In an article entitled "Americans aren't all agog for blogs," Boston Herald reporter Brett Arends tries to minimize the importance of blogs by citing a new study claiming that "fewer than 2 percent of Americans who go online read blogs once a week or more."
Arends starts off tongue-in-cheek:
"To hear some folks tell it, the insomniac army of bloggers is already inheriting the Earth. Clad in pajamas and armed only with Pringles, cocoa and a keyboard, they sway millions and make the mighty tremble as they tap away into the night.
"The only problem: it isn't quite true."
He compares blog readership to the viewership of ABC or those who read their local paper.
"Blog readership looks paltry against the 70 percent of Americans who watch ABC, 65 percent who read their local paper."
But would he think of denigrating the influence of the New York Times? The 65 percent who read their local paper are not all reading the Times-- hardly. Instead, the New York Times influences the journalists of all those papers and affects the national agenda. Although USA Today has more readers, the NYT has more influence.
Arends obligingly quotes Jay Fitzgerald, author of Hub Blog:
"The New Republic, the National Review, the Nation and other political magazines have enormous influence, but their combined circulation doesn't come close to the readership of the top blogs."
So he admits that the top blogs, in just a few short years, have surpassed the readership of these long-established political journals.
Despite this, he claims that "the 'blogosphere' phenomenon has enjoyed some over-hyping."
Obviously Bill Buckley's magazine will never equal ABC or NBC in terms of eyeballs, but that is not the goal of the magazine. Nor is that the goal of blogs about politics or law, to come close to a Big Three network in audience.
This could be the first of many MSM attempts to push blogs back into their pre-Rather level of influence, by spinning the facts and making an argument more absurd than suggesting Everybody Loves Raymond had more political sway than Meet the Press.