Washington in the Information Age

The National Journal held a briefing yesterday on communications use and the state of the information landscape in Washington, DC. The presentation, titled “Washington in the Information Age,” gave a comprehensive overview of media consumption in the District using data obtained through Journal surveys. The results were mixed. Few will be surprised to learn that people under 30 are the heaviest social media users; however, other responses were less expected. Email newsletters, for example, are THE top news source for Congressional staffers in the morning and rank second throughout the day after computer websites.

And while Washington professionals are eager to have instant access to the latest content, they are slow to adopt the newest technology; the text-heavy Blackberry continues to dominate the local smartphone market over the media-rich iPhone.

More than anything, the briefing underscored social and online media’s growing legitimacy and influence. Below are a few key takeaways:

- Twitter has emerged as a major news source. In 2009, only 14% of Congressional staffers described it this way. The number jumped to 41% in 2012.

- National and local media brands are trusted equally. Staffers indicated that they rely on both major national media brands and inside-the-Beltway publications for the full story.

- Media consumption remains the same during recess. The Journal’s survey revealed that two-thirds of polled staffers spent the same or more time catching up on developments with print and online media when Congress is in recess.

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