As broadcast television network newscasts continue to lose viewers by the month, a new online survey by Zogby Interactive shows that the Internet is by far the preferred source for information, and that it is considered the most reliable source as well.
A majority of adults nationwide - 56% - said that if they had to choose just one source for their news information, they would choose the Internet, the poll shows. In a distant second place was television, as 21% said they would prefer that medium over online sources.
Democrats were more likely to favor traditional sources of news than were Republicans. Among Republicans, 56% would prefer the Internet as their lone information source, while 50% of Democrats agreed. But when it came to newspapers, the difference was notable - 17% of Democrats would prefer newspapers as their only news source, while just 5% of Republicans agreed.
The survey, conducted using Zogby's proven interactive polling technology that has been under development since 1998, showed that 38% believe that news from the Internet is most reliable, followed by television, which is thought to be the most reliable by 17% of adults nationwide. Newspapers came in a close third, as 16% said they were most reliable. Another 13% said they believed radio news to be most reliable.
Industry studies show that the vast majority of all American adults - 84% - have Internet access, meaning that most adults across the country have access to information from all four information sources tested in this survey, and all respondents participated to this survey online. A Zogby analysis of these and other similar polling questions showed that the Zogby online methodology had negligible impact on the findings of the survey. Further, the poll reinforces the idea that the efforts by established newspapers, television, and radio news outlets to push their consumers to their respective websites is working - 49% of respondents said national newspaper websites were very important to them, and 43% said national television websites were important to them as a key source of news. Forty-one percent also said the websites of their local newspaper were important sources of information, while 34% said that a local television news station website was an important source for them.
By contrast, the political blogosphere was seen as much less important to most adults across the country. Just 28% said blogs that shared their political point of view were important, and 14% said they felt blogs from the opposite position on the political spectrum were important.
That the websites of traditional news outlets are seen by a wide margin as more important than blog sites - most of which are repositories of opinion devoid of actual reportage - could be seen as an encouraging development for the media at large.
And though social networking sites have had the media all atwitter with excitement, the Zogby poll shows that just 10% consider such sites as Facebook as important for news information, and just 4% think Twitter is important as a source for information.
The vast majority of respondents - 82% - said that, five years from now, they expect the Internet to be the most dominant information source. The television news platform was a weak second place, as just 13% said they still think television will reign supreme in the information wars.
And as notable major newspapers, including the Christian Science Monitor and the Denver Post, have ditched their print editions in favor of all-Internet publications, the Zogby Interactive survey shows that only one-half of one percent - 0.5% - said they thought newspapers would be the most dominant source of news in five years.
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