The Internet has overtaken magazines as a source of political information among online users, according to a study released this month by @plan Institute for Online Commerce, Stamford, CT.
“I think this will be seen as an important historic moment for the Web,” said Mark Wright, CEO of market research firm @plan Inc., which launched its Institute for Online Commerce this summer as a neutral scientific market research group.
While television, newspapers and radio are still the top three political news sources, the Internet is now No. 4, with magazines having fallen to the fifth most popular source.
Of 1,000 Internet users asked in August to compare the Internet with each of the other four media for getting political information, 56 percent said they use the Internet as a primary source compared with magazines, while 44 percent said magazines were their primary source. When asked to compare television with the Internet, 81 percent said television was their primary source. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said the Internet was their primary source of political information versus radio, and 27 percent said the Internet was their primary source compared with newspapers.
Meanwhile, though people's preferences for types of media may be changing, it does not necessarily mean their brand preferences are changing.
“People are going to the same brands they trust for news and information, but they're shifting the distribution channel through which they access it,” Wright said.
The study also showed that Web users view the Republican Party as better equipped than the Democratic Party to handle issues of privacy, child protection, taxation and intellectual property rights on the Internet.
“An issue that has major traction with the online public that has true political implications is the privacy debate,” Wright said.
With respect to ability to handle privacy issues, Internet users polled chose Republicans over Democrats, 52 percent to 41 percent.
Although Wright did not know how Internet issues in general stack up with other political issues, he said they will play an increasingly important role in the future.