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Most Americans Rely on Multiple Platforms for Political Information

Pew Research Center study shows radio lags behind as popular source for campaign news

Just 4% of respondents to a Pew Research Center survey about where people get campaign information said they ranked public radio as the “most helpful” source for news. The Excellence for Journalism project study, “Internet Gains Most as Campaign News Source but Cable TV Still Leads,” also found that 2% of Americans believe talk radio shows to be the best source for election updates.

Overall, the study found that more and more people are turning to the Internet and social media for their information, but cable TV is still most Americans’ primary news source, followed by local news and network news.

NPR was listed as a regularly-utilized news platform by 12% of Americans and 16% say that they listen to talk radio regularly for election news. These October numbers held steady as compared to the results from the same study conducted in January of this year.

While TV dominated the news market its increase in viewers tuning in for the purpose of learning about the campaign was not as statistically significant a change as that experienced by social media. Respondents said that their use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube doubled since January (6–12%, 2–4% and 3–7%, respectively), while cable news gained 5%, local news gained 6% and network news gained 5%.

For TV, cable news (41%) edged out local news (38%) and network news (31%) as a regular source of news. The Internet (36%) showed strong growth, supplanting network news. The TV numbers showed serious declines from 2000 for local TV (then 48%), network news (then 45%) though cable news showed growth rising from 34% then. Local papers (40%) were also stronger in 2000.

Newspapers were found at 23% (local) and 13% (national).

The study noted that some of the declines might not be as bad as they appear since “Internet” could include websites for media stations and newspapers. The study also looked at comedy and late night talk shows.