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!