Family and friends trump media for information

Citizens here are closely tied to family and friends when they seek information but most also believe that liberty of expression is a reality.

Despite the Internet, television is still the dominant medium through which residents here receive information. Still when that question was asked in 2003, only 3 percent of those interviewed mentioned the Internet. Now the Internet is cited by 70.9 percent of those questioned, and social networks are cited by 43.1 percent.

These findings come from a survey done last October by the Instituto de Estudios Sociales en Población at Universidad Nacional and the journalists’ professional group, the Colegio de Periodistas. Results were released this year.

The goal was to learn the perceptions of Costa Ricans and other residents with more than two years in the country about media of communications.

When 82 percent of the respondents needed to seek information for an important decision they went to family or friends, according to the results that are published on the Colegio Web site. Not only that, but 80.2 percent of the respondents said they trusted family and friends the most.

Television was in second place, cited by 73.4 percent of the respondents as the source for information on an important issue. Publications were cited by 62.8 percent.

Some 50.9 percent said they would use the Internet to seek information for an important decision. And 30.5 percent said they would see their clergyman.

As is usually the case in such surveys, government, legislators and political parties fared badly in trust. Government was trusted as a source of information by 20.1 percent, legislators by 16.5 percent and political parties by 16.3.

The telephone surveyors contacted 400 persons. They also wanted to know if those who answered the calls thought the news media was censored. Some 213 persons, 61.9 percent, thought there was at least some censorship, mainly by supervisors, the powerful or by fear of reprisal.

Yet 89.7 percent said that liberty of expression was either partly a reality or totally a reality in Costa Rica. Just 6 percent said this was not true.

The institute and the Colegio have been conducting surveys like this for 10 years, in part to help with training.

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