Pew ranks CNN US as top news source for Hurricane Katrina

MUMBAI: Television, and cable news channels in particular are the main sources of news for most Americans during a crisis. That was again the case for Hurricane Katrina. In a survey the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press revealed CNN to be the number one source in the US for news about Hurricane Katrina. The results are based on a national survey of 1,000 Americans conducted by Pew on 6 and 7 September 2005.     

The survey, conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, found that of those surveyed, 31 per cent cited CNN as one of their main sources for news about Hurricane Katrina, more than any other branded news source. The Fox News Channel and MSNBC also saw sizable, though smaller, audience gains from Katrina. Cable television – CNN in particular – made the greatest gains in audience and was the leading news source during coverage of Hurricane Katrina, up 13 percentage points in viewership in June.

Americans who reported CNN as one of their primary sources of news were more likely to have made a donation to help those affected by the hurricane than Americans who cited the Fox News Channel, the broadcast networks or newspapers as a main source for Hurricane Katrina news. As occurred after 9/11 and during the start of the war in Iraq, the proportion of Americans who cited cable news channels as a main source of news grew dramatically.

In this instance, CNN made the greatest gains. In June, 18 per cent of Americans cited CNN as a source of most of their news about national and international issues. Following Katrina,

Television's larger audience came at the expense of newspapers, the internet and radio. While still a primary source of information for many Americans on the disaster, all three are cited less frequently in this situation than under normal circumstances. Overall, two-thirds give news organizations excellent (28 per cent) or good (37 per cent) ratings for their coverage of the impact of Katrina. This is considerably more favourable than the public's ratings a year ago for press coverage of the presidential election campaign. Current evaluations of coverage are in line with views of other major recent events, though considerably lower than the overwhelmingly positive media ratings following 9/11 (56 per cent excellent, 33 per cent good).

All in all, most (62 per cent ) said that the amount of coverage given to Katrina's aftermath is appropriate, while less than a quarter (21 per cent ) said that there has been too much. There is a considerable partisan divide on this, however ­ Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say there has been too much coverage of the impact of Katrina (27 per cent vs 15 per cent).

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