"Poll: Alternative News Gaining Influence"
Sun Jan 11, 4:01 PM ET
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - People are turning increasingly to alternatives such as the Internet for news about the presidential campaign, shifting away from traditional outlets such as the nightly network news and newspapers, a poll found.
Young adults were leading the shift, with one-fifth of them considering the Internet a top source of campaign news for them, said the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. About the same number of young adults said they regularly learn about the campaign from comedy shows like "The
Daily Show" and "Saturday Night Live."
News-only cable networks are second only to local television news when people are asked to name where they regularly learn something about the campaign. More than four in 10, 42 percent, said they regularly learn something from local television news, while 38 percent said cable news networks, a slight increase from four years ago.
Nightly network news was named as a regular source of campaign news by 35 percent, down from 45 percent four years ago, and newspapers by 31 percent, down from 40 percent.
"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," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center.
Four in five said they were most likely to get campaign news from television. Those who cited television as a top source of campaign news most often mentioned CNN (22 percent) and Fox News (20 percent) as the leading source of information.
The public is increasingly concerned about bias in campaign coverage by the media generally. About the same number, 39 percent, say there is bias in campaign coverage as the number that says there is no bias, 38 percent.
The number who feel coverage is biased has grown steadily since 1988, when 62 percent said coverage was not biased.
While Republicans continue to be more likely to say coverage is biased in favor of Democrats, 42 percent, the number of Democrats who feel news coverage is biased has grown significantly. In 2000, 19 percent of Democrats felt coverage was tilted toward Republicans, while 29 percent feel that way now.
The number of people who say the Internet is a top source of campaign news was 13 percent, double the number who said that at the same stage of the 2000 campaign.
The number of people who say they regularly or sometimes get campaign news from the Internet increased to 33 percent from 24 percent.
The changing habits of young adults are leading the shift of sources for campaign news.
Four years ago, young people were far more likely to have said they learned about the campaign from nightly network news, 39 percent, than the Internet or comedy programs. Now, all three are cited about equally as sources of campaign news.
Those over age 50 were twice as likely as adults age 18-29 to say they regularly learn something about the campaign from local news shows, nightly network news and newspapers.
Young adults were far more likely than those over age 50 to say they regularly learned something from comedy TV shows — by 21 percent to 3 percent.
In general, Americans are poorly informed on specific information about the campaign. Those who regularly learn about the campaigns from entertainment shows were even less informed.
Comedy shows like "The Daily Show" "are making fun of what they see as the insufficiency of news programs, especially those on cable," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He said that highlights the need for more traditional news shows to learn how to appeal to younger adults.
The poll of 1,506 adults was taken Dec. 19-Jan. 4 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, larger for subgroups.
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