A Critical Transition in Political Communication: From Push Media to Pull Media
37 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 4 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
We report on a comparative study of online search behavior and the traditional industrial era media of metropolitan newspapers and primetime broadcast television. Does the public sphere look any different when viewed through a typical search engine? From data collected in 2006 and 2007 we find that online search has a surprisingly large component of information seeking about specific commercial products and services. We compare the character of this search behavior with the traditional categories of displayoriented push advertising in traditional media and banner ads and pop-ups online.
A typical search also has a large component of attention to celebrity, sports and gossip, but not surprisingly so does a typical newspaper and television schedule. A preliminary analysis of content categories reveals a reasonably similar picture for push and pull patterns with the possible exception of international news which, paradoxically, given the global character of the Internet, appears to be relatively neglected in typical American search behavior.
We review the limitations of extrapolating from a small sample, a modest content analytic coding scheme and a single point in a fast-moving historical process. We review the ramifications for theory building and further research on understanding the dynamics of new media adoption and use.
Keywords: new media
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