Television remains the main source of information for citizens.
DEMOSCOPE Bureau of Express Monitoring of Public Opinion conducted the polling on the theme Quality and perception of information sources during the pandemic in Kazakhstan. In total 1100 people were interviewed in 14 regions and Nur-Sultan, Almaty, Shymkent from February 27 to March 4, 2021. The survey was conducted in the Kazakh and Russian languages through telephone calls to landline numbers.
The survey involved 53% of men and 47% of women over 18 years old. The sample was based on the subscriber base of stationary telephone numbers in Kazakhstan. For this sample, the maximum size of the statistical error with a probability of 95% does not exceed 3%.
The results of the DEMOSCOPE study showed that the majority of people in Kazakhstan are interested in news about the spread of the coronavirus. Only 11% answer that they do not follow information about COVID-19. 43% of respondents follow the news very closely, and 28% quite closely.
It is noteworthy that television is the main source of information about the coronavirus. 91% indicate TV as the main information resource about the pandemic, while two-thirds of respondents (72%) watch Kazakh TV channels, and 19% – foreign ones.
It could be assumed that the survey methodology leads to such a result. However, the majority of respondents are 25-44 years old (47%), while the share of respondents over 65 years old is only 8%.
The second largest source of information is social networks (24%), and the third place is taken by online publications (20%).
According to the Deloitte study on media consumption in Russia, the level of trust in television as a source of information in 2020 decreased among Russians by 5 percentage points, to 23%. This share of the respondents chooses TV as the most preferred source of information. Perhaps this trend will be recorded in Kazakhstan with the development of broadband Internet in the regions.
Media experts claim a global crisis of trust between government, media and citizens – people trust WhatsApp messages more than traditional sources of information. This crisis gave rise to infodemia, a flood of misinformation about the coronavirus and aggravated the process of political communications in general.
The results of the DEMOSCOPE survey show that the majority of Kazakhstanis (39%) find it difficult to determine which news about the coronavirus are true and which are not, 32% of respondents find it difficult to answer the question. And only a third of those surveyed are confident that they can easily identify fake news.
One of the key indicators during a pandemic is the level of citizens’ trust in information sources. According to the survey, almost half of Kazakhstanis (46%) are convinced that the most reliable information about the coronavirus is disseminated by doctors and medical personnel.
A fifth of the respondents (19%) trust the official authorities of Kazakhstan and the World Health Organization in this matter. In third place in terms of authority are scientists and experts, they are named by 14% of respondents. For 10% of respondents, people they know personally are the most trusted. In total, 8% of citizens tend to trust bloggers and ordinary users of social networks.
According to the DEMOSCOPE Bureau, the vast majority of citizens (65%) believe that wearing masks reduces the risk of getting coronavirus. However, 21% of respondents disagree with this statement.
More than half of the respondents tend to trust the authorities and disagree with the statement that the government of Kazakhstan underestimates the real scale of the infected and dead due to COVID-19. On the contrary, 23% of respondents do not trust the government.
It is significant that public opinion has not changed regarding the danger of coronavirus infection. DEMOSCOPE polls conducted in March and June 2020 showed that about half of citizens consider COVID-19 to be a serious threat to human health. The current survey also showed that 50% of Kazakhstanis disagree with the statement that the threat of coronavirus is exaggerated and that it is similar to flu. A quarter of the respondents opposed them, considering the fears excessive.
During the pandemic, various conspiracy theories are being actively disseminated in Kazakhstan. One of the most popular fake narratives is the report that the coronavirus is allegedly spreading through 5G towers. According to the survey, 48% of respondents do not believe this statement, however 6% believe in the fake theory, 45% cannot decide on the answer.
The results of the DEMOSCOPE study showed that the effectiveness of information policy and the promptness of the provision of official information are quite high, which does not negate the need to improve the quality of this work, as well as the level of media literacy of the population. A significant proportion of citizens are vulnerable to disinformation and tend to distrust the state, despite the unexpectedly dominant position of TV as a source of information.
*The sum of the % in Questions 2 and 4 is more than 100% since the question is multiple, i.e. the respondents were asked to pick several answers.
The telephone survey was carried out by KT Cloud Lab LLP Contact Center.
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The project is implemented by MediaNet International Centre for Journalism with the support of Konrad Adenauer Foundation Office in Kazakhstan. The survey data reflect the point of view of the respondents. For additional information, please, contact Snezhana Tsoy, project coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org.