Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bloggers Aren't Very Important

Andrew Sullivan, about as popular a blogger as you'll find, had 11,000,000 page views in January (9 million the previous month). Page views aren't people, of course, but even if they were that comes out to about 350,000 a day. Let's say, by approximation, 0.1% of the American population (not to mention that some of his readers aren't Americans). This means, to put it mildly, that most people don't read Andrew. I'll go out on a limb here and say, most people have never heard of Andrew. And he's one of the biggest around, I repeat.

For all the self congratulatory stuff bloggers like to write about the demise of the mainstream media and all that, maybe the case isn't sealed yet.


Anonymous said...

the greatest attraction the mainstream media had for me was what they call "long journalism" - Der Spiegel used to have it in German and it vanished ages ago. The American kind has become rarer and rarer over the last two years or so and the pieces that appear obviously lack the editor - none of the recent ones I read manages to be as satisfying a read and as rounded as they used to be. If you want any idea how glorious it was dive into the archive of The Atlantic.

Therefore I guess that even the stars of the stars of journalism aren't as great as they or their publishers considered them to be without scrutiny prior to publication.

Let's assume I am right and the mainstream media have first thinned out into almost non-existence their non-star, non-visable staff then I wonder how they will get back readers who read who like to get something thoroughly explained over pages and pages of text
- btw I heard the iPad is different from the Kindle because Newspapers can be presented in "cross-media" style on it

but maybe in the end it all turns out to the good and I am wrong in fearing that pictures/videos are even better at misleading/manipulating people than text is.

Marc R said...

As they used to say about the Velvet Underground, only 35,000 people bought their first record but all of those people started a band.

Similarly, maybe only 350,000 people read Sullivan's blog, but everybody in the broader media reads it and is influenced by it.

And, according to news reports, Obama reads it. He's more than just 1 in 350,000.

Yaacov said...

I read it, too. But I'm not particularly influenced. If all those folks are, it's because they want to be. Obama, I agree, is certainly not 1 of 350,000. Yet is he influenced? I rather doubt it, actually. He seems slowly to be learning that the things he hears by virtue of being president may be more important than the fluf in the media. At least that's my impression regarding his foreign policy, which is beginning to look rather unlike what Andrew would like.

You're more fundamental point - the few influence to an inordinate degree - is not convincing to my mind. In democracies, eventually what the majority wants is sort of what they get. Elites and opinion-makers can change that only to a limited degree.

Marc R said...

Yaacov, I don't doubt that you are not influenced by Sullivan's blog. I'd like to say that I'm not either, at least as to his increasingly anti-Israel views.

But concerning areas that I have less information and passion for, such as gay marriage or torture, I am undoubtedly influenced. Indeed, to suggest that readers of something that is repeated over and over, like an anti-Israel bias, will not be influenced is to deny the effectiveness of advertising. I can't go that far.

Most of the media, and most Americans, really know little about Israel. They can be, and I'm afraid are, easily swayed.

Lee Ratner said...

This is not something I find encouraging Yaacov. You are right when you say that Bloggers are not very important but unfortunately mainstream media isn't very important either. Most Americans do not read newspapers or even watch TV news anymore. Fox likes to boast about their waiting but countless millions of more Americans are watching Idol or Survivor or something else.

Quite frankly, a lot of Americans really don't care that much about politics or national and world events. What news they are interested in is at best celebrity gossip. In a country as powerful as America this is unfortunate to say the least because it means that most people are going around oblivious to what politicians on all sides of American politics are doing. This could result in immense damage to the United States or the world if handles wrongly.