Here’s a story with plenty of polls. Despite the many scalps the blogosphere has collected over the past few years (Trent Lott, Dan Rather, Eason Jordan, etc.), most Americans could care less about the blog world, recent polls find. While 76 percent of Americans are on the internet, only 26 percent are “familiar” or “very familiar” with blogs. Only 7 percent say they read blogs a few times a week. Forty-eight percent say they never do. These numbers are based on a telephone poll of 1,008 American adults conducted by CNN/USA Today/Gallup.
It seems blogging and reading blogs remain an elite activity. Therefore, so any claims of blogging representing “the masses” against “the mainstream media” need to be viewed skeptically. I’m more inclined to view bloggers as an “outsider elite” lined up against an “insider elite.” While bloggers may not be credentialed press or television personalities, they may be (the good ones anyway) good writers, deep thinkers, and topic specialists who are able to bring more to the table than your typical journalism school graduate. My calling them elites is not to denigrate what bloggers have done—they have indeed earned every scalp they’ve collected—but bloggers are barely more mainstream than the “mainstream media.” Today’s bloggers may be the vanguard of a real populist shift, but this poll reminds us that the power of blogs has not yet fully arrived. Indeed, if only 26 percent of Americans (and a third of web users) are familiar with your work, then there is even more work ahead of you than behind you, and any blog triumphalism is premature.