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US citizens unaware of key facts in news: Survey


A recent survey in the United States indicates that most US citizens are unaware of crucial facts surrounding the news covered in the media, with some respondents identifying Hosni Mubarak as Israel’s current prime minister.

The Pew Research Center conducted the News IQ quiz and asked 12 questions about the news covered by the media.

Less than half of the respondents answered some questions correctly and in some cases only less than 30 percent were correct.

The results of the survey show that the understanding of the public about the news could be totally incorrect.

When asked in which of the predominantly Muslim countries there are more Shia Muslims than Sunni Muslims, only 29 percent correctly said Iran.

About the US government’s spending, 20 percent answered correctly that the government is spending mostly on social security.

According to the survey, just 38 percent of the respondents could identify Benjamin Netanyahu as the current prime minister of Israel. Eleven percent said Ariel Sharon is the prime minister, seven percent said Hosni Mubarak and one percent said David Cameron.

Some 24 percent named Janet Yellen as the current chair of the Federal Reserve Board.

The poll said 46 percent are able to identify Liberia from among four African countries as the one that has experienced the Ebola outbreak.

Regarding the domestic economy, 33 percent know the unemployment rate is currently closest to 6 percent; many estimate it higher.

According to the survey, 73 percent is able to correctly identify the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (from a list of other amounts ranging from $5.25 to $12.50).

About US-led airstrikes against ISIL in the Middle East, 67 percent can identify Syria as one of the countries in which the group currently controls territory (from a list that included Pakistan, Kuwait and Egypt).

Sixty percent also know that Ukraine was once part of the Soviet Union; the other choices were Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Scandinavia, the poll found.

The survey was conducted September 25-28 among 1,002 adults and older Americans displayed higher levels of news knowledge than young people.

Dan Cassino, professor of political science at Farleigh Dickinson University, said Americans are often quite good by international standards at answering this kind of question.

The professor suggested this may be because the US media is more likely to focus on personalities rather than process.

According to Cassino, citizens of countries like Germany and Switzerland tend to do better at answering questions which depend on knowledge of foreign policy.

“In Europe there’s a lot more coverage of international news,” he was quoted as saying by BBC. But “it’s much easier to ignore international politics if you live in the US.”

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