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Only 8% of Americans read blogs (UPDATED)
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, January 27, 2007

That according to Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee is a finding of CBS and MRI Research:
If you hang around TV people long enough, you learn some wild things. My favorite fact, after two weeks of meetings, chatting and general hanging out with television executives, producers and stars is this:

Only 8 percent of Americans read blogs. Eight percent. For all the energy that TV networks — not to mention political operations and, frankly, newspapers and news organizations — put into the blogosphere, it's a tiny percentage of people who even notice.

That came from CBS chief research officer David Poltrack and MRI Research, a respected New York firm that sampled 20,000 people.
Of course hiding behind that 8% is the number 24,000,000 (8% of 300 million). Not exactly as "tiny" a number as the percentage its purported to be. And, it continues to grow.

To give that "tiny precentage perpective, other than California, it represents more people than live in any state in the Union (TX is 23+ million). In fact, it is more people than live in the bottom 18 states (for population) and Washington DC.

And, if you really think about it, those 24 million are probably computer savvy and most likely well educated adults. Any guess as to who might be more likely to act politically on information they read on blogs?

Now granted not all of them are political blog readers, but certainly a good number probably are. But the traditional media delights in things like this. In fact the paper for which the writer of this column works has a daily circulation of 297,908. Any guess as to what percentage of that total read his column? Heck there are political blogs out there that easily top those numbers everyday. So pretending there's nothing too the blog phenomenon because, well, only 24,000,000 people read them is simply silly.

An equally important point, but one usually ignored, is who are among those who read them ... especially political blogs.
"One of the things that's probably overstated by the press is how many people are visiting online blogs," Poltrack said in a presentation to TV critics. "I think you all blog each other, but I'm not sure the rest of the world is joining in the process that much."

In a conversation later, Poltrack said he would guess the majority of people who do read blogs are bloggers themselves.

"That does not leave a whole lot of real people who spend their time with blogs," he said.
In fact, as we learned in a survey about political blogs cited earlier this week, 82.6% of those surveyed (item 15) didn't own a blog. So obviously the vast majority of those reading political blogs at least aren't just blogging "each other". Instead it points to a significant portion of those reading political blogs seeking them out for news, information, opinion and community, all of which they aren't necessarily finding in the traditional media.

Another interesting fact to note is that most of those surveyed about political blogs said that about 10% (for each category) of their media consumption comes from TV, radio, newspapers (printed) and on-line newspapers while they get 30% from political blogs. Additionally most respondents said they spend about 10 hours a week reading political blogs. That means lots of eyes on lots of blogs.

The three top reasons they've turned to blogs are, in order, news they can't find elsewhere, better perspective, faster news (delivery). Sounds like a pretty decent niche to me.

And it sounds like more whistling past the graveyard for the traditional media.

UPDATE: Monica Guzman of the Seattle Post Intelligencer's blog "Net Native" adds a bit to the story. And the consensus? 24 million is not a number at which to sneeze.

Tim Worstall adds some further perspective.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Take a look at this “breaking story”. Things have come to a pretty pass when the only way to get the attention of the MSM defeat drones is to feign a cover-up.
Whether or not the Iran-sponsorship angle proves to be true, this is the kind of story that one will NEVER see in the MSM. Thank God for blogs, er, internet magazines.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Any marketing expert will tell you that the size of the audience is secondary to the nature of the audience. An essay that gets in front of just one person might change the world - if that person is, say, Bill Gates.

The key to blogs is whether the influence of the readers is significantly above the typical television viewer, radio listener, or newspaper reader. My sense is that blog readers are indeed more influential. I don’t have a survey to back that up, but I’d be willing to bet on it if a survey could be designed to find out.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Then there is a leak introducing another aspect (Iraqi government infiltrated by Iran) of the Iran problem in Iraq:

“...according to one American diplomat and two American intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.”
Followed shortly, no doubt by a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident where we catch Iranians red-handed. One suspects that the “surge” is just another way of saying “It’s time to call a spade a spade and get after Iran.”

