April 16, 2009
The crazy-productive folks at Pew’s Internet and American Life project have a new survey published looking at The Internet’s Role in Campaign 2008.
There’s a lot of fun results to mine for anybody interested in political news consumption, participation and engagement via the Internet. I still need to read it more closely, but some of my favorite sound-bites so far:
- ~20% of those surveyed posted political commentary or content online
- ~20% of those surveyed reported seeking news sources that challenged their point of view
- A handy chart comparing where self-identified democrats and republicans get their online news. Statistically significant differences are marked with a “^” (Hint: look at CNN, Fox, Radio, and the Internet). Caveat: see my methodological comments below before interpreting this too deeply.
- This staggering time-series graph illustrating the decline of newspapers as a primary source of political news over the past 10 years or so (respondents were only allowed to mention their top two sources of news)
On a methodological note, it’s interesting that the surveyors chose to conduct the survey via land-line telephones only.
Some of you might recall that Pew also published some really interesting data in the middle of the campaign season suggesting that cell-only voters are disproportionately young, democratic, and Internet users.
Despite the fact that the surveyors weighted their results to try to reflect the demographics of telephone users in the U.S. as a whole, I take that to imply that the numbers in this latest survey should provide a conservative estimate the total Internet use in the population as a whole. At the same time, I think it undermines some of the comparisons between democratic and republican voters based on the land-line only data.
Here’s a perfect example of how industry-sponsored lobby groups distort good science, de-rail reasonable policy, and sabotage practical initiatives that save lives:
Sally Pipes authored an op-ed in the Bellingham Tribune entitled: “Thailand’s misuse of ‘compulsory licensing’ allowed corrupt officials to steal millions”.
The article is a bunch of lies. Period
Robert Weissman, the director of Essential Action, “a public health advocacy and corporate accountability group based in Washington,” replies to Pipes’ hack-job in yesterday’s Bellingham Tribune.
Weissman refutes Pipes’ baseless claims one by one. He also points out a minor conflict of interest that Pipes’ failed to disclose to readers herself: as President and CEO of the “Pacific Research Institute,” much of Pipes’ salary and organizational support comes from the same pharmaceutical firms that oppose compulsory licensing.
Also turns out, PRI is little more than a cog in the corporate right’s noise machine. Check out this fact sheet from exxonsecrets.org. This so-called “think tank” churns out junk science and editorials at lightning speed. It also just happens to oppose global warming, telecommunications regulations, compulsory licensing, affirmative action and government-supported healthcare reform while accepting funding from the oil industry, the telecommunications industry, big pharma, and a whole slew of conservative foundations including Scaife, Olin, Roe, Templeton and others.
Oh, and did I mention that PRI also uses junk economics and butchered data to support “Tort Reform”?
Big tobacco? Yep, PRI’s got that covered too.
Nothing wrong with taking money from folks who share your views on big political issues. Problem is, when you do that, you really owe it to the newspaper reading and television watching public to disclose your relationships to these folks. That’s why what Pipes did was wrong. That’s why I’m calling her a hack.
That’s also why the next time a quote shows up from one of these folks in your local paper or on your television news, you should write a letter to the editor (and feel free to include as much information from this post as you can – just remember to attribute appropriately) letting them know that Pipes and her PRI pals need to play by the rules of responsible journalism.
This story in the Independent details what the real fallout from the sub-prime crisis will be for the majority of the United States: even deeper poverty. A few hundred dollars in tax rebates will not solve this problem and neither will the few remaining welfare programs. The United States needs a realistic poverty policy reform before the recession starts to look more like a depression.