Pew Finds Surge for Web as Source of Political News, As Newspapers Sink

By: E&P Staff

A Pew Center study released today found that using the Internet to get news of politics during the 2004 presidential contest grew sixfold from 1996, while the influence of newspapers sank.

In 1996, only 3% of those surveyed called the Web one of their two leading sources of campaign news. In 2004, the figure was 18%. Reliance on TV rose slightly from 72% to 78% but prime use of newspapers plunged from 60% to 39%.

Four in ten of the heavy Web said they found it an important tool in helping them make a voting choice.

The telephone-based survey of more than 2,000 Americans was ocnducted for the Pew Research Center for The People and the Press and the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Americans who relied on the Web tended to visit sites of major news outlets like CNN and The New York Times (43%. A surprising 24% said they visited candidate Web sites and blogs.

Nearly 60% of the campaign news seekers cited convenience as their main reason for using the Internet. But one-third said they did feel they got all the news and information they wanted from TV and newpapers.

About one in ten said the Internet had information not available elsewhere. They were more likely to visit blogs or campaign sites for information.

Blogs “are having a modest level of impact on the voter side and probably a more dramatic impact on the institutional side,” Lee Rainie, author of the study, told the Associated Press. “Blogs are still a realm where very, very active and pretty elite, both technologically oriented people and politically oriented people go.”

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