Continuing from where we left off last week, today we look at A&G Research Company study and survey data as we shift our focus to the media's influence on the public and the impact of newspaper headlines as well their aesthetics and press quality
Uncovering how the public perceives media is important since it tells us not only where we are when it comes to our credibility, but also where we are lacking when it comes to reaching specific demographics. In the previous week's article, "The public's perception of media," we looked at where the various newspapers stand compared to their competitors. Even though Daily Sabah – or other English-language dailies based in Turkey – were not included in the survey, it is important to have tangible data on the actual rankings of Turkish dailies, and by featuring these here we allow our foreign readers to get a better read on the current status of Turkish media.
Let us start by giving you the specifics of the survey. Undertaken by A&G Research Company in March 2016, the survey deals with current perceptions of media in Turkey. For the survey, 22,318 subjects were asked a series of questions face-to-face, such as "What are the most frequently read newspapers?" or "What are the most trustworthy newspapers?" On the demographics of the survey, allow me to quote the previous article: "Field work for the research was done March 5-15. Of the 22,318 surveyed, 10,601 were women. For good representation, subjects were chosen from all seven geographical regions with 44 cities, 1,126 districts and villages. The distribution of the population between rural and urban areas was considered during the selection process. The company projected a maximum error margin of 2.5 percent. Another important point stated at the start of the research was that for some questions, even the answers of people who stated that they do not buy or read newspapers daily were considered. Considering this was perception research, learning an outsider's view of newspapers could be beneficial."
In last week's article, we focused more or less on questions that dealt with public perception and featured these questions on top of the two I mentioned above:
"Which newspaper do you think is closest to women?"
"Which newspaper do you think is closest to the younger generation?" (The younger generation in question refers to those between the ages 20 to 30) and
"Which newspaper has the best supplements?"
Prepared according to data from A&G Research Co. (Graphics by Merve Güneş)
In this second part we mainly look at questions that tell us about the media's ability to influence the public. As the fourth estate, the media has the ability not only to unearth issues that the editorial board thinks the public needs to know, but also to hold a magnifying glass on existing issues to stir up public interest. There are many cases in history where a newspaper manages to shift the entire agenda of the public from unrelated matters to a singular story, and this power of the media continues to be a subject for debates and political campaigns.
The first question from A&G's survey focuses on just that. By looking at the question "Which newspaper shapes the public agenda?" we see what the public thinks about the influence of different newspapers.
In this category, our sister newspaper, the Sabah daily, seems to be at the forefront with 8.3 percent. The Hürriyet daily is in second place with 6.8 percent, followed by Habertürk with 5 percent. The gap between the last three newspapers narrows, since Sözcü daily is at 4.6 percent, Milliyet is at 4.5 percent and Posta is at 4.4 percent. It is important to point out that those who previously answered that they do not read any of the newspapers daily were still asked this question. Also, 50.3 percent of subjects decided to answer the question with "no comment."
In the case of the three major cities: İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir, the rankings are very similar to the previous week's categories. Sabah is in the lead in İstanbul with 12.7 percent, Hürriyet takes Ankara with 11.2 percent, and Sözcü continues to lead in İzmir with 5.4 percent.
If we are to omit those who previously stated that they do not read any of the newspapers daily, the ranking stays the same with some percentage changes. Sabah is at 10.6 percent, while Hürriyet is at 9.1 percent. The gap between Habertürk and Sözcü is closer this time with 6.7 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Milliyet and Posta are closer with 5.8 and 5.7 percent, respectively. Cumhuriyet daily sits at 4 percent, while Zaman is at 2.4 percent. In this case, 33.7 percent of subjects offered no comment.
These numbers don't tell us definitively which newspaper is most influential, that much is true. But it does tell us which newspaper the public thinks is the most influential, and that is close enough to determine influence.
Effect of headlines
The process of reading a newspaper is quite subjective. One person believes reading a newspaper properly is to read every page regardless of its subject such as Politics, International, Culture or Sports. Some think that even though news articles are important, the real reason and process of reading a newspaper is looking through its unique columns sections. There are many who don't bother with all of the above, opting to just look at the headlines of a newspaper to get their daily news.
