I originally wrote this for January 9 issue of Politics In Minnesota: The Weekly Report:
A March 2005 Harris Interactive survey found that two-fifths (44%) of online American adults have read a political blog and more than a quarter (27%) read them once a month or more. The survey also found that the more educated you are the more likely you were to read political blogs; that most (53%) political blog readers spend less than 15 minutes during a typical reading session; that men (48%) are more likely to read political blogs than women (40%); that liberals (52%) are more likely to read political blogs than their conservative (48%) or moderate (46%) counterparts; and that liberals (13%) are significantly more likely to post comments at political blogs than are conservatives (7%) or moderates (7%).
A recent AOL survey of bloggers reveals that political bloggers are a small subset of the blogosphere by dicing up the motivation of bloggers: Almost 50% of bloggers blog as self-therapy while only 16% do it because they’re interested in journalism, 12% to stay ahead in news and gossip, and a mere 8% to expose political information.
The AOL survey also found that while most bloggers read other blogs for entertainment (53.3%), a significant percentage (43.9%) read other blogs to get a "different, fresh perspective on the news," and 22.1% did so because "it’s the easiest way to get the latest news." These findings may help explain the viral effect blogs sometimes have on news stories the mainstream media may not consider significant but percolate up
through the blogosphere due to bloggers reading others’ blogs and then giving their own take on the same story on their blog.
In January last year, Pew did a
Blogging survey which found that though eight million American adults have
created blogs, that blog readership stands at 27% of Internet users, and 5% of
Internet users use blog aggregators or feed readers to get information online,
62% of Internet users do not know what a blog is.
A recent USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future survey found that more people believe that the Internet can be used to gain political power. The survey found that in 2005, 39.8% of Internet users agree that going online can give people more political power, that’s up from 27.3% in the previous study. Additionally, 61.7% of respondents, regardless of Internet access, agree that going online has become important to political campaigns.
In this year’s study, 41.1% of Internet users went online for information about the presidential campaign and 87.2% were satisfied with the information about the presidential election they found. Of those people, 91.1% sought information about issues or candidates they supported and 77.4% sought information about issues and candidates about which they were undecided.
People are becoming more skeptical about online information, according to the study: "In 2005, 48.8% of users say that most or all of the information online is reliable and accurate, a decline from the peak of 58% in 2001." People are far more likely to trust the reliability of established media organizations (78.5%) or government (78.2%) web sites than they are information posted by individuals (11.5%) but that’s up slightly from the previous study (8.6%).
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 63 million Americans turned to the Internet for political news and information in 2004, up from 34.5 million in 2000 and just 7 million in 1996.