TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Many Went Online For Hurricane News

Many Went Online For Hurricane News

Anick Jesdanun (
Thu, 24 Nov 2005 19:32:45 -0600

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer

More than half of U.S. Internet users went online for news and
information about Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the vast majority
having visited the Web sites of traditional news organizations such as
CNN and MSNBC, a study finds.

Of the Americans who went online for news, 14 percent went to an
international news source such as the BBC's Web site.

"The fact that you had this U.S. domestic crisis and people turning to
international news sources is interesting," said John Horrigan,
associate director for research at the Pew Internet and American Life
Project, which released the survey findings Thursday.

"There were certainly commentators worldwide shocked that this sort of
thing was going on in America, and I would imagine some people decided
to see firsthand what commentators and news sites overseas were
saying," he said.

Though nearly three-quarters of the online consumers of hurricane news
went to the Web site of a major U.S. news organization, 54 percent did
turn to an alternative source, including international outlets, Web
journals or nonprofit relief organizations. Some people went to
multiple sources, so the totals exceed 100 percent.

According to Pew, 9 percent of Internet users say they made donations
online for hurricane relief and 5 percent say they used the Internet
to organize their own relief efforts.

Twenty-four percent sent e-mails or instant messages on the storm, and
9 percent went online to check on the safety of a loved one. Four
percent said they posted comments, links or pictures to a bulletin
board, chat room or Web journal.

The random, telephone-based survey of 1,577 Internet users was
conducted in September. The margin of sampling effort is plus or minus
3 percentage points.

Pew found little difference in news consumption by dial-up and
high-speed broadband users, even though online tasks are typically
done in greater numbers by the broadband set.

"This modest anomaly is probably attributable to the strong desire for
lots of information in the face of such a large natural disaster," the
report says. "Established media organizations covered Katrina and Rita
heavily and it is no surprise a large majority of Internet users
turned to them online."

On the Net:

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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