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Web gains as source of political news

People are shifting to new sources for information about the presidential campaign, a poll found, with one-fifth of young adults considering the Internet a top source of campaign news for them.
/ Source: The Associated Press

People are shifting from traditional news sources such as newspapers and nightly network news for information about the presidential campaign, a poll found.

Led by young adults’ changing habits, the public is finding more of its information from such alternative sources as the Internet and even television shows like “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live.”

Young adults were leading the shift, with one-fifth considering the Internet a top source of campaign news for them, said the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, released Sunday. About the same number said they regularly learn about the campaign from TV satires.

News-only cable networks are second only to local TV news when people are asked to say where they regularly learn something about the campaign. More than four in 10, 42 percent, said they regularly learn something from local TV, while 38 percent chose cable news channels, a slight increase from four years ago.

Nightly news declines from 45 to 35 percent
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 respondents said they were most likely to get campaign news from television. Those who cited TV 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.

Both sides see bias
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 skewed has grown significantly. In a 2000 poll, 19 percent of Democrats felt coverage was tilted toward the GOP, while 29 percent feel that way now.

The 13 percent of people who called the Internet a top source of campaign news doubled that of four years ago. The number of people who say they regularly or sometimes get campaign news from the Internet increased to 33 percent from 24 percent.

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 shows. Now, all three are cited about equally as sources of campaign news.

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.