Pew Report: The Internet and Campaign 2010
In the 2010 election cycle, some 54% of adults used the Internet for political purposes, far exceeding the 2006 midterm digital usage rate of 31%.
The Pew Research Center’s report detailing election season participation, “The Internet and Campaign 2010” (PDF), surveyed adult online engagement with the campaign. Many Americans saw both positive and negative dimensions in this growing political world; many said that the Internet made it easier to engage with others who have similar political views but also helped promote increased political extremism.
The report’s findings include:
- 73% of adult Internet users (or 54% of all U.S. adults) went online to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections, or to get involved in the campaign in one way or another.
- Three-quarters (77%) of those engaged used a wireless connection through their cell phone or laptop for accessing the Web.
- Of those who used Internet for political engagement, 49% voted for Republican candidates and 35% for Democratic candidates in 2010.
- 28% used the Internet to “fact check” claims made during the campaign.
- One in five adults (22%) who were online used Twitter or a social networking site for political purposes in 2010.
- 54% of online adults said the Internet makes it easier to connect with those that share their views.
- 55% believe the Internet bolsters the power of those with extreme political views, compared with 30% who say that the Internet diminishes the influence of extreme views by giving citizens a voice.
Despite the clear advantages of the Internet for access to information, the report concludes that, generally, Americans “feel that the Internet opens people to a wider range of viewpoints, although many find it difficult to separate good political information from bad.”
Tags: elections, Internet, presidential primary, Twitter, news, campaigns and media, social media, mobile tech
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the Pew Research Center study "The Internet and Campaign 2010" (PDF).
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the issue-related Star-Tribune article "In 2012, a New World for Online Campaigning."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.