At Last! Trend Stories on the Decline of the Blog!
Well, you knew the blog was over as soon the big media boys got into the game. Here at Raw HQ, we made a formal announcement on Day One that our arrival would assure the completion of the phenomenon.
Now come the dreaded trend stories reporting that blogs have peaked, nobody's reading us, the kids have moved on to flogging, etc. Remember, sports fans, actual facts can be superfluous in the construction of the perfect trend piece. You need your three strong anecdotes, your blisteringly perceptive quote from a Reliable Authority, and you're halfway home.
This report from the obviously biased but very well-documented folks at Technorati would have us believe that everything's hunky dory, that Americans continue to discover this medium and relish its expansion, and so on.
And here those same researchers make the case that the entry of big media companies like this here Washington Post thingy has changed the color of the blogosphere, and has once again shown us that many, if not most, folks still enjoy having some credible authority behind the information we consume. That same study shows, however, that there's no danger of the big boys pushing the grassroots folks out of blogging's Top 100.
But a new study by Gallup says hold on, folks, this blogging thing may have peaked: The report, "Blog Readership Bogged Down," cautions that "the growth in the number of U.S. blog readers was somewhere between nil and negative in the past year." As reported in the Chicago Tribune,
"Gallup finds only 9 percent of Internet users saying they frequently read blogs, with 11 percent reading them occasionally. Thirteen percent of Internet users rarely bother, and 66 percent never read blogs. Those numbers, essentially unchanged from a year earlier, put blog-reading dead last among Gallup's measures of 13 common Internet activities. E-mailing ranks first (with 87 percent of users doing so frequently or occasionally), followed by checking news and weather (72), shopping (52) and making travel plans (also 52)."
This rings true: More people doing more of the same. We do tend to settle into patterns and stick to them.
That said, surveys like the ones we're seeing here are often a whole lot of fairly useless information. These numbers assume that folks answering the surveys have the same definitions of a blog in their heads and that the character of the blog is relatively stable, which it probably isn't.
You know we're still in the relatively early phase of the phenomenon because the utopian fervor and propaganda is still thriving. Class reading assignment for today: This thoughtul but ultimately wildly optimistic and self-important treatise by Glenn Reynolds.
He's of course right that big media companies are leaping into the blog business because it's the hot new thing. But he makes the all too common mistake of lumping blogs from big media companies together with the newsgathering work of traditional journalism and concluding that mainstream journalism will peter out. Certainly we're in the midst of a wave of costcutting that diminishes the MSM's capacity to tout our distinction as the primo reservoir of fact in a sea of opinion.
But smart journalism companies will cling for dear life to that good old newsgathering function because the central truth of the Internet age in the news world is that blogs and other newfangled creations rely utterly on the relatively small number of outlets that still do original, expensive reporting. Yes, bloggers are a new and valuable corrective, a check on abuses within and beyond the media world. And yes, some bloggers do some reporting. But there's no business model that puts bloggers in position to do the pricey work of a newsroom of 800 full-time journalists.
The trick for media companies that really value their heritage and purpose will be to figure out ways to sell that concept, to rejigger their newsrooms to serve as a resource for rather than as a rhetorical enemy of bloggers, and to reach readers in forms that fit with the harried, flitting lives of contemporary citizens of an atomized world.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Bert | March 1, 2006 9:36 AM
Posted by: Frankey | March 1, 2006 9:39 AM
Posted by: dwith | March 1, 2006 9:47 AM
Posted by: John | March 1, 2006 9:51 AM
Posted by: Frankey to John | March 1, 2006 10:09 AM
Posted by: Jonathan | March 1, 2006 10:12 AM
Posted by: Don Williams | March 1, 2006 10:33 AM
Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 1, 2006 10:59 AM
Posted by: Don Williams | March 1, 2006 11:15 AM
Posted by: md 20/400 | March 1, 2006 11:19 AM
Posted by: Stick | March 1, 2006 11:24 AM
Posted by: the highway scribe | March 1, 2006 11:46 AM
Posted by: DC Parent | March 1, 2006 1:33 PM
Posted by: maggie | March 1, 2006 1:33 PM
Posted by: TBG | March 1, 2006 5:47 PM
Posted by: Pam | March 2, 2006 11:57 AM
Posted by: floggy bottom .. | March 2, 2006 5:52 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.