A new poll conducted for CNN and USA Today by Gallup confirms the blog readership figures found by Pew’s research a few months back. CNN gives it a decidedly negative spin:

… a poll released Thursday finds that few computer users are tuned in to the blog phenomenon.

More than three-quarters of Americans — 76 percent — said they use the Internet, but only 26 percent said they were “very familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with blogs.

Just 7 percent of adults said they read blogs at least a few times per week, according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. Forty-eight percent said they never do.

The poll was based on telephone interviews of 1,008 American adults carried out February 25-27. It has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

Presuming that the figures for both Internet usage and the blog awareness among Internet users are probably even lower here in Britain, it’s tempting to read this as more evidence that British blogging is a complete waste of time.

But perhaps all this misses the point. It’s not mass readship that matters. Insofar the blogosphere has demonstrated any sort of real influence, it has been through a symbiotic relationship with the much-derided mainstream media.

By drastically accelerating the post-publication fact-checking of dubius stories and by amplifying under-reported stories, blogging has changing the monopoly on agenda-setting that the mainstream news media previously enjoyed. But this only works because reporters and editors read blogs and take them seriously.

Presumably the same challenge of traditional opinion-leaders’ dominance of specialist discourses is the what marks the non-political blogosphere.

Perhaps bloggers shouldn’t worry about polls like this one: A relatively small, elite readership may be what really matters most for the blogosphere.

Update: Micro Persuasion says more or less the same thing.