By: Dr. Khalid Al-Soufi
My name is Khalid Al-Soufi, and I am Assistant Professor at Sana’a University. I recently concluded a study investigating both to what degree Yemenis youth trust local news sources and how they feel about Arab rulers.
The study, entitled “The media’s role in forming the mental image of Arab rulers following the Arab Spring,” concluded that non-Yemeni news channels topped the list of news sources for Yemeni youths.
“Yemenis also depended on different sources to get news about the Arab Spring which, including personal contacts, private Yemeni channels, private newspapers, social media, partisan newspapers, Yemeni government channels, Yemeni news websites, non-Yemeni radio and, finally, Yemeni newspapers respectively,” stated the study. The fact that personal contacts came in second shows the importance of personal relations to Yemenis. The results also indicate that Yemenis lost their trust in the various government media outlets, which came in last on the lists.
According to the study’s results, Yemeni youths depend on these sources to find their news because they [the youths] analyze the news, seek out the most credible sources. “This study suggests that Yemeni youths are pushed by cognitive causes to follow up with the news.”
The study also touched on the fact that a certain portion of the study’s population didn’t follow the news because of a lack of leisure time, because they weren’t interested in the events of the Arab Spring, were opposed to the events of the Arab Spring, or because they didn’t trust media outlets.
The study also investigated how positive the images of Arab rulers were in the minds of Yemeni youths. The conclusion was that Yemeni youths look upon Arab rulers negatively, and believed they were cruel when dealing with their own people. The study’s results showed that Yemeni youths strongly agreed with negative statements – and disagreed with positive ones – about Arab rulers. “Youths agreed that rulers depend on loyalties rather than on qualifications when appointing people to the most sensitive positions in government, and that they seek to perpetuate their power, pass it on to their families, and that they expand their influence in order to attain absolute power,” the study stated.
Youths also supported statements about Arab rulers controlling their countries’ sources of wealth, about their considering themselves more important than their people, their expansion of the influence of their relatives, and that they were willing to neglect national principles in order to stay in power. According to the study’s outcomes, youths agreed that Arab rulers bring people who lack impartiality close to them, that they don’t consider average people the real custodians of power and, furthermore, that they don’t keep the promises they make.
Moreover, participants in the study strongly agreed that Arab rulers work to obliterate any positive traces of former rulers, and that they create strong bonds between their governments and businessmen. On the other hand, the study participants disagreed that Arab rulers paid a lot of attention to intellectual elites and to scientific competency.
The study’s significance lies in the fact that it investigated rarely-discussed issues, in particular how Yemeni youths view Arab Rulers.
The study participants were from Sana’a, the most densely-populated city in Yemen. Sana’a’s population includes citizens from both rural and urban areas, as the capital city’s population reflects that of various governorates. 400 randomly chosen individuals participated in the study, and all were trained by researchers. The questionnaire was distributed among three distinct divisions: high, middle and low classes. The study also avoided participants from the Change Square area to prevent any possible biases.