Blog Readership Spiked in 2004
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Despite the fact that 62 percent of all Internet users say they still do not know what a blog is, readership of the personal online postings took a dramatic leap in 2004, at least partially driven by the national elections.
According to the latest findings of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, blog readership jumped 58 percent from February to November last year. Pew says that calculates out to 32 million of 127 American Internet users are now reading blogs.
Of those blog readers, approximately 9 percent (2.8 million) said they read political blogs "frequently" or "sometimes" during the presidential campaign. Not surprisingly, politically active Internet users were more likely than others to read political blogs, although Pew says the sites were "relatively" popular with younger Internet users and those with broadband connections.
The study also shows blog creation continues to show steady growth. Pew first began asking Internet users about blog creations in the spring of 2002. In June of that year, three percent of users reported creating a blog. By the beginning of 2004, that figure had grown to five percent and by November it had jumped to seven percent (approximately eight million users).
Pew says blog creators are most likely men (57 percent), broadband users (70 percent), Internet veterans (82 percent have been online for six or more years), relatively well off financially (42 percent live in households earning over $50,000) and well educated (39 percent have college or graduate degrees). However, according to Pew, that's not the whole picture.
"Since our survey in February, there has been greater-than-average growth in blog readership among women, minorities, those between the ages of 30 and 49, and those with home dialup connections," said the report.
In the spring of 2003, Pew found 11 percent of Internet users reading blogs. By February of 2004, the number had grown to 17 percent and by the November elections, the blog readers climbed to 27 percent. Of those, 12 percent posted a comment to a blog.
In addition to impressive growth numbers for blog creators and readers, five percent of those surveyed report using news aggregators such as RSS feeds to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online.
"This is a first-time measurement from our surveys and is an indicator that this application is gaining an impressive foothold," Pew reports.
The Pew results come from two nationwide telephone surveys. One was in the field between Nov. 4 and Nov. 22 and involved interviews with 1,324 Internet users. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. The other was conducted between Nov. 23 and Nov. 30 and involved interviews with 537 users. That has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.