Media-usage patterns and political knowledge of NWU students: the 2009 election
Fourie, Lynnette Mitizi
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One of the central elements in a sustainable democracy is an informed and independent voters' corps who is knowledgeable regarding democratic values and the policies of different parties, and who participates in democracy. The literature suggests that voters who are more heavy media users are also more politically knowledgeable. It follows that the media have an important informational role in a democracy. Against this background, the media usage patterns, media usage perceptions and political knowledge of the students of the North-West University on the Potchefstroom, Mafikeng and Vaal Triangle campuses were investigated during May 2009. This was done in the form of a quantitative survey that allowed students to report their real perceptions, experiences and knowledge levels. Questionnaires were administered in a self-administered style to avoid interviewer bias and to increase truthful self-reporting. Trained field workers used certain guidelines to ensure that the sample was representative of NWU students. The study found that students on all three campuses had poor levels of political knowledge. It was furthermore established that they were light users of media and did not often engage in political discussions with peers. On all three campuses, for political information television was the preferred medium, followed by radio. Although there were only weak correlations, it would seem that the students who were heavier users of media, were also more politically knowledgeable.
- Faculty of Humanities 
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