Public Blames Media Partially for Being Blindsided by the Recession

According to a recent 52-nation online survey conducted by The Nielsen Company, most respondents worldwide are pointing their finger at the media, blaming it partially for doing a poor job informing the public about the issues leading up to the current financial crisis.

In every region, except Latin America, the percent of people who agreed or strongly agreed that media coverage was inadequate outnumbered those who disagreed — by two-to-one.

The two regions where consumers were most dissatisfied were Europe and North America. Not surprisingly, these were the areas hit hardest by the current economic crisis. GDP in Western Europe and North America were the lowest among all regions covered.

In North America, 51% agreed that coverage leading up to the crisis was inadequate compared to 20% who disagreed. In Europe, 48% agreed compared to 22%.

On the other hand, consumers in many Asia Pacific nations, where the impact of the economy hasn’t been as harsh, were generally less critical of the media.

Discrepancies between nations also reflect varying levels of consumer confidence.

Although Nielsen’s broader survey of global consumer confidence reported a near-universal decline across the world’s population, expectations plummeted significantly in Russia, Hungary and Latvia. These were among the countries where media fared worst. Moreover, among the top five countries where consumers believed there was not enough coverage of the global crisis, four also are where media fared least well overall.

Attitudes about early media coverage were most positive, however, in the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, Venezuela and India, all of which scored above the global average.

Factors that drove the failure to communicate were varied.

Some critics have argued that the financial media was too close to those it covered. What is more, the speed of negative events following the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy filing caught not only journalists by surprise, but also economists and government officials.

Yet it hasn’t been all bad news for the media. Globally, many of the 25,000-plus consumers polled between March 19 and April 2 believe their performance has improved over time. In much of the Asia Pacific region, the public thought the media was doing a good job in providing information about what the issues are and what governments are doing to address them. And in North America, 50 percent said the current media “is helping me to better understand what governments are doing to solve the problems.” This is almost a complete reversal from opinions

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