Survey Says: Blogs Not Replacing Journalism Just Yet

(CBS/AP)
A new study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project defines the rough size of the blogosphere at about 12 million U.S. bloggers and 57 million blog readers. Those are pretty large numbers on the face of it, but not quite as impressive when broken down a little more in-depth. Here are some the findings, released yesterday:

  • 54% of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else; 44% say they have published elsewhere.
  • 54% of bloggers are under the age of 30.
  • Women and men have statistical parity in the blogosphere, with women representing 46% of bloggers and men 54%.
  • 76% of bloggers say a reason they blog is to document their personal experiences and share them with others.
  • 64% of bloggers say a reason they blog is to share practical knowledge or skills with others.
  • When asked to choose one main subject, 37% of bloggers say that the primary topic of their blog is "my life and experiences."
  • Other topics ran distantly behind: 11% of bloggers focus on politics and government; 7% focus on entertainment; 6% focus on sports; 5% focus on general news and current events; 5% focus on business; 4% on technology; 2% on religion, spirituality or faith; and additional smaller groups who focus on a specific hobby, a health problem or illness, or other topics.
  • So, while blogging may be a discussion, it's one dominated by "me." Slate's Jack Schafer digs a little deeper and finds what the study has to say about the notion that bloggers function largely as journalists:
    I'm not disparaging bloggers, so please don't treat me to a high-tech lynching. But this study shows that at this early point in the blog era, the great mass of bloggers aren't set on replacing reporters. The top 100 or top 1,000 may consider themselves "citizen journalists" of one sort or another, but the survey finds that 65 percent of bloggers don't consider their output journalism at all. They're just expressing themselves in a leisurely fashion, inspired by a personal experience (78 percent, says the survey), and their blogs are a "hobby" or "something I do, but not something I spend a lot of time on" (84 percent).

    Again, I'm not disparaging hobbies or navel-gazing: I have hobbies I can bore you with, and I navel-gaze. But the Pew report indicates that only a tiny fraction of current bloggers have any ambition to fulfill the blogs über alles designs some media theorists plotted for them.