You guessed it. The next question we look at deals with headlines and their effect on the public: "Which newspaper has the most effective headline?"
In this category, the Sabah daily once again is in the lead with 7.8 percent, followed by the Hürriyet daily with 6.2 percent. After these two, we see the Posta daily at 5.6 percent, Sözcü at a solid 5 percent and Habertürk at 4.5 percent. The last two newspapers in the ranking are Milliyet and Cumhuriyet, with 4.3 and 3.2 percent, respectively. Once again these numbers include those who do not read newspapers daily, but it could include those who glance at headlines, so they are more relevant here than other categories. Finally 49.4 percent of subjects offered no comment.
The distribution in the three major cities is similar to the previous category, with Sabah leading in İstanbul, Hürriyet in Ankara and Sözcü in İzmir.
If we are to disregard those who do not read any of the newspapers daily, rankings stay roughly the same with percentage changes. To convey the full picture, let us add those numbers as well. Sabah is at 9.8 percent, Hürriyet is at 8.4 percent, Posta is at 7.4 percent, Sözcü is at 7 percent, Habertürk is at 6.1 percent, Milliyet is at 5.5 percent, and Cumhuriyet is at 4.4 percent. In this case, however, the rankings include four other newspapers with a more sizeable gap between the last newspapers we mentioned above. Zaman is at 2.4 percent, followed by Taraf with 2 percent. Last place in the ranking is shared by Akşam and Takvim with 1.9 percent each. Finally 32.3 percent offered "no comment."
Design of newspapers
Prepared according to data from A&G Research Co. (Graphics by Merve Güneş)
The next two categories are on another subject entirely, focusing not on the content but on the aesthetics of newspapers. After all, a little eye candy never hurts when selling newspapers, and when it comes to designing the newspapers the competition gets fierce. The first question is "Which newspaper is easy to read?"
In this category let us only feature the ranking where the people who do not read newspapers daily are omitted, since we are not dealing with perception of influence and the rankings stay mainly the same with percentage changes.
Sabah continues the trend with a solid 11 percent, but only by a small margin since Posta is in second place with 10.3 percent. Habertürk comes next with 8.9 percent, followed by Hürriyet at 7.6 percent. After these four, Sözcü and Milliyet are at 5.5 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. I would like to note here that the ranking difference I mentioned was about these two newspapers. When even non-readers were considered, both of these newspapers were tied at 3.9 percent. Lastly, Cumhuriyet is at 2.3 percent, along with Zaman and Takvim tied at 2.3 percent. Of readers, 28.1 percent offered no comment.
The design of newspapers in Turkey are a cause of mild debate, and continually criticized for being too chaotic, especially in the case of their front pages. A study on design alone would go a long way when it comes to determine what the public expects when it comes to the design of their newspapers.
The second category on this subject delves into the core of every newspaper: the paper's quality. Asking, "Which newspaper has the best print quality?" the survey provides us with an answer. Or to be more precise, the subjects do.
Just like in the previous quality, we feature the ranking where those who do not read newspapers daily are omitted.
In this case, we see a shift as Habertürk daily is in the lead with a huge gap and a solid 17 percent. Sabah comes second with 9.8 percent, followed by Posta with 8.1 percent. Hürriyet, Milliyet and Sözcü are at 7.5 percent, 5 percent, and 3.6 percent, respectively. Zaman and Cumhuriyet are tied at 2.3 percent, and Takvim is at 1.9 percent. Of subjects, 32.9 percent offered no comment.
With these categories dealt with, we are left with two more questions in this survey, but let us delve into them in a future article in order not to break the two main themes in this article. In last week's article, we studied the Turkish media under the titles of perception and demographics. This week we looked at influence as well as aesthetics.
In terms of influence, we congratulate Sabah since it grabbed the lead in these categories, but from an aesthetic viewpoint it becomes more of a tie with Habertürk's huge lead in print quality. I congratulate both newspapers for their success.
Let us end this article by repeating our call for and interest in a survey with similar questions, while including English-language newspapers such as Daily Sabah.