Stephen A. Masker

Key Findings of the 2008 Presidential Election

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2009 at 12:01 AM

According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, statistics were posted concerning The Internet and the 2008 Elections by authors Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith on June 15th, 2008.

The results discovered are as follows:

  • A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others
  • 35% of Americans say they have watched online political videos–a figure that nearly triples the reading the Pew Internet Project got in the 2004 race
  • 10% say they have used social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace to gather information or become involved. This is particularly popular with younger voters: Two-thirds of internet users under the age of 30 have a social networking profile, and half of these use social networking sites to get or share information about politics or the campaigns
  • 6% of Americans have made political contributions online
  • 39% of online Americans have used the internet to access “unfiltered” campaign materials, which includes video of candidate debates, speeches and announcements, as well as position papers and speech transcripts.

The conclusion of this report:

  • On one hand, 28% of wired Americans say that the internet makes them feel more personally connected to the campaign, and 22% say that they would not be as involved in the campaign if not for the internet. At the same time, however, even larger numbers feel that the internet magnifies the most extreme viewpoints and is a source of misinformation for many voters.

Performing an analysis of 3 of the Top 25 newspapers in paid circulation for the sixth month period ending in September 2009 (the list of which can be located in its entirety at the Chicago Tribune website) these three papers were found to be among the most sold, with most successful listed first:

  1. The Wall Street Journal
  2. USA Today
  3. The New York Times

To begin, The Wall Street Journal encourporates an array of graphics, charts and other interactive tools to allow readers to better engage the material. Such examples retrieved from their political section are illustrated below:

Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.19.58 PMScreen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.19.44 PMScreen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.19.36 PMScreen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.19.19 PMAdditionally, tools such as following definitely improve the usability of the website and make articles both easier to read and share.

Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.25.05 PM

Concerning USA Today, however, I didn’t find that their political news section was as easily recognizable as The New York Times website. An example of their layout is shown below:

Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.28.41 PM

Nothing really specifies the ‘news section/coverage’ area of the website, leading the reader to assume that it’s going to be placed under the section dealing specifically with the federal government: Washington.

Also, if you choose an article, there are hardly any graphics, photos, charts or other interactive tools to help keep the readers interest. The only interactive tool that I can recognize are hyperlink URL’s to related stories.

Lastly, The New York Times website offered convenient navigation to their politics section, although I would prefer not to scroll more than once to find the section of their site that specified ‘politics’, although their website does resemble their newspaper, which I believe their readers appreciate.

An illustration of what I’m referencing can be found below: Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 10.34.16 PM

Beyond this point through, the NY Times incorporates hardly any charts, graphics or interactive materials for their political section. In-fact, the majority of their political news articles appear graphically uninteresting and visually boring; just black and white text.


  1. Extremely thorough analysis! Nice job. You pulled from a number of sites and zeroed in on key interactive elements that tied to the Pew study.

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