Not There Yet

7 comments March 13th, 2007at 11:31am Posted by Eli

For all the excitement about the blogosphere as an alternative media poised to shove print and broadcast into well-deserved oblivion, it is worth remembering that we still have a long ways to go (some of us more than others):

[M]ore than half of the adults surveyed [in a recent NYT/CBS poll about blogs], 58 percent, said they never visited political blogs. Of those who do, 24 percent said they visit them rarely and 14 percent occasionally. Only 4 percent said it was a frequent occurrence.

So that’s 4% of the population who are regular blogreaders, and 18% who read them more than once in a blue moon. That’s actually a bit more than I expected, but I still don’t think that’s enough to be a threat to the traditional media, or a large enough voting bloc to swing a major election (that last is admittedly arguable, but ask yourself how many out of that 18% aren’t well-informed political junkies who would be voting the same way even if there were no blogs).

I believe the major holdup is the medium: blogs cannot be passively consumed like television and radio. You can’t just turn on the TV and let them wash over you; you have to actively seek them out and navigate through them. In addition to that, there’s stil the relative newness of the technology – blogs are still very much on the fringes of mainstream popular culture.

What the best political blogs do have going for them is compelling content: passion, great writing, deep analysis, interactivity (if they have comments), and a wealth of information that is nowhere to be found in the mainstream media.

If you’re inclined to spend a lot of time on the internets and don’t mind a bit of fumbling around, it’s not hard to get hooked if you find one of the good ones. It’s those ifs that are tricky.

Some additional poll numbers worth noting:

? 57% of poll respondents under 30 read political blogs, and only 24% of respondents 65 and older, which reflects the cultural transition to a new technology and medium.

? Exactly 50% of male read political blogs, but only 34% of female ones. Why is this?

? Almost half of all liberal and moderate respondents read political blogs, but only 35% of conservative ones. Is this because conservatives already have traditional media that caters to their beliefs (Fox News, hate radio), or is it more of a cultural or generational difference?

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Politics,Polls

7 Comments

  • 1. spocko  |  March 13th, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for that analysis, and It is one of the things that I’ve noted about radio. Radio is listened to ALL OVER, in your car while you are doing other things. But TV you can sit back an let it wash over you. TV is called a “lean back” medium. Computers and blogs are a “lean forward” medium. That means that they are going to attract people who WANT to lean forward.

    Radio is such a powerful medium. Remember that study about political ads? If you were republican and watched a republican ad, your mind was in “agreeable mode” if you were a democrat and watched a republican ad your mind went into “critical thinking” mode.

    The hypnosis effect of the right wing radio is important because it places ideas and developed arguments in the minds of listeners. This is the way that Rush and Hannity work.
    To a lesser extent the third tier hosts.Tthe thing that people miss is that the liberals listen to hate radio too. Why? Because it makes them angry. They are able to use that anger as a drug like caffeine.

    But these days liberals can get their caffeine from REGULAR “MSM” news. But there are still a bunch of men listening to the radio because it pisses them off. They say they are listening to hear “the other side” and that is part of it, but I think that there is also the rev up of anger that plays a role.

  • 2. Eli  |  March 13th, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    But there are still a bunch of men listening to the radio because it pisses them off. They say they are listening to hear “the other side” and that is part of it, but I think that there is also the rev up of anger that plays a role.

    What’s really scary is that even if they’re trying to resist, they might still be absorbing right-wing frames and talking points without realizing it. I wonder what percentage of concern trolls are simply liberals who have been unwittingly corrupted by listening to too much poison?

  • 3. ellroon  |  March 13th, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    I used to read the Los Angeles Times from cover to cover, listen to CNN, BBC news. I found the local tv news silly. I was absolutely NOT political. Then Bush happened, 9/11 happened and I became very confused. I was almost literally forced away from the paper and the tv to go on to the net to search for the truth.
    I was noting articles and sending outraged emails to my friends and family. Blogging was a natural development from there.
    I’ve not been aware that women are a minority on the blogs, maybe it’s because I hang out with liberals and they don’t give a shit who you are as long as you’re an intelligent human being.

  • 4. spocko  |  March 13th, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Eli. “they might still be absorbing right-wing frames and talking points without realizing it.”
    EXACTLY. I was thinking about this in regards to Rush. His work is based on not just hitting on something he sees as bad, but comparing it to something that is GOOD. So it’s not JUST “those lazy welfare cheats” are bad. It’s “We all agree that hard work and not waiting for hand outs is good.” In Mississippi they are working hard and working for themselves, while those lazy people in NO are just waiting for hand outs.

    That reinforces the negative but ALSO puts in a POSITIVE note that just gives people a way to feel better about themselves for their negative views.

    I’ve always felt that the talk radio drumbeat is hypnotic and it slides into people’s heads on the heals of the pissed off comments but really on the strength of the positive comments.
    So while the liberal concern troll doesn’t want to believe he is a racist when he is given a good reason for his underlying racism (by Rush) then he can say, “I’m not a racist, those people in Mississippi (aka white republicans) are doing fine they are just pulling themselves up from their boot straps. Not like those lazy N.O. people (aka black democrats.) Now when you look and compare who and what the demographics are, you will see lots of contradictions in the kind of disasters the reasons that N.O. is different from Mississippi (flood v. wind) and who is really responsible. Some of it is class issues and money issues.

    Have I told you lately how insightful you are?
    Thanks for posting.

  • 5. Eli  |  March 13th, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    I was noting articles and sending outraged emails to my friends and family. Blogging was a natural development from there.

    Heh. Same here. I was forwarding articles and making pissed-off commentary, and finally realized that I might as well just put it on my blog. I wish I had started blogging before my epic rant about how everything Bush claims to be is a lie…

    That reinforces the negative but ALSO puts in a POSITIVE note that just gives people a way to feel better about themselves for their negative views.

    I’ve always felt that the talk radio drumbeat is hypnotic and it slides into people’s heads on the heals of the pissed off comments but really on the strength of the positive comments.
    So while the liberal concern troll doesn’t want to believe he is a racist when he is given a good reason for his underlying racism

    Hmm… I wonder if they’re only telling themselves that they listen because they like being angry, or because they want to know what the enemy is saying. Maybe, deep down, it’s because it feeds some ugly little part of their id that gets off on the validation.

  • 6. spocko  |  March 14th, 2007 at 1:12 am

    Maybe, deep down, it’s because it feeds some ugly little part of their id that gets off on the validation.
    I think that has something to do with it. Janeane Garafolo used to calling talking to their “Inner Archie Bunker”.

    Norman Lear made Archie as a character to ridicule but he said he was surprise when people bragged that “they were just like him”
    Same with the creator of Bevis and Butthead, Mike Judge.
    I remember an interview where he talked about how people thought it was a complement to be like those two.

    Rush gives them PERMISSION to be bad.

  • 7. Eli  |  March 14th, 2007 at 11:01 am

    I remember an interview where he talked about how people thought it was a complement to be like those two.

    I think there’s some kind of default assumption that the main character is automatically a good guy. Which is especially worrisome in shows like, say, 24. Or pretty much any reality show you can name. When bad behavior is presented sympathetically on TV or radio, it becomes legitimized, even idealized.


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