Monday, August 08, 2005

How Important Are Blogs?

Via NewsBusters:

An article in the Boston Herald titled “Americans aren’t all agog for blogs.”

It points out a survey by Forrester Research reporting that fewer than 2 percent of Americans go to the Internet to read blogs once a week or more. It then goes on to note:
Blog readership looks paltry against the 70 percent of Americans who watch ABC, 65 percent who read their local paper — or even the 18 percent who watch Home & Garden’s HGTV.
However, the article also presents a cogent counter-argument:
Herald reporter Jay Fitzgerald, author of Hub Blog and the Herald’s Econoblog, notes: “The New Republic, the National Review, the Nation and other political magazines have enormous influence, but their combined circulation doesn’t come close to the readership of the top blogs.”
Fitzgerald has a good point. Blogs aren’t a mass medium — they are for the politically active and interested. But in reaching the politically active and interested they have a vastly important trickle-down effect. When blogs debunked Dan Rather’s bogus documents about George Bush’s National Guard service, very few people directly read the blog entries. But the information spread like wildfire, and by the next day the Mainstream Media had to pay attention (and joined in the debunking).

Further, blogs are one of the media of the future, as opposed to (say) the print editions of newspapers or the broadcast networks evening newscasts. To survive, the more traditional media have become more “blog like.” The Journal-Sentinel puts wire-service dispatches online immediately, and columns may be posted as soon as they are written, rather than waiting for the print edition to come out. On mainstream media sites, discussion boards and online polls have become exceedingly popular, exploiting the interactive nature of the Internet.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, blogs are getting a lot of flattery these days.

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