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1/18/2007
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Pew Report Records Rise Of Blogosphere Political Elite

During the 2006 campaign, 23% of those using the Internet to access political news created and shared political content through blog, video, or audio posts, or by forwarding such commentary to others.

The number of Americans using the Internet as their primary political news source has doubled since the 2002 midterm election, according to a study released today by the nonprofit Pew Internet & American Life Project.

During the 2006 midterm election, 15% of American adults said the Internet served as their main source of campaign news, up from 7% during the 2002 midterm elections. The 2004 presidential election, however, saw an even greater number of Americans (18%) relying on online political news.

Some 25% of Americans and 37% of Internet users said they got some information about the 2006 elections online.

The Pew report attributes rising interest in online political news to a concurrent rise in broadband usage, noting that the share of American adults with high-speed Internet access grew from 17% in November 2002 to 45% in November 2006.

Among those under 36 years old, 35% said the Internet was their main source of political news during the 2006 campaign while only 18% primarily relied on newspapers.

The Pew report identifies a "new online political elite" who use the Internet for political activism. During the 2006 campaign, 23% of those using the Internet to access political news (11% of Internet users overall) created and shared political content through blog, video, or audio posts, or by forwarding such commentary to others.

The increasing number of campaign-oriented videos on YouTube -- a clip announcing Sen. Barack Obama's intention to run for president being one of the latest -- underscores the significance of the Internet as a political news channel.

Among the Pew report's other interesting findings: News satire Web sites run by the likes of The Onion and The Daily Show served as a political news source for the same number of people (19%) as the Web sites of radio news organizations like National Public Radio, and came in just below international news Web sites maintained by foreign news operations such as the BBC and Al Jazeera (20%).

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