Washington: Faced with strong censorship of news in China and restrictions on its flow from outside, Tibetans in the age of Internet revolution depend mostly on the age old "word of mouth" practice to disseminate news.
A survey result released yesterday showed that Tibetans are spreading news and information that they hear from Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Voice of America (VOA) with others in their community on a regular basis.
The study, carried out by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup, said Tibetans take pride in sharing news actively within their trusted social circles.
While 89 percent of Tibetan travellers surveyed had televisions in their homes, none considered any official Chinese state media outlet their main reliable news source.
Nearly three quarters (74 percent) say other people are their top source for reliable news.
Asked to name up to three reliable sources of news and information, 94 percent named word-of-mouth sources, the survey results said.
The findings were gathered by Gallup during face-to-face interviews with 117 subjects reached during the Dalai Lama's recent Kalachakra teachings in Bodhgaya, Bihar, between December 25, 2011 and January 15, 2012.
Respondents included travellers coming from Amdo, Kham, and Utsang regions of Tibet.
"Gatherings such as these provide us with a unique opportunity to understand the changes that are taking place in how Tibetans access and share news amongst themselves," said Rajesh Srinivasan, the principal researcher at Gallup.
The study also shows new possibilities for mobile phones and other digital media for disseminating news and information.
Texting has become a common mode of communication in Tibet, with more than four out of 10 (44 percent) of those surveyed reporting that they had sent or received texts on their mobile phones.
"Research is critical to fulfilling our mission of fostering free, open, democratic societies through free press and free expression," said Sherman.
First Published: Friday, July 27, 2012, 15:58