A new report by the Monitor Institute and the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows how technology is helping civic institutions keep local citizens informed. The findings came from surveys conducted over an 8 month period in San Jose, CA; Philadelphia, PA; and Macon, GA.
Overall, a significant number of citizens are using social and mobile technology to stay informed:
- 32% of residents turn to social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to stay updated on local matters
- 19% to blogs
- 12% to smartphones and other mobile devices
- 7% to Twitter
and also to share updates with each other:
- 32% of Internet users have posted updates and local news on social sites
- 17% of Internet users have commented on issues through a local news site
- 12% have posted on blogs
- 6% on Twitter
On average, newspapers and television were the most important sources for general information about the communities and residents’ neighborhoods, with the internet ranking as the third most important source. However, the internet rose to the top of the list when citizens were looking for personally-relevant information, including searching for jobs or finding topics ‘of special interest’ to individuals.
According to Pew, “Social media like Facebook and Twitter are emerging as key parts of the civic landscape and mobile connectivity is beginning to affect people’s interactions with civic life.” MediaPost reports that “the rise of the Internet and social networks is a key reason that people feel that local news media…are doing a good job.”