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
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.