Pew: Americans find Internet most useful for campaign news, second only to cable


The Internet is "most helpful for campaign news," 17 percent of Americans said in response to a Pew survey, more than triple the percentage of people who picked local newspapers and well ahead of local and network news. Only cable exceeded the Internet as the most useful source -- with 24 percent of people surveyed saying it was most helpful. Only 5 percent said local newspapers were most helpful. The results were released by Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism from research conducted Oct. 18-21.

When Americans were asked a slightly different question -- where they turn for campaign news -- 36 percent of people Pew surveyed cited Internet sources, as opposed to 31 percent for network news, 23 percent for local papers, and 13 percent for national papers. Cable news was most popular of all; 41 percent said they used that medium.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people reported turning to all sources more than they did in a similar survey done in January 2012. Internet sources had a dramatic gain, up 11 percentage points from January. The largest source of online campaign news came from legacy media websites or news apps, but online-only sources weren't far behind. Four percent said they regularly got campaign news from Twitter, double the percentage of people who said that in January.

One interesting finding: Talk shows may be declining across formats. While more people said they regularly or sometimes tuned in to cable talk than in January, the percentage (34 percent) was lower than in 2004 (44 percent). "Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who said they never watch cable talk shows has risen from 38% in 2004 to 47% today," the report says.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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