Social media may seem all the rage, with Facebook filing for a public offering last week and the use of Twitter spreading like wildfire, but cable news is where Americans are turning for their news on the presidential campaign, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
The study, which was conducted between Jan. 4th and 8th among 1,507 adults, also found that interest in the presidential campaign among those under 30 has dropped off significantly from 31% to just 20% today.
In the past, Americans relied heavily on local television for their campaign news. But that isn’t the case today as cable news has emerged as the number one choice, at 36%, a slight drop off from 2008, while local news plunged from 40% to 32% in the same time period, continuing a downward trend that started in 2004. Even worse was a decline in those using local newspapers, which dropped from 31% to 20% in the last four years, though some of that could be a result of the ongoing financial struggles of newspapers and the outright disappearance of many local papers since 2008.
While cable news has held relatively steady over the years, the use of the Internet as a news source has nearly doubled since 2004, and social media is slowly beginning to emerge as a competitor. And I mean slowly.
Despite all the talk of a Facebook generation, the use of social media as a source of campaign news has been slow to develop. Pew found that in the 18-29 age group, which is the group most likely to be using social media, just 11% of Americans sought campaign news from that platform. And forget about Twitter, which was used by just 4% of the respondents in the age group.
That could easily change in the next four years as social media matures — just look at Internet use. But it may take younger, more social-media savvy candidates to run before it competes with cable news or just plain Internet use.
Other findings in the report showed that Republicans favor Fox News by a more than 3-1 margin as compared to Democrats, which isn’t a big surprise, while CNN is the preferred network over NBC for Democrats (26% – 22%), which is the opposite of how the two networks rank in the ratings. That indicates that MSNBC may be too liberal, even for Democrats.