Readers say immigration and terrorism top issues

By Dominic Ponsford

A new Mori survey has revealed that readers of The Guardian worry
about terrorists and that readers of the Express are most concerned
about immigration.

But it fails to prove whether newspapers lead or follow the opinions of their readers.

When
it comes to defence/foreign affairs, some 52 per cent of Guardian
readers list this as the most important issue facing Britain, compared
to the national average of 37 per cent.

Few would probably be
surprised that readers of the Daily Mail and Daily Express are most
concerned about asylum/ immigration as these papers have tackled the
issue strongly in their news pages.

But according to MORI this does not necessarily mean readers are influenced by these newspapers in their views.

Readers
of the Financial Times are nearly as likely as those of the Mail to be
concerned about asylum, but it devotes far fewer column inches to the
issue.

The polling company said its data was based on 10,000 interviews between January and October 2004.

MORI
research director Bobby Duffy said: “One of the most notable patterns
revealed in this report is that people who do not read any newspapers
tend to be much closer to the average view on all issues, in contrast
to readers of particular papers who show wide variations.

“For
example, in March and April last year there was an increase in concern
about immigration across readers of most papers, when many newspapers
ran stories on the possible increase in immigration as a result of EU
expansion.

However, there was no similar peak among those who do not read any papers.

“This
might appear to support Alan Milburn’s suggestion that it will be vital
to the success of Labour’s election campaign for the party to pay less
attention to the news media.

“But of course it does not really
follow that ignoring what is said in newspapers will get anyone closer
to the concerns of real people. If anything it could be argued that
politicians need to draw from wider across the media to understand the
messages that people are receiving.”

The report also revealed
that certain newspapers have a much stronger readership among MPs than
they do among the general public.

A survey of 100 MPs carried out
in winter 2003 revealed that 56 per cent read The Guardian (comparet
with five per cent of the general public).

The next most popular
papers for MPs were The Times, 54 per cent (general public five per
cent), Evening Standard, 49 per cent (two per cent), Daily Telegraph 41
per cent (six per cent), Independent 33 per cent (three per cent),
Financial Times 28 per cent (one per cent) and Daily Mail 26 per cent
(14 per cent).

Some 22 per cent of MPs read The Sun (general public 17 per cent)n and 20 per cent the Daily Mirror (nine per cent).

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