Monday, April 16, 2007


News and information are everywhere. The old wire monopoly is no more. And the public still doesn't know much.

A new Pew Research Center report is worth digesting. Here's the lede:
On average, today's citizens are about as able to name their leaders, and are about as aware of major news events, as was the public nearly 20 years ago. The new survey includes nine questions that are either identical or roughly comparable to questions asked in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 2007, somewhat fewer were able to name their governor, the vice president, and the president of Russia, but more respondents than in the earlier era gave correct answers to questions pertaining to national politics.
One in three people can't name the governor of their state -- this, despite dramatic increases in education for people in the U.S.

We know our celebrities, of course:
More than nine-in-ten Americans (93%) could identify Arnold Schwarzenegger as the California governor or a former action-movie star -- both responses were counted as correct in the scoring. An equally large proportion of the public identified Hillary Clinton as a U.S. senator, a former first lady, a Democratic leader, or a candidate for president. Clear majorities can also correctly identify Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (65%) and Sen. Barack Obama (61%). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is recognized by about half of the public (49%).
Vladimir Putin? Known by name to fewer than four in 10 Americans. Lewis "Scooter" Libby? Only three in 10 people could identify him.

Where do people get their news?
Nearly four-in-ten people (37%) regularly use at least one type of internet news source, either the news pages of major search engines such as Google or Yahoo (25%), the websites of the television news organizations (22%), or the websites of major national newspapers such as the New York Times or USA Today (12%). Additionally, about one-in-ten (11%) read online blogs where people discuss events in the news.
A majority of respondents get their news the old-school way -- from watching a local TV newscast or reading a local newspaper. Congrats to you for being part of the one-in-10 clique.

No comments: