Pew project shows 'election news consumers' reject candidates' sites

WASHINGTON: Consumers used the Internet more than ever to find election news, but the Web sites of the two presidential candidates remained largely ineffectual, a new survey has found.

WASHINGTON: Consumers used the Internet more than ever to find election news, but the Web sites of the two presidential candidates remained largely ineffectual, a new survey has found.

WASHINGTON: Consumers used the Internet more than ever to find election news, but the Web sites of the two presidential candidates remained largely ineffectual, a new survey has found.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that visits by 'election news consumers' increased from 4% in 1996 to 18% this year. The number of online users went from 22% to 33%. And voting decisions of consumers, particularly those under 30, had been influenced by information from the Web.

But new Web sites drew many more visitors than candidate sites. Election news consumers mined sites such as CNN.com and MSNBC.com for information about candidates and the election. However, only 7% and 6% of online news consumers actually visited the Bush/Cheney and Gore/Lieberman Web sites.

Mark Kitchens, White House director of Internet Press, said the lesson for 'future campaigns and PR' is to focus 'more on the Internet press to reach voters interested in trying to find objective reporting.'

A similar warning was sounded at the Politics Online conference last week, which was heavily attended by strategists behind the Internet's use in lobbying and election campaigns.

It emerged that when organizations and associations started using the Web in their lobbying campaigns, excitement over the ability to communicate directly with the public led to startling predictions about the technology's power. But then so much emphasis was put on the volume of e-mails generated that groups lost sight of the need for personalized communications.



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