"Who are Americans?" Interactive Exercises

Who Follows the News–and How?

In a democracy like the United States, people need political knowledge to understand current issues and their government’s actions. However, just over half of all American adults report following the news regularly. With the rise of the Internet as a news source, Americans are increasingly likely to get political information online, with most getting news from multiple sources on a typical day.


1a. From what source do most Americans get their political news?
1b. What percentage of Americans get their political news online?
1c. What percentage of Americans get their political news from a national newspaper?
2. Do you follow the news regularly? From what source(s) do you get your political news?


3. How do younger Americans compare to older Americans in terms of following the news? What might explain the different rates of news consumption across age groups?
More and more people are getting their news online. Look at the table from the Pew Internet study “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer,” which shows the online sources people use to get news (http://www.pewinternet.org/Press-Releases/2010/Online-News.aspx).
4a. What are the top two online sources of news for all online users?
4b. What percentage of all online users get news from sites like the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report?
4c. What percentage of all online users gets news from blogs?
4d. Do most online users check many different online sources on a typical day?
5. Radio and newspapers were once the dominant news sources. What are some of the likely consequences of the shift toward television and online news?

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About This Exercise

This exercise is designed to get you thinking of the statistics behind the politics in this chapter, as well as get you thinking critically about how these issues relate to current political events and phenomena.