Spin questioned on Pew campaign coverage report


According to a recent report from media watchdog Pew Research Center, cable is the dominant source of election news for American citizens. However, the NAB took issue, pointing out that broadcast would easily eclipse cable as the dominant source of news if Pew hadn’t seen fit to split it into two categories. And BTW, even split, both broadcast segments still came in ahead of that upstart internet.

According to the Pew report, cable is used as a regular source of campaign information by 36% of Americans, followed by local television (32%), network television (26%), internet (25%) and local newspaper (20%).

NAB’s Dennis Wharton pointed out the obvious and simple fact about these results. He said, “A look inside the numbers shows something quite different, and could qualify Pew as a winner of the ‘Fuzzy Math Prize of the Year.’ 32% of survey participants cited local TV stations as their top source of news, while another 26% reported network broadcast TV news was their main source for election news. Thus, 58% of Pew survey respondents cited broadcast television as their primary source for campaign coverage, vastly surpassing the 36% who cited cable networks.”

The one thing about the cable result is that it is consistent over the last 12 years – it has grown only 2% since it recorded a 34% result in this survey in 2000.

Local TV is down from 48%, and network TV is down from 45%. Also down is local newspaper from 40%.

The culprit is clearly the internet, the use of which has grown exponentially during the period, starting from only 9% in 2000. However, Pew notes that the use of social networks for political information is extremely limited.

Pew also notes that television use has been highly diminished thus far in the 2012 election compared to 2008 for a very simple reason. Back then, there were two hotly contested presidential primaries, including one of historic proportions on the Democratic side that was likely to produce a major first in American history either way it went – the first female candidate for the presidential general election in Hillary Clinton, or the first African American, which of course did become history in the person of Barack Obama.

Anybody notice the almost tragic number in all of this? It’s newspaper being halved from 40% to 20%.