News Media Exposure and Political Communication among Libyan Elites at the Time of War

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Many critical questions concerning the relationship between the news media and political knowledge involve the extent to which the media facilitate learning about news, war and politics. Political awareness - via the news media - affects virtually every aspect of citizens’ political attitudes and behaviours. This paper examines how Libyan elites adopt the news media to access news and information regarding the current Libyan war and politics and how they use political communication and new media to build/spread political awareness. With the expansion of private and state-owned television in Libya, concern has grown that these new TV services will survive in providing information about citizens’ interests, including the new, developing political scene. A total of 134 highly educated Libyan professionals completed an online survey, reporting their perceptions of issues covered by national TV services. This account centres on how those elites consume the media and what level of trust they have in the media and in information and what the role of the media in their country should be. The results show that most respondents, especially those who live outside the country, prefer using different Libyan news platforms. However, 50 per cent of these do not trust these channels as a source of information regarding the civil war, associated conflicts and politics in general. They have grown weary of coverage that represents the interests of those who run or own the services and consequently place little trust in the media. Spreading ‘lies as facts’ has affected the credibility of these services. Politically, these respondents wish the media to discuss solutions and act as a force for good, not for division. They also differed in the number and variety of national news sources that they reportedly used. This paper also highlights the role of social media, mobile telephony and the Internet, as well as the rapidly proliferating private and national media. These findings are also discussed in relation to the growing impact of online sources in Libyan society, social and political change and the emergence of new media platforms as new sources of information.

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