When CNN reported the poll last week, their angle was that the data shows that blogging remains a fringe phenomenon. For a medium used to thinking of success in terms of huge raw readership figures, this is undoubtedly true. But that, Blumenthal says, is missing the point:
… The 12% that say they read political blogs at least a few times a month amount to roughly 26 million Americans. That may not make blogs a “dominant” news source, but one American in ten ads up to a lot of influence.
What is also interesting is that the demographics of the political blog readership is almost a mirror image of traditional media consumers:
Gallup finds Americans’ use of all traditional news media to be positively correlated with age. (For instance, only 32% of 18- to 29-year-olds read a local paper every day, versus 61% of those 65 and older)
Moreover, the overall size of that readership may be less important that the fact that it includes an elite readership of media types, as Matthew Yglesias noted a few days ago in a reply to New Donkey’s take on the same poll:
… This thing of ours is a good way of trying to influence elite opinion and maybe alter the media climate, but it’s an enormous mistake to confuse it with anything like a viable basis for a mass political movement. …
Meanwhile, Dan Drezner points out a new research (PDF) by Lada Adamic and Natalie Glance that examined linking patterns of liberal and conservative American blogs during the presidential election. Kevin Drum has an excellent summary of the conclusions.
Now, all of this is about the situation in the United States. With a general election looming, I wish we had some comparable data for Britain or Europe so that we could better assess whether or not British blogging is a pointless waste of time.