Much ado about little? I think not.

CBS MarketWatch’s Frank Barnako asks the usual: “Why has MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann started a blog about politics? Almost no one reads them.”

“The audience reach of even the largest of the political blogs is tiny compared to other major political news sources,” said Max Kalehoff, a spokesman for HitWise, a Web traffic measurement and analysis company. In a recent week, traffic to was almost 650 percent greater than that of the most popular such blog.
We’ve all heard this far too many times before, and it’s getting pretty sad. This emphasis on mass marketing — where size is all that counts — reveals deep ignorance despite Bernako’s conclusion.
The key to blogs’ popularity in the media is not the number of readers, it’s their quality. “Their collective influence seems to be because a few (writers) have become political insiders and are successfully reaching other key, intensive niche audiences,” Kalehoff said.
The problem with this conclusion is that it’s just too shallow and assumes a Modernist/Mass Market/Reach-Frequency paradigm. I’ll grant that a few blogs ARE about influence, but the vast majority of the blogosphere is just about people talking with each other — conversations about this, that or the other thing. I suppose it’s fair to conclude that all communication is about influence, given that one intent of many conversations is to let your opinion be known and perhaps sway your neighbor. But that’s not what is argued by folks such as Mr. Barnako. His point of reference (reach=influence) is the problem, and it’s a big problem, because this new media development is blossoming outside the illusions of the MSM (MainStreamMedia). That’s what makes it a very BIG deal.

Opinions ARE being changed and neighbors ARE being swayed, but not in the usual and customary ways. The people themselves decide their own influences these days, and that’s something MSMers will never get. Blogs are a bottom-up phenomenon, and may they always be so.


  1. Matt C. Wilson says

    If Olbermann covers politics the way he covered Sportscenter, I am so subscribed. 🙂

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