Agence France-Presse (AFP), France’s largest news agency and the third largest agency in the world, published a great overview of the power of the Internet as played out in the 2008 election. Not only have the candidates embraced Web tools to reach voters, the voters themselves have dove into the online world to lend a hand, organize and find out information on the candidates and news about the latest twist or turn of the election.
They article centers on an interview they conducted with Micah Sifry, Sunlight consultant and co-founder of TechPresident.com. “There are a lot of great non-partisan sites that have all kinds of information, not just about the presidential candidates,” Micah said. “For sheer self-education there’s a great deal available out there on the candidates on the local, state and national level.” Micah gave a shout out to OpenCongress.org as a great site looking into the records of congressional incumbents.
The AFP article also highlights a new study by the Pew Research Center that shows how the Internet has become a major source of campaign news. Television remains the dominant source, but the percent that say they get most of their campaign news from the Internet has tripled since October 2004 (from 10% then to 33% now), Pew reports. While Web traffic has skyrocketed, Americans usage of TV and newspapers has remained virtually the same as in past years. Amazing only to those who haven’t been paying attention, the Pew study found the Internet now rivals newspapers as a main source for campaign news. The use of online video such as YouTube has really taken off during the election season, with an incredible 39 percent of voters report having viewed or otherwise using online video in October, up from 24 percent in December. Record numbers of visitors have gone to independent news sites such as The Huffington Post and The Politico, and blogs such as Daily Kos and RedState.com, according to the report.