NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Here’s another chance to help improve our collective understanding of online activism

Edi­tor’s Note: A few years ago, we asked read­ers to par­tic­i­pate in an online sur­vey to help researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee and Texas Tech Uni­ver­si­ty learn more about how Amer­i­cans use the Inter­net to obtain polit­i­cal infor­ma­tion. The folks who put togeth­er that sur­vey are present­ly con­duct­ing a fol­low-up, and would like NPI read­ers who are reg­is­tered to vote in the Unit­ed States to par­tic­i­pate in the new sur­vey.

What fol­lows is a guest post by Pro­fes­sor Barb Kaye of the School of Jour­nal­ism & Elec­tron­ic Media at Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee- Knoxville, explain­ing why she and col­leagues put this project togeth­er, and what they hope to learn from it.

There’s no doubt that our role as con­sumers of news and infor­ma­tion is vast­ly dif­fer­ent than it was in the era before the Internet.

We are no longer lim­it­ed to being con­sumers — we are now reporters.

The dis­tinc­tions among sources of news (i.e. main­stream, alter­na­tive, user-gen­er­at­ed) and types of infor­ma­tion (i.e. facts, obser­va­tion, opin­ion, com­men­tary, analy­sis) that may or may not be ver­i­fied for accu­ra­cy is blurred.

Our inter­est as aca­d­e­m­ic researchers is learn how indi­vid­u­als use online sources, par­tic­u­lar­ly for polit­i­cal information.

Our research dif­fers from many non-aca­d­e­m­ic sur­veys that sim­ply report how the Inter­net is used because we attempt to link behav­ior to com­mu­ni­ca­tion theory.

We want to know more than what you are doing online — we want to learn why. In what ways are online sources impor­tant to you? How have new online sources changed the way you use tele­vi­sion and newspapers?

How much do you trust what you find online? How do you know infor­ma­tion is believ­able? What moti­vates you to click on a link or go to a blog?

How much influ­ence to online sources have on your polit­i­cal atti­tudes? These are just a few of the ques­tions that you can help us answer.

We feel that our research is impor­tant because of the ways that media and media use shape us cul­tur­al­ly. We’ve all seen how rapid­ly we’ve adopt­ed new ways of com­mu­ni­cat­ing and how these ways have changed us and our lives on a indi­vid­ual lev­el. By com­plet­ing our sur­vey, you’ll help us put togeth­er a pic­ture of how new online sources have become a dai­ly part of our lives and how they influ­ence us politically.

POSTSCRIPT: Pro­fes­sor Kaye has assured us that all sub­mis­sions are anony­mous and con­fi­den­tial. Any iden­ti­fy­ing infor­ma­tion, such as IP address­es, will be delet­ed by the research team upon receipt of a sub­mis­sion. So don’t be shy about par­tic­i­pat­ing!

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One Comment

  1. I don’t think it was a very well-thought-out sur­vey. It made too many dis­tinc­tions. How is Fire­doglake or Red­state *not* a social net­work­ing site? And I real­ly did­n’t care very much about the death of Osama bin Laden, so the spe­cif­ic ques­tions about him were off the point for me.

    # by The Raven :: May 24th, 2011 at 8:43 AM
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