IT Facts cites a recent Gallup poll about blogs:
Just 9% of Internet users read blogs frequently, 11% do so occasionally, 13% rarely bother, and 66% never do.
Jason Fry's article in the WSJ [free access] puts the Gallup poll in perspective and shows how Daniel Gross's Slate article on the "Twilight of the Blogs" falls short of capturing what is going on with blogs and new media. Fry writes:
Blogs will be everywhere in the near-future, but singling them out amid the Internet tumult will seem odd, like talking about one's favorite commerce or community sites as a group. Media companies will use blogs to track fast-moving stories and bring some much-needed attitude and voice to their brands. Corporations will use them for updates and conversations with their own employees or customers. A handful of blog empires such as Gawker Media will create new ones regularly, building brands around the hits and shuttering the misses. And yes, lots of people will build their own blogs to issue family updates, share political views or offer their own thoughts on life. (Some of them will even attract loyal readers, more exposure and make a little money.) And I hope Greg [Zorn] and I will still be demonstrating we're the planet's most-insane Mets fans.
Blogs are just the next generation of Web pages--far easier tools of production in the hands of the masses. The "chattering class" has been further enabled to create and distribute content of multiple media types with little friction.
When anyone can be an author/publisher (nearly 30 million blogs, according to Technorati's count, although a far smaller number have persistence and broader influence), how do you know which blogs and bloggers are more trustworthy. It's not exactly straightforward, but communities of interest tend to their gardens, weeding out those who threaten the overall crop, lacking in credibility, transparency and other virtues valued by the collective group.
That's not to say that all bloggers and communities strive for objectivity and the highest standards of journalism, as practiced over many centuries. It's no different than the analog world. The question "Are journalists bloggers?,"and vice versa, misses the point. Reputation and authority are bestowed by the community, not by a title or imprimatur, and data exists that can aid in determining who is trustworthy and in what context...