Who Are Americans? Interactive Exercises

Who Gets Political Information Online?

In a democracy like the United States, people need political information to understand current issues and their government’s actions. With the rise of the Internet as a news source, Americans are increasingly likely to get political information online, as well as other important information. However, not everyone has the same level of access to the Internet, and thus to information.

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1.
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What percentage of Americans goes online to find political news? What percentage of Americans go online to find a government website?
2. Do you follow the news regularly? From what source(s) do you get your political news?

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3. Which income groups are less likely to have access to high-speed Internet? Which racial/ethnic groups are less likely to have access to high-speed Internet? Why might this be a concern in American politics?
4. Do you see dramatic differences in Internet access between younger Americans and older Americans? Does this surprise you?
5a. 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 (pewinternet.org).

What are the top two online sources of news for all online users?
5b. What percentage of all online users gets news from sites like the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report?
5c. What percentage of all online users gets news from blogs?
5d. Do most online users check many different online sources on a typical day?
6.
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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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