Four in Ten (40%) Canadians Believe Their Own Media Engage in Murdoch “News of the World” Like Phone Hacking, Payments to Obtain News Tips


Mass mediaTORONTO – It appears that Canadians are in step with people in other countries when it comes to believing what they read or see in the traditional media. In light of the recent media scandal in England involving a number of newspapers under the control of Rupert Murdoch, four in ten (40%) Canadians believe that things like phone hacking and paying for tips are happening here amongst the Canadian media, according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of the Canadian Journalism Foundation. Two in ten (16%) believe they’re ‘not going on here in Canada’, while four in ten (44%) are unsure as to whether or not they are.

Prior to asking Canadians about whether they believe these types of activities are taking place in Canada, respondents were asked whether or not they believe Canadian journalists ought to receive accreditation before working in the news media. A majority (56%) believes that ‘in order to be a Canadian journalist who works for a newspaper, television or radio outlet, the journalist should be accredited by some form of industry-wide standards body – something they should have before they are allowed to be hired’. Conversely, a minority (44%) says that ‘a Canadian journalist who works for a newspaper, television or radio outlet has an employer who has evaluated their skill set and talent, knows what’s best for their kind of media and can fire them if they are bad at their job’, and so there’s ‘no reason for any formal kind of accreditation for who can or can’t be a journalist’.

In England earlier this year, it was learned that a number of newspapers under the control of Rupert Murdoch admitted that they had hired private investigators who tapped into or hacked phone systems of celebrities, politicians and even victims of crime and recorded private conversations or messages. These conversations were then transcribed and then used as part of stories that were published. It was also learned that the newspaper management authorized payments to members of the local police force to obtain tips or information on things that shouldn’t have been disclosed, like the schedule of the Royal Family.

Among the four in ten (40%) who believe these types of activities are happening in Canada, seven in ten (71%) believe that both phone hacking/recording and payment for tips are taking place, while one quarter (23%) believe only payments are taking place, and 4% believe only phone hacking/recording is taking place.

Thinking specifically about phone hacking and recordings, four in ten (38%) who think these things are happening think they happen ‘all the time’, while a majority (53%) thinks it only happens ‘some of the time’. Just 9% think it happens only ‘rarely’. Regarding the exchange of payments for tips, among those who think it’s going on here in Canada, nearly half (46%) believe it happens ‘all the time’, while half (51%) believe it happens only ‘some of the time’. Just 3% think it rarely happens.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between October 6 to 10, 2011, on behalf of the Canadian Journalism Foundation. For this survey, a sample of 1,014 adults from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and political composition to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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