“…primarily relying on online-only sources is positively associated with a higher understanding of science…”

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This new reality of the online news environment should force scientists and journalists to rethink the interface between the science community and the public. Establishing trust and offering accessible and interesting content could cultivate demand for online science content and bring new audiences into the fold.

The development of new communication technologies and increased Internet access has dramatically changed the way the U.S. public consumes science news including stories related to science and technology, scientific studies in new areas of research…Americans are now as likely to report the Internet as their primary source of science information as they are to cite television. When asked where they go to learn more about scientific issues, almost 60% of Americans report the Internet. This is a significant shift from how the public obtained information prior to widespread Internet access.

Audiences’ level of scientific knowledge has been shown to significantly relate to science news consumption patterns reported that people knowledgeable in science and technology are more likely to use the Internet as their primary source for science news.

“…those who prefer to primarily rely on online-only sources have modestly but significantly more science knowledge than individuals who prefer traditional media for science information, even when controlling for scientific background….only individuals who pay attention to online-only sources more than traditional media demonstrate increased understanding of science…even for people who lack scientific training, online only outlets may be notable sources of information that can increase audiences’ knowledge…online-only sources may narrow knowledge gaps and operate as a form of informal science education. While traditional science media are often tailored to highly educated audiences exclusively online science sources such as science blogs may offer audiences diverse content that suits those with different levels of science knowledge.”

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