Bloggers Blew It: Much Posting, Little Impact

Let’s gore a sacred cow. Or lets let Frank Barnako of CBS MarketWatch’s eponymous Frank Barnako’s Internet Daily do it. The headline above tops the commentary leading his report on Wednesday.

“No one reads blogs,” Barnako writes. Yes, Technorati is tracking 4 million blogs, RSS is no longer “a geek secret and now it’s a bolt-on to My Yahoo!”, and Blogads claims to be delivering 100 million banner ad impression per month. “All that may be true. It’s just that after the presidential election, it appears to me that the only readers of blogs … are bloggers! They are a good group. Educated and engaged. But they’re also like mice in a rotating cage: running in place, bumping into the same old people.” Examining Comscore’s online traffic surveys, Barnako notes that, “when the most popular political blog draws less than 270,000 visitors on Election Day, you’ve got to ask, ‘What’s the point?'”

Those are fighting words to blogger fundamentalists and might cause some a knee-jerk reaction to accuse Barnako of ‘not getting it’ or perhaps of being a ‘big media’ guy simply because of the brand CBS behind his column. But Barnako gets it and has been for a long time. He’s a blogger, a Web publishing pioneer who helped found USATODAY.com and helped found Helped found Quincy Jones’ World Music Web venture), and has been reporting for CBS News radio network about online since before the Internet was opened to the public. Barnako concludes, “Bottom line: Political blogging is like Ralph Nader. Nobody pays attention.”

4 thoughts on “Bloggers Blew It: Much Posting, Little Impact

  1. This is a quote from Micro Persuasion. So, who is right?

    “To some degree Frank is right. The blogosophere is a “talk amongst yourselves” medium. But he misses a huge point. The media love blogs. Just look how many reporters are writing about blogs today alone! They gorge on them. Heck ClickZ editor Pamela Parker recently told PR professionals that she and her team check the blogs more than they check the wires. So please don’t buy into Frank’s rant. If there’s any reason that PR professionals need to pay attention to blogs, it’s this – the media read them. That’s all you need to know.”

  2. The answer is simple:

    If you want to reach consumers, don’t use blogs. But if you want to reach reporters, use blogs.

    Remember how the information feeding chain works. Reporters are always looking for tips about new stories or new ideas. That’s why they look at blogs (and also talk to sources, experts, average citizens, etc.). But that doesn’t mean that consumers do the same or even care about it.

    The focus of Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion is on how public relations executives can use blogs to influence reporters. For that purpose, blogs are great. Yet, the focus of Frank Barnako at CBS MarketWatch is on whether or not blogs influence consumers. For that purpose, blogs aren’t very good.

  3. Is Barnako goring a sacred cow or just a straw man? What precisely did the bloggers “blow”? He considers 260,000 visitors to Daily Kos on election day proof of the irrelevance of blogs (260,000 = “No one reads blogs” Huh?) Was anyone really expecting a bandwidth-busting 5 million visitors on Kos or Instapundit?
    And what “impact” failed to materialize (despite the blogs’ apparent responsibility for killing a rally on Wall Street by posting exit poll numbers)?

    No, Barnako _doesn’t_ get it. He bought into the breathless blogtopian hype, which is as far away from “getting it” as thinking that there’s no place in journalism for blogs.

  4. Curt:

    I don’t think Barnako was punching a ‘straw man.’ He was striking political bloggers’ own pre-election assumptions that they would have a direct affect on the 2004 U.S. elections.

    See:
    http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=bloggers+elections today for stories which mainly focus on how and why bloggers got it wrong and had little but bad effects (wrong polling data, etc.) on the election.

    Frank Baranako’s Internet Daily did publish an awful lot of pre-election stories about how bloggers would have a direct effect, which perhaps means, as you say, that “He bought into the breathless blogtopian hype”. But most mainstream media unfortunately did, so down that path by parrotting the bloggers owns statements that there would be such affects.

    Buying into the hype has been a big problem for technology journalism during the past ten years. Obviouisly, during the Internet Bubble Era. But more recently about RSS and blogging (for example, the hype about bloggers at the U.S. political conventions, where their blogging had little effect.). I think this is perhaps created by reporters who hope to be the first to report ‘The Next Big Thing’ and instead predicts that some new technology (blogging, RSS, etc.) will have an major affect — despite there not being any data or experiences or events yet which would lead to such conclusions. I it ‘crystal ball reporting’ and it isn’t journalism.

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