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Guest Thinkers

The Problem of Choice: Few Americans Seek Public Affairs News Online

By way of the Internet, Americans today have more public affairs and science-related information available to them than at any time in history. Yet the availability of information does not mean people will use it. Given the many competing alternatives across entertainment, celebrity culture, and other diversionary content, only those Internet users with a very strong preference for public affairs will use the medium for “hard” news on a regular base.

This general pattern of Internet consumption is once again reflected in the just released “Pew State of the News” survey. In the section focusing on “online news,” as graphed above, though roughly 70% of Americans say that they have sought news online in the past, only roughly 30% of Americans are regular online news consumers, or “got news online yesterday.” In the same survey, 3% of respondents reported reading a “news blog” yesterday.


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