The internet is now the primary source of political news


Obama: Has the attention of the internet. Can councillors match this at a local level?

Neighbourhood blogger Kevin Harris has emailed me with a tip about this post over at SmartMobs: According to this Pew survey … 

Some 74% of internet users-representing 55% of the entire adult population–went online in 2008 to get involved in the political process or to get news and information about the election. This marks the first time that a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey has found that more than half of the voting-age population used the internet to get involved in the political process during an election year.

So what does this mean for local democracy? Here are my two hasty conclusions on what are, I think, the key opportunities that this presents:

  1. Because the costs (both financial, and in terms of expertise) of web publishing and interaction have fallen dramatically, this could lead to a weaker political centre and the emergence of a new more personalised local politics
  2. Because more people can publish and interact, the signal to noise ratio has changed – there appears to be a noiser-than-ever focus upon the activities of the political centre, and a marked frigidity at a local level in using new media tools

I have my own explanations for this frigidity, but I’d be interested to hear yours…..