the real question posed behind these polls is that of the readership of newspapers vis-a-vis the readership of blogs. And the question really posed today in the era of the journalism of disinformation and propaganda: Who will still read if we suppress the news, advertising, sports, and obituaries?

Blogger: Carpe Diem
The post:
Qui fait attention aux sondages qui paraissent sur les sites des journaux et quotidiens tunisiens? Personnellement pas trop, les thèmes choisis sont souvent légers ou futiles, et leur construction hasardeuse…
C’est que nous n’avons pas encore la culture du sondage en Tunisie. L’opinion étant strictement contrôlée, ou plutôt “encadrée” selon la terminologie gouvernementale, les sondages n’ont pas lieu d’être dans le pays de la censure.
Mais… les deux derniers sondages parus sur le site du journal LeTemps retiennent l’attention. Le sondage de la semaine dernière traitait des blogs, une fois n’est pas coutume…Avec une question “bateau” : Que pensez-vous des blogs? et le choix entre 4 réponses dont je vous laisse juger la pertinence:

A bar graph showing the poll results

Le résultat est intéressant : environ 37% des répondants portent un intérêt aux blogs, 34% pensent qu’ils sont inutiles, et 28% n’ont pas d’opinion. On peut croire qu’il y a autant d’opinions positives que d’opinions négatives exprimées par les sondés au sujet des blogs.
Ces résultats prennent encore plus de sens si l’on consulte le sondage suivant, paru cette semaine, qui concerne cette fois les journaux :

A bar graph showing the poll results

On peut certes douter de la représentativité de ces résultats. Mais il semble clair que la vraie question posée derrière ces sondages est celle du lectorat des journaux face à celui, encore tout relatif, des blogs. Et la question se pose vraiment aujourd’hui à l’ère du journalisme de désinformation et de propagande : qui les lirait encore si on supprimait les pages d’annonce, de pub, de sport et de nécrologie?
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