ARTICLE: TV and search engines people’s first choices for political information

Picture: Vintage television by Sven Scheuermeier, license CC0 1.0

Where do people choose to get political information, and how much do they learn from it? Researchers analyzed data from a national sample of U.S. adults from 2011 and 2012, measuring for political knowledge of the respondents.

Internet searches have come to rival television news as a source of political information, the authors state. 35% would choose television and 33% search engines as their first choice of source concerning a national news issue or a personally interesting topic. For those with internet access, search engines were more popular than television. Online or print newspapers were chosen by under 10% of the respondents.

Background factors of respondents, such as age and education, continue to explain a significant amount of the variation in political knowledge.

Newspapers no longer appear to have the strongest educative influences, the researchers write. On average, those who read newspapers gained higher scores when testing for political knowledge compared to those who didn’t read newspapers. Measuring the differences in political knowledge for those watching and not watching political information on TV, the effect was twice as large.

Authors of the article are:

  • Michael A. Xenos, Dietram Scheufele and Dominique Brossard of the University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Doo-Hun Choi of Hallym University
  • Michael Cacciatore of the University of Georgia and
  • Sara Yeo and Leona Yi-Fan Su, of the University of Utah

The article “News Media Use and the Informed Public in the Digital Age” was published in  International Journal of Communication and is freely available online (open access).

Picture: Vintage television by Sven Scheuermeier, license CC0 1.0

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