The Ring of Truth

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When it comes to trustworthiness in the media, African Americans put the bulk of their faith in each other, according to a recent study by the African American Markets Group (AAMG), a unit of Ketchum Public Relations Worldwide. The publications with the highest ratings for credibility were black magazines like Essence and Ebony. The second-most-reliable medium for product information was Consumer Reports.

The study, conducted with Florida A&M University's School of Business and Industry, was launched with focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago, and Oakland, California. The focus groups' responses led to the development of a 17-question telephone survey that was conducted with 503 respondents around the country. All respondents were black, between the ages of 21 and 65, born in the United States, and earned at least $20,000 a year.

While 85.5 percent of the respondents said their leading source of information about companies, products, and services is local television news, almost as many, 82.3 percent, said they seek such information in magazines specifically aimed at African Americans. Some 77.5 percent said they go to their local paper for product information, and 76.9 percent watch national news.

When it comes to how much the respondents trust different media, the answers were notably different. In this category, black magazines scored highest: 87 percent of the people who read these publications said they trust the product information they find there. Betsy Helgager, vice president of AAMG, attributes this to the information's coming from a black perspective. "They know that the reporters are black, and the doctors who give counsel. That's a key component."

Consumer Reports ranked second in terms of reliability, with 80.8 percent of the respondents saying they trust the information that they find there. And despite being unaware that the magazine's policy is to not accept advertising, they believed the magazine to be exceptionally objective. African Americans see the publication as being "raceless," according to Helgager. "They see it as a kind of watchdog publication that just lays out the facts."

The survey results came as a pleasant surprise to researchers like Charles Daviet, associate director at Consumer Reports. He points out that the magazine consistently rates high for credibility in surveys, but adds, "It's a surprise to me in that we haven't done any research in that segment of the population. It would certainly be a good long-term strategy for us to be focusing on black, Hispanic, and Asian communities to look for ways to draw them in."

Black-owned TV news and local black-owned newspapers also scored high for trustworthiness, with 80.2 and 79.7 percent, respectively, of the respondents saying they trust the information they get there.

The AAMG study also asked respondents to name who they thought would make the most effective company spokesperson. Jesse Jackson led the pack with 10.1 percent of the vote. Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey trailed with 8.5 and 7.4 percent, respectively. Among non-African Americans, President Bill Clinton ranked highest with 2 percent, and Ralph Nader placed with 1 percent.

Sleep Patterns We spend an average of seven-and-a-half hours a night in dreamland-the same amount of time as we spend working. In a lifetime, that adds up to 220,000 hours or approximately one-third of our lives. (Considerable, but not as bad as cats who doze away 15 hours a day.)

Roughly two-thirds of us consider sleep a necessity rather than a pastime. For many of us, it's dispensable. If there was a pill that would refresh and restore us the way sleep does, most of us would gladly pop it, leaving more time for sex, TV, partying, and work.

Just about the same number of people sleep on their left side as on their right-34.2 percent each. A fourth of us sleep on our stomachs and 14 percent on our backs. Age, income, and geographic area don't make a difference: the only thing that might affect our sleep position is whether we do it alone.

Two-thirds of us prefer a firm mattress to a soft one, but roughly four of every ten of us-41 percent-think a standard double bed is the ideal mattress size. A third prefer queen and one out of five favors the vast expanse of a king-size bed. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz set-up rings a bell for 6 percent of us who prefer twin beds. Most of us (42.6 percent) use two pillows or one (37.1 percent). More than 10 percent use three pillows and 3.2 percent sleep with none at all.

Three-fourths of both men and women accuse their partners of hogging the covers-which we use even in hot weather. More than four out of five women (83 percent) use a cover for weight or security (instead of just warmth) while six out of ten men do.

A vast majority of us prefer a cool room to a warm one, but men (hot-blooded as they are) often like it downright chilly. Three percent of us leave a light on as we head to dreamland and 21.6 percent of us often fall asleep clutching the TV remote control.

More than 60 percent of marrieds and live-togethers tend to go to bed at the same time as their mate. More than a third of women-36 percent-have at least once slept apart from their husband because of a fight.

Almost a fourth of Americans (23 percent) claim to wear nightgowns to bed-including 2 percent of men. Fewer sleep in pajamas, T-shirts or underwear.

For 15 percent, nothing comes between them and their sheets-though three times as many rich people as poor sleep nude. (Perhaps they got rich by saving money on clothes no one sees.) Just 6 percent of women sleep nude and only 2 percent in their underwear.

Men typically sleep better. Women tend to have shorter periods of deep sleep than their mates. That's because the men are more likely to snore, jar the bed and cause a trough in the mattress, forcing women to sleep on an incline, according to the Better Sleep Council. (Some 36 percent of men and 23 percent of women snore.) The average person wakes up ever so briefly l5 times a night-without being aware of it. On any given night, a third of us are tossing and turning. Just 25 percent of us say we always get a restful night's sleep. Just one in 40 adult men and women sleepwalks regularly, according to the Sleep Council.

Sixty-one percent of Americans are satisfied with the amount of zzzzs they catch but 39 percent are downright drowsy.

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