Also, there is this. Despite Democrat dithering, the surge is well underway. Meanwhile, the MSM are convinced that the action is in Democratic caucases in D. C. Sigh.

On the other side, the NYT staff is pulling all-nighters crafting the spin that evil Bush is ginning up to attack innocent, well-meaning potential ally Iran.

Fascinating. And totally without any need to consult the MSM gatekeepers.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Under the headline “Tens of Thousands Demand Iraq Withdrawal “ here is the AP reporting on the demonstrations against the war. In a dumb-show of balance, they also report:
“About 40 people staged a counter-protest, including Army Cpl. Joshua Sparling, 25, who lost his leg to a bomb in Iraq. He said the anti-war protesters, especially those who are veterans or who are on active duty, "need to remember the sacrifice we have made and what our fallen comrades would say if they are alive."
Bush reaffirmed his commitment to his planned troop increase in a phone conversation Saturday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The president was in Washington for the weekend. He is often is out of town during big protest days.
"He understands that Americans want to see a conclusion to the war in Iraq and the new strategy is designed to do just that," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.”
There were 773 words about those supporting the demonstration; 173 words in the weak “balance” trailer. Nary a word about the “tens of thousands” who have signed the pledge to withhold contributions to Republican Senators who support the defeatist Democrats. You see, (Editorial decision) the “story” was only about “demonstrations“. In Washington. Today.

Good old MSM. Keeping us informed. Editorial bias in action.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Well I will point out that the 8% that read blogs are the most likely to VOTE, to CONTRIBUTE time or money to campaigns, and, it least in my case, the most HANDSOME, people in America.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well, Joe, if anybody ever called me handsome, the light must have been pretty bad.

The fact that blog readers are more likely to vote is probably true, but not the biggest factor. The real effect would be if, as I suspect, blog readers have a disproportionate influence on how other people vote.
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Well Billy I did say in "my case" about the most handsome....Still I’m not sure about QandO or The Daily Kos influencing 3rd party votes. I’d say they are more "Bell Weathers" as to how others may vote..."As goes Ohio, so goes the Nation...." Rather than we influence other folks.

I mean I guess we do...contributing more, voting more, it follows that we are more likely to be proselytizing the Masses more, too, plus throw in the general handsome nature of Blog readers I guess we’d have undue influence. Still I’d say we represent more the "Cutting Edge of the Chattering Classes" than Town Criers.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
After reading this I was ready to spring into action and comment something like: “The evil MSM would never be caught pointing out like this the possible success of a Bush initiative. Only the blogosphere ...." when I realized that the story was quoting an editorial in the WaPo. GRONK! My knee really hurts. I’m confused. Why would the WaPo point out something that could only make Bush look good?

After some further thought, I concluded that they were setting up a back story for the future. Let’s see...
“Although, as we pointed out in our editorial at the time, sending the carrier seemed to stimulate reactions favorable to our interests, the Bush administration has utterly failed to capitalize on those promising reactions by not initiating diplomatic contacts and therefore....”(has totally screwed up again).

Could they actually just be editorializing favorable developments approvingly? ......Nah.
Written By: notherbob2/robert fulton
URL: http://
Hey all,

I came across this post, among others responding to the Sacramento Bee’s report, and highlighted it in my blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Net Native.

I also called David Poltrack and the Pew Internet and American Life Project to get some more perspective on the numbers.

Check out the story here:
Written By: Monica Guzman
I find it funny that it’s CBS executives touting this 8% number considering that CBS Nightly News is still trying, unsuccessfully, to regain the prestige it lost when the blogosphere did CBS’s fact checking job for it.
You can’t look at the changes that blogging have brought to grass roots campaigns (both real and astroturfed) and party fundraising to realise that this 8% makes a difference. From the Connecticut primary to Dan’s firing to earmark reform the blogosphere has had significant effect on the politics of America.
This 8% has been able to shape the debate in certain arenas. They are not to be scoffed but rather accepted as a genuine voices in the public square.
Written By: B’s Freak
URL: http://

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