TV losing ground, web gaining for political news

Californians’ reliance on TV for their political news is declining, while an increasing number of people are using the Internet for political coverage, according to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California.

In 2007, nearly half of Californians — some 47 percent — relied on television for political coverage; today, it is 38 percent Of those who go to television, nearly half rely on cable TV, according to the PPIC report, which included the findings of earlier statewide surveys.

During 2007, overall about 17 percent of Californians used the Internet for political news. That level has increased steadily over the past seven years, and today it has more than doubled to 32 percent. In 2000, only 6 percent relied on the Internet for political coverage.

Meanwhile, reliance on newspapers has dropped from about 15 percent four years ago to about 10 percent today, while the use of radio for political coverage also has dipped, from 12 percent seven years ago to 9 percent today.

Viewership of network television has remained relatively steady, from  25 percent in 2007, 23 percent in 2010 and 21 percent today. Twenty-seven percent of Californians report watching local television news.

For general news, “the Internet has overtaken television as a news source for several groups, including younger adults (51 percent Internet, 28 percent television), upper-income residents (42 percent Internet, 20 percent television), independents (35 percent Internet, 28 percent television), and college graduates (42 percent Internet, 19 percent television),” the report noted.

Meanwhile, about 29 percent of those “who look for news online say that they mostly access newspaper websites,” while about two thirds say they visit other types of websites.

Among those who say they get most of their information about politics from newspapers, online readership is on the rise dramatically, 13 percent in 2007 compared with 34 percent today. Conversely, print readership among that group is declining, from 87 percent seven years ago to 66 percent today.

Younger Californians (57 percent, ages 18 to 34, 53 percent, ages 35 to 54) are more likely than older residents (42 percent, ages 55 and older) to go online for state political news at least sometimes.

Online consumption of news about California politics rises sharply as education and income levels increase, the report noted.

Ed’s Note: Sources: PPIC Statewide Surveys, August 2000 (2,003 adults), September 2007 (2,003 adults), October 2010 (2,002 adults), and October 2014 (1,704 adults). Margin of error for all adults is ±2% in August 2000 and September 2007, ±3.1% in October 2010, and ±3.5% in October 2014; the margins of error for subgroups are larger. 

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