Gallup Poll on Blogs By Mike Blumenthal for www.mysterypollster.com March 11, 2005 My blogger status compels me to report as a "must read" a new survey on blogging released today by the Gallup Organization. Under the headline "Bloggers Not Yet in the Big Leagues," Gallup's Lydia Saad concludes: Relatively few Americans are generally familiar with the phenomenon of blogging...Three-quarters of the U.S. public uses the Internet at work, school, or home, but only one in four Americans are either very familiar or somewhat familiar with blogs...More to the point, fewer than one in six Americans (15%) read blogs regularly (at least a few times a month). Just 12% of Americans read blogs dealing specifically with politics this often. The analysis is worth reading in full, as Gallup's data will provide an important benchmark for tracking the blogging phenomenon. However, though Saad delivers a powerful rebuke to anyone who might confuse blogs with one of the "dominant sources of information for the American public," I fear she misses the point. MP has never been much of a believer in "blogger triumphalism," the notion that blogs will inexorably destroy or supplant the "mainstream media." I tend to agree with this observation from former Salon.com managing editor Scott Rosenberg (as quoted by Jay Rosen): Typically, the debate about blogs today is framed as a duel to the death between old and new journalism...This debate is stupidly reductive -- an inevitable byproduct of (I'll don my blogger-sympathizer hat here) the traditional media's insistent habit of framing all change in terms of a "who wins and who loses?" calculus. The rise of blogs does not equal the death of professional journalism. The media world is not a zero-sum game. Increasingly, in fact, the Internet is turning it into a symbiotic ecosystem -- in which the different parts feed off one another and the whole thing grows. No, the collective reach of blogs is nowhere near that of television or print media, but focusing on the relatively small percentages misses the rapidly growing influence of the blog readership in absolute terms. 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. The most remarkable finding is the pattern we would expect in blog readership by age that gets buried near the end of the report. According to Gallup, monthly readership of all blogs (not just political) is 15% overall, but much greater among younger Americans: Monthly-plus readership of blogs is 21% among 18- to 29-year olds, 16% among those 30 to 49, 14% among those 50 to 64 and just 7% among those 65 and older.... The age gap in blog reading is particularly noteworthy because it is a complete reversal of the typical age pattern gap for news consumption. 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) [emphasis added]. Sounds like almost like something of a "revolution" to me.