- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Americans remain loyal to traditional news organizations despite recent hubbub over on-the-spot Internet coverage.

Given the choice, 70 percent would rather watch the evening television news than a “citizen video” report of an event, according to a Zogby poll released yesterday. The audience for YouTube, Rocketboom and other online video repositories is skimpy across all age groups: 75 percent of those 18 to 49 years old would choose the evening news, as would 90 percent of respondents older than 65.

Citizen videos — made with camera phones, computer software and other high-tech help — had the most support among self-described “progressive” respondents: 30 percent picked the online reports compared with 18 percent of conservatives.

A less-than-flattering judgment has been made on the amateur-video phenomenon.

“More than two in three Americans believe what Paris Hilton and Britney Spears already know: 67 percent agreed that new camera and Internet technologies are turning us into a nation of voyeurs and paparazzis,” the poll stated.

The survey of 1,203 adults was conducted Dec. 5 to 8 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Other findings would please Gutenberg, but not necessarily Al Gore. Sixty-five percent of respondents said the printing press was a greater invention than the Internet, which was favored by 32 percent.

“There is a geographic divide on this issue,” the poll said. “Confirming eastern snobbery that Californians don’t read books, those in the east favored the Internet the least (29 percent) and those in the west favored it the most (38 percent).”

Respondents were undecided about the effect of the Web on lawmakers. Asked which political party had a better grasp of the Internet and its “importance,” 30 percent chose Democrats and 20 percent picked Republicans, 31 percent were unsure, and 12 percent said neither party. Just 7 percent said both parties were Internet-savvy.

Still, 83 percent said the average 12-year-old knows more about the Internet than members of Congress do.

Automobiles outrank Internet and e-mail access in terms of importance. Almost eight out of 10 respondents — 78 percent — said a car that wouldn’t start was worse than losing Internet access.

Cars also reign supreme in a survey of “things we can’t live without,” according to a social trends report released last Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Ninety-one percent rated a car as a necessity rather than a luxury, followed by a clothes washer (90 percent), clothes dryer (83 percent), air conditioning (70 percent) and microwave (68 percent).

Television was ranked in the middle of the pack, cited by 64 percent, followed by a home computer (51 percent) and cell phone (49 percent.) High-tech goodies were dead last on the list — cable or satellite TV cited by a third, high-speed Internet by 29 percent, flat-screen TV by 5 percent and IPod by 3 percent.

That survey of 2,000 adults was conducted Oct. 18 to Nov. 9 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

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