Occupy who?

Occupy Wall Street began a little more than four months ago, yet, a University of Delaware study shows one third of Americans know little to nothing about the movement or the message.

“It really did surprise me that about 20 percent reported having heard nothing at all about these protests,” said Dr. Danna Young. An assistant professor of communication at UD, Young teamed up with professor of communication, Paul Brewer, to conduct the study. 

Dr. Young says the numbers say more about media outlets, rather than how tuned in Americans are to current events, or the effectiveness of Occupiers getting their message out.

“I think that there are some outlets that will probably more likely to include coverage of the Occupy movement than others and perhaps there are people who are out there who either are not in the flow of information, so had not had the opportunity to hear anything about the Occupy movement, or perhaps were tuning into media outlets that maybe did not pay significant amount of attention to the movement,” said Young.

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According to UD, the “Perceptions of the Occupy Wall Street Protests Survey” conducted telephone interviews with a nationwide sample of 901 adults living in the United States. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies and the margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.8 percentage points.

And while hearing one-third of the nation’s population knows little or nothing about the Occupy movement, you can’t ignore another significant number, Dr. Young said.

“So while you could frame it and say, you know, wow, a third have no idea or a third wrongly say the protests are about too much regulation on business and industry… I still think it’s important to note that two-thirds of those who had heard something about the protest did know what its underlying message was (which is that too few (1%) control the majority of the nation’s wealth and power),” said Young.

The study is part of a larger study the university says it is currently working on, focusing on how the Occupy Wall Street movement is covered across different media outlets, and how that coverage might affect people exposed to it, in terms of their perception of the protests.

Survey Questions and Results

Princeton Survey Research Associates International administered the survey. The university says surveyors asked questions including: 

“How much have you heard or read over the past few months about the protests and rallies held in New York City and other cities, called Occupy Wall Street: a lot, some, not much or none at all?”

40.5% = a lot
27.1% = some
13.2% = not much
19.2% = none at all

“Which do you think comes closest to the protestors’ main message?” Is it that too few people control the majority of the nation’s wealth and power OR that there is too much regulation on business and industry?”

66.3% = too few control majority of nation’s wealth and power
18.7% = too much regulation on business and industry
15% = other and don’t know

“Please tell me how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statement about the Occupy Wall Street protests: ‘The protesters offered new insights on social issues.'”

22.6% = strongly agree
37.3% = somewhat agree
17.6% = somewhat disagree
22.5% = strongly disagree

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