The Internet still trails television and newspapers as the leading sources for political news, but it gained significantly in usage since the midterm elections of 2002, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found.
The study, released Wednesday, revealed that 69 percent of Americans cited television and 34 percent considered newspapers their leading choices for news; survey respondents could specify their top two. Radio and the Internet each got about 15 percent, while magazines had 2 percent.
Even among online users, the Internet was a leading source for only 22 percent. It rises to 35 percent for high-speed Internet users under age 36.
“What was true 50 years ago is still true today,” said Lee Rainie, the Pew project’s director. “TV is still far and away the dominant channel of political information in this country, even for Internet users.”
Nonetheless, the Internet’s 15 percent, though slightly less than the 2004 presidential campaign season, was more than double the 7 percent recorded in 2002.
Pew also found that a quarter of the Americans who looked up political information online contributed to the discussion by posting commentary to a news group or blog or by forwarding their own or someone else’s audio or video clip related to politics.
Convenience was the chief reason for going online, though about half said they wanted information not available elsewhere and 41 percent didn’t believe they got all they had wanted from traditional news sources. A smaller number wanted perspectives from outside their communities, and some went online for local perspectives on races.
Traditional news organizations such as CNN and portals such as Yahoo Inc. were popular sources for online campaign information, although a sizable number also turned to blogs, campaign Web sites, alternative news organizations and satire sites such as “The Onion.”
The telephone survey of 2,562 adults conducted Nov. 8 to Dec. 4 has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, or 3 percentage points for the subset involving 1,578 Internet users.