Americans say they are closely following news of the war in Iraq, and a majority approves of the way the war coverage is being reported.
In a FOX News poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, at the end of the first week of war, 92 percent of the public say they are closely following the military action in Iraq with almost two-thirds (64 percent) saying they are following the news "very" closely.
More than half (56 percent) approve of the way newspapers and television stations have been reporting on the war, and 33 percent disapprove. While there are no apparent gender or partisan differences on this issue, approval of the coverage is stronger among supporters of the war — 60 percent of those who support the war approve of the reporting compared to 44 percent of those who oppose the war.
A slim majority (53 percent) says news coverage of the war has been generally balanced, about a quarter (27 percent) think the coverage has been pro-war while only eight percent say it has been anti-war. Again, there are major differences between supporters and opponents of the war — supporters are more likely (by +18 percentage points) to say coverage is balanced, and opponents are much more likely to say coverage is pro-war (by +29 percentage points).
Some (14 percent) think anti-war protests should be receiving more press coverage, but a majority (60 percent) thinks the protests are receiving too much coverage and 20 percent think the protesters are getting the right amount of press time. In addition, about two-thirds of Americans are concerned the current anti-war protests are distracting law enforcement officials from their regular duties.
On average, respondents say they are spending about three hours a day watching or listening to news coverage of the war. The majority (60 percent) spends two hours or less each day, but a news-hungry four percent say they spend more than 10 hours per day getting updated on war news.
With reporters and television cameras traveling with units of U.S. troops in Iraq, this past week Americans have been able to see more intense coverage of military action than ever before. Almost half (49 percent) say they want to hear and see as many details as possible, but a third say the in-depth news coverage makes them feel "too close to the war action."
"It is notable that younger people and men are more likely to want to see and hear the details," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman. "Older people and women are more inclined to feel put off by the intensity of the coverage."
Polling was conducted by telephone March 25-26, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Results are of registered voters, unless otherwise noted.
1. How closely are you following news stories about the war in Iraq?
2. How closely are you following news stories about anti-war protests?
3. Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way newspapers and television channels have been reporting on the war in Iraq?
4. Do you think news coverage of the war in Iraq has generally been more pro-war, more anti-war or has it generally been balanced?
5. Do you think anti-war protests are receiving too much news coverage or not enough coverage?
6. How concerned are you that anti-war protests are distracting police and other law enforcement officials from their regular duties?
7. Many reporters are traveling with units of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and therefore are able to provide more intense coverage of the action than has ever been available before. Does this in-depth news coverage make you feel too close to the war action or do you want to see and hear as many details as possible?
8. How many hours a day would you say you watch or listen to news coverage of the war? (Open)