We study how background characteristics and media branding affect viewers’ perception in Qatar. We conduct an experiment by asking individuals to provide background information and then comment on a 2-minute Al Jazeera clip from 2006 on the Danish Cartoons controversy. However, an element of deception is added when for half the participants we remove the Al Jazeera logo from the clip, add the CNN logo in the beginning and refer to the survey as the CNN Survey.

Out of 600 survey participants we find that religion drives differences in perception for the debate on the Danish Cartoons, but most other background characteristics do not matter. Surprisingly, when we turn to the branding effect we find that faculty's perception changes when the group thinks that the information comes from CNN instead of Al Jazeera. Branding also seems to affect Qataris and individuals who attended a segregated university. It does not affect the students. Finally, we build the profile of Al Jazeera and CNN viewers, and find that more than 60% of the survey participants do not consider Al Jazeera or CNN as their main source of information. This result points to the importance of social media as an alternative source of information in the Qatar, and more general in the Middle East.


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