The age of blogs by the numbers

The age of blogs by the numbers

Web geeks have been jawing and preening about the blog revolution for so long now--it feels like it must have started, oh, sometime during the Ford administration--that it's easy to overlook the fact that blogs are only now coming on the radar of the masses. Time's coining a "blog of the year" award for 2004 has spawned loads of localized blogging stories around the country like the one that ran on KARE 11 last month. What's still lacking is a sense of scale.

Item: A recent poll says only 44 percent of Americans have heard of blogs.

We decided to check out the web rankings of some prominent--or at least prolific--blogs, locally and nationally, versus those of professional media in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. The following list was compiled using Alexa's website rankings. The numbers refer to traffic rankings among all websites, and we've italicized the blog pages; please excuse the ragged margins.

                                3-mo. avg                             28           
New York Times                    90                      290
Drudge                               321
LA Times                            902
Star Tribune                     1,766
Lew Rockwell                    3,445
DailyKos                           4,633 
Village Voice                     5,612
Instapundit                       8,698
Counterpunch                   9,356
Powerline                        10,539
TPM (J. Marshall)             13,838                     15,498
Michelle Malkin                20,334                   20,833
City Pages                     23,200
Hugh Hewitt                   23,561                      27,930
Captain's Quarters          32,697
Cursor                          62,501                    217,486
The Rake                     249,037
Fraters Libertas            277,000  
Shot in the Dark           496,817
Norwegianity             2,307,380

What have we learned here today? There are three blogs on the list with more traffic than the country's highest-traffic local alternative weekly, the Village Voice. That's big traffic, but it's hardly commensurate in sheer scale with the "blogs revolution" hype. To put this in a City Pages/alt-weekly frame of reference, one could say that most of the relative handful of well-known national blogs, right-wing and left-wing alike, have national readership figures somewhere between the mainly local figures for traffic at the Village Voice (the most visited alt-weekly site) and City Pages, the main weekly in a market that usually ranks between 13th and 15th in the country in size. Readership of the handful of frontline politics blogs is impressive, and growing--and not exactly massive in absolute terms. It will be interesting to see how they're received as the "grassroots" practice of blogging is progressively coopted by the same old institutional forces who control corporate media as well, often acting invisibly behind the wall of anonymous domain registration.      

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