This week, Technorati is publishing its yearly State of the Blogosphere report, the biggest annual summary of blog stats and demographics. The State of the Blogosphere’s first part, published today, focuses on blogger demographics and the blogosphere's relationship with traditional media. Forty percent of bloggers have graduate degrees, and the average blogging household makes over $75,000 per year. Overwhelmingly, they are male: only one in three bloggers is female. While the gender difference is problematic, the main line of criticism levied against blogs – especially during the last year as print outlets seem to be shutting down daily – is of their legitimacy in comparison to traditional media outlets. The study deflates that criticism.
“Despite being perceived by some as enemies of the traditional media, bloggers actually carry a journalistic pedigree,” writes Technorati’s Matt Sussman. “35 percent of all respondents have worked within the traditional media as a writer, reporter, producer, or on-air personality.”
More than one-quarter of bloggers (27 percent) still work in traditional media, with 24 percent of those blogging separately from their roles in traditional media departments.
Obviously, bloggers with ties to traditional media should be training other bloggers how to do journalism correctly, i.e., teaching them the skill sets learned in J-school and in the newsroom. Ultimately, traditional media was not about fact checking, but about owning the sole means of production, which is obviously no longer the case. Mistaking industrial monopoly for intellectual authority is not helping journalism transition into its future.
While blogs are being taken much more seriously than they were a few years ago, only 35 percent of bloggers rely on them as their primary source of news and information, according to Technorati. This despite the fact that 46 percent believe that blogs are just as valid media sources as traditional outlets.
Will this change? The spate of layoffs at traditional news outlets has led to a lot of high-profile journalists moving over to the blogosphere. With this infusion of cultural capital, institutional authority should be quick to follow.
That's how change in knowledge-production networks tends to work.