The rapidly changing media landscape and what it means for politics — in 1 chart

October 1, 2012

In the 2012 campaign, television is still the king (or queen) when it comes to driving storylines in the race. Once TV decides something is a story, it is one.

But, a fascinating new study from the good folks at Pew regarding the news consumption habits of the American public suggests that TV as well as print newspapers and the radio are losing their centrality in the media landscape.

More people now get their news from digital sources (hurray blogs!) than they do from either print newspapers or the radio. And digital is starting to make a move on TV as the dominant place people go for news.

Here's the Pew findings in chart form:

Writes Pew's Andy Kohut:

The transformation of the nation’s news landscape has already taken a heavy toll on
print news sources, particularly print newspapers. But there are now signs that television
news – which so far has held onto its audience through the rise of the internet – also is
increasingly vulnerable, as it may be losing its hold on the next generation of news
consumers.

The rise in digital news consumption is directly attributable to the rise in people getting their news either through a) social media sites like Twitter and Facebook (9 percent said they saw news headlines on social sites in 2010 as compared to 19 percent who say the same now) and b) mobile (17 percent said they got their news from mobile devices in the Pew survey).

What the broader study suggests -- and it's well worth reading the entire thing -- is that news consumption habits of the country are changing and changing relatively rapidly.

And, with it campaigns are changing too.  President Obama has been using things like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube to communicate directly with their supporters -- and without the "filter" of the media -- for the better part of the last four years.  And, it wasn't by accident that Mitt Romney's unveiled a smart phone app to announce his vice presidential pick this summer.

The rapidity of growth of mobile and social news consumption is absolutely eye-opening and promises fundamental change in the way campaigns target their messaging and reach their audience in 2016 and beyond.

 Read the whole Pew survey. Just do it.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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