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Monday, 27 July 2015

Which newspapers most influence public opinion?

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Media Influence, July 2015.

We often hear how newspapers influence public opinion, and there is no doubt that is true. The important question is: which of Australia's major newspapers have the most influence?








To determine this I've developed the following equation: I = A x T (Influence = Audience size x Trust quotient)

The data used to calculate the equation comes from these two pieces of research:


1. Audience size = the Roy Morgan "Cross-platform audiences for newspapers" (published May 7, 2015) which is defined as: 

"The number of Australians who read or accessed a newspaper’s content via print, web or app in an average 7-day period."


2. Trust quotient = the percentage of readers who said they have "a lot of trust" in various newspaper publications, as published by Essential Media on June 30, 2015 from this question: 

"How much trust do you have in what you read in the following newspapers? - A lot of trust, some trust, not much trust, no trust at all, don't know"


This table summarises the calculations:

Newspaper
7 day cross platform audience (‘000s)
“A lot of trust” % of readers
Audience x  trust % ('000s)
Influence index
SMH
3521
18
634
37
The Age
2522
14
353
20.5
Australian
1774
12
213
12.5
Herald Sun
2587
8
207
12
Courier Mail
1952
8
156
9
Telegraph
2547
6
153
9


It tells us that The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has the highest cross-platform audience at 3,521,000 over a 7-day period, and also the highest percentage of readers who have "a lot of trust" in what they read in that publication, measuring at 18%.

When you multiply those figures: 3,521,000 x 18% = 634,000.

That figure is the number of influential encounters that the SMH has in one week. 


The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, while having a high cross-platform audience at 2,547,000 over a 7-day period, has the lowest percentage of readers who have "a lot of trust" in what they read, measuring at only 6%.

Multiplying those figures gives us: 2,547,000 x 6% = 153,000.

That figure is the number of influential encounters that The Daily Telegraph has in one week.


In other words, The SMH with 634,000 influential encounters in one week, has over four times the influence of The Daily Telegraph, with only 153,000 influential encounters in one week. 


The "influence index" (noted in the table above) standardises the gross figures and helps to illustrate the level of influence simply, with The SMH's index measuring at 37 being 4.1 times The Daily Telegraph's index which measures at 9.


The SMH with 634,000 influential encounters has three times the influence of The Australian which has 213,000 influential encounters (reflected in their respective indices, the SMH at 37 vs The Australian at 12.5).


In Victoria, The Age with 353,000 influential encounters in one week, has 1.7 times the influence of the Herald Sun with 207,000 influential encounters in one week, and about 1.65 times the influence of The Australian with 213,000 influential encounters in one week.


Although in both comparisons against The Australian (a national paper) we could assume that the influence of both The SMH and The Age would be greater within NSW and Victoria respectively, but lower in the other states.


We can't really draw a direct comparison in Queensland for The Courier Mail as it is the only major newspaper published in that state, although with only 8% of readers saying they have "a lot of trust" in what they read in the publication its effect on public opinion would be limited.

As for publications in the other states and territories, Essential Media didn't ask the trust question of those readers and so the influence calculation could not be made.








And now, a final word on



Many times we hear reported, "Influential broadcaster, Alan Jones......." 


Hence, I thought it would be worth investigating how much influence Alan Jones does (or does not) have. 

It is estimated his radio audience numbers 150,000 listeners daily. 

Essential Media found (in the same research referred to previously) that only 6% of people had "a lot of trust" in him. Not a particularly flattering result.

However, unlike the newspaper trust figures, on which the calculations were based on actual readers of the paper, the calculations for media commentators were based on respondents who were aware of the commentator, though not necessarily listeners. Therefore, it wouldn't be applicable to use the 6% figure for his audience.

Now, the most trusted commentator in that Essential Media research was found to be Laurie Oakes, with 25% of people saying they had "a lot of trust" in him.

So, let's be overly generous; let's assume 50% of Alan Jones' listeners have "a lot of trust" in him (twice what the Australian population has in Laurie Oakes). 

That would translate to 75,000 influential encounters (150,000 x 50%).

Sydney's population consists of about 3,500,000 adults.

75,000 = 2.1% of that total population.

Australia's population consists of about 18,000,000 adults.

75,000 = 0.4% of that population.

You be the judge. 

Does influencing 2.1% of Sydney and 0.4% of Australia warrant applying the almost mandatory appellation of "influential" to Alan Jones, followed by a series of deeply bowed genuflections? 





Of course, if we did apply the 6% "a lot of trust" figure to Alan Jones' audience of 150,000 listeners, that would translate to a meagre 9,000 influential encounters (150,000 x 6%).

Seriously, you'd get more people at a small Greek wedding. 





5 comments:

  1. So did you discard or give extra weight to "rusted on lovies"?

    ReplyDelete
  2. They're like a gift with purchase.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sydney Morning Herald : At a quick glance the 634,000 "influential encounters" of Sydney's 3,500,000 population comes in at over 10%. Given the networking capacity (digital and otherwise) of these people this is quite a substantial net effect.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice work :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Agree with Anonymous - nice work. But did you look at the AFR and if so what did you find?

    ReplyDelete

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