Statistics Canada has released a new Canadian Social Trends report: “Keeping up with the times: Canadians and their news media diet,” by Leslie-Anne Keown. Among those who “consume” news frequently, TV is the main source. (If you click on the images of the charts, you’ll see full-size versions.)
The money quote that will get picked up on has to do with the association of getting your news mainly from TV and political inactivity.
The level of political engagement Canadians report is also influenced by their frequency of news consumption and the choices they make from the media sources available to them. Frequent followers of the news participate in more political activities, but relying only on television results in a pattern of political activity that closely mirrors those who do not follow news at all. Those who follow news frequently in a variety of media sources seem more likely to be politically engaged Canadians.
Think “couch potato”? Maybe: but I’d say that “rural/urban” and economic class are important factors as well, because, although the report sometimes contains the faint suggestion of causality — i.e. TV news causes political passivity — it means only that there is a statistical correspondence between the two variables, and it does explore a few factors that might explain the association.
Based on the 2003 General Social Survey, the results are likely to be a less than perfect representation of today’s situation — but I suspect that, given this is about trends, things would be even “more the case” today.