The Internet as a Source of Political News and Information

Today, newspapers and network TV compete with 24-hour cable channels and a bunch of online news services—from online efforts by traditional publishers to user-generated content on blogs, personal webpages, and social networking sites.

These changes inspire a bunch of questions. In a very world of dispersed media, where are politically engaged citizens going for their news? How are mobile devices used for gathering political information, particularly with reference to the consumption of traditional media content? And as voters move down the long tail of media content, are they ready to more narrowly target content that matches their existing political philosophy?

The proportion of American citizens going surfing for election-related news and data has quite doubled since the top of the 2000 race. Moreover, because the full population of internet users has also grown over that point, the general size of the web political news consumer audience has grown from 18% of all adults in 2000 to 44% of all adults today.

For the primary time since the Pew Internet Project began surveying Americans’ news consumption habits, the net now clearly exceeds radio, and is on par with newspapers, as a significant source of the campaign and election news among the whole adult population (including internet users and non-users). Fully 26% of all adults now get most of their election news from the net, nearly capable of the 28% who cite newspapers and double the 13% who hear the radio. Television remains the foremost common source of election news, as 77% of USA citizens intercommunicate election-related television programming for their campaign information (respondents were allowed to supply up to 2 sources of campaign news when answering this question). Since November 2000, the proportion of USA citizens looking forward to the web as a significant source of election news has over doubled (from 11% to 26%) while the proportion looking forward to newspapers has fallen from 39% to twenty-eight today.

 

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