WASHINGTON (Talon News) — The popularity of the Internet as source of news and information continues to rise as more and more Americans want their information faster, according to a new poll released on Sunday.
The Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that the Internet boasts as many visitors to political and news websites as people who watch public television, Sunday morning news programs, and weekly news magazines.
One in three Americans say they sometimes get their news about the presidential election from the Internet, up 9 percent since the last presidential election cycle. 13 percent of Americans say they regularly visit the Internet to find out about the candidates and issues in the upcoming election — a percentage twice that from 2000.
Interestingly, the poll found that adults under 30 get their news from late-night comedy shows, such as NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” Less than one in four (23 percent) say they get their news about the political races from the nightly network news, down significantly from the 39 percent just four years ago.
Pew Research Center Director Andrew Kohut notes that cable television shows and the Internet are quickly gaining ground on traditional information outlets.
“Cable news and the Internet are looming larger as sources of campaign information as fewer people say they’re getting news from traditional sources such as newspapers and broadcast television,” Kohut said in a press release.
Local television news, which has long been the mainstay of information for most Americans, remains the top source for information for Americans on the presidential election at 42 percent. But that is a 6 percent drop since 2000.
Network news also fell by 10 percent and newspapers dipped 9 percent in the past four years as more Americans begin turning more to the Internet for their news about the presidential campaign.
Again, 20 percent of young people cited the Internet as a major source of information on the election, and 21 percent of them get their information from comedy television shows.
Cable news networks, such as CNN and Fox News, showed nearly four in ten (38 percent) Americans learn about the presidential campaign from their broadcasts.
Despite these numbers, the poll discovered that many Americans have no knowledge of the major political events that have occurred over the past few months in the presidential campaign.
One-third of Americans knew about former Vice President Al Gore’s endorsement of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in December. Less than that knew that Democrat presidential candidate Wesley Clark is a former Army general.
The poll showed that people who get their news from the Internet are generally more knowledgeable than those who get their news from comedy shows and late night television.
The poll found that 7 percent of Internet users have participated in online political discussion groups, signed campaign and issue petitions, or donated money to candidates or politically-affiliated groups.
Sixteen years ago, before Rush Limbaugh, the Internet, and Fox News, an astounding 62 percent of Americans believed the news was unbiased and objective. Now, a solid 61 percent of Americans believe the news media is biased in its coverage of the presidential election, according to the poll.
Nearly one in three Democrats believe the television coverage of the election is biased towards the Republicans while more than four in ten Republicans say the election news is skewed towards the Democrats.
The poll of 1,506 Americans adults was conducted for the non-profit Pew Internet and American Life Project from December 19 through January 4. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.