Wary of the Web?

How do we feel about the mainstream media? Sort of how Jack Nicholson said in "A Few Good Men."

Deep down in places we don't talk about, we want them on that wall. We need them on that wall … Or so a new study suggests.

A survey out of Massachusetts research firm on confidence levels of media consumers alleges that while ObamaGirl may be a nice diversion and blogs can drive some debates, participants trust print media about 5 times more than online options like YouTube, blogs, alternative media or the candidates' own websites. According to the study, newspapers are seen as credible by 56 percent of participants, as opposed to the "new" media options, which hover around 10 percent. The study's summary begins:

As the 6-month race to the first presidential primaries begins, much attention has focused on some candidates' presence on the Internet. Obama Girl, Hillary Clinton's spoof on the Sopranos, and the various sites covering the candidates and campaigns has some traditional media worried about their Internet investment strategy. When Nucleus Research and KnowledgeStorm undertook a survey of 383 people to better understand the impact and effectiveness of streaming media in political campaigning, it found the buzz about Internet influence – at least at this point in the campaign – was much ado about nothing.
The study continues on to indicate that "new" and "alternative" media are still fighting some problems of credibility. And yes, it would be easy to chalk this up to a curious methodology, but the most interesting thing about the study by far was that it was a web survey. And despite asking questions of the online audience, participants still didn't give a lot of online sources much credit.

In a conversation with Public Eye, Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wetteman shared my surprise. "We were surprised at home much people still look to traditional print media as the source they can trust," she said. "This [web survey] methodology should have skewed towards a more web-savvy, web-friendly audience."

So while an Internet poll isn't an open-and-shut case of preaching to the converted – it's not as if we're automatically discussing a crowd of IT developers from Silicon Valley, or Gawker staff members – the fact that untraditional media is still viewed so warily by people who likely don't think of the Internet as a "series of tubes" is an interesting thing to consider.