Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blogs: Bigger Than Jesus

Hey, that ain't my line, but Dan Rubin's, resident blogger and Blinq columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, recapping the year in blogs.

(This would be a good time to note that the Inky asked its staff and beat writers to take up occasional blogging and, because it wasn't in their Newspaper Guild contracts, all promptly shat themselves and had a communal establishment journalism prissyfit -- except Rubin, who does wonderful work (second only to his paper's remarkable investigative team).... And they wonder why Knight-Ridder's having a tough time attracting a buyer.)
Nine percent of American adults who surf the Web write blogs, according to Pew's Internet and American Life Project - that's 13 million people. And 27 percent of Internet users read them - 39 million Americans. That's only counting those 18 years old and up. Millions more young people post Web logs - diaries, sounding boards, screeds, commentaries that draw commentary - in places such as Xanga, LiveJournal, AOL and MySpace.

Group blogs took off in influence. The lefty Huffington Post got out of the gate first, in May, trailed by the more right-thinking Pajamas Media, which wound up shooting itself in its footies by changing its name to something that another site had already claimed. And then changing back.

Newspapers including The Inquirer launched blogs this year. The Washington Post began to include links to blogger reactions next to stories displayed online. MSNBC and other broadcasters began programs celebrating bloggers' work. Topix.net, whose investors include Knight Ridder, The Inquirer's corporate parent, has started allowing readers to post their own news.

Lee Rainie, director of Pew project, said technological innovations in blogging software accelerated growth, and changed the way people viewed the world. Video blogs, or vlogs, surfaced a year ago when a tsunami devastated parts of Southeast Asia, and grew in popularity during the Gulf Coast hurricanes. People learned the ease of posting images onto blogs from mobile phones - called mobloggings.

"The mainstream media opened its arms to bloggers in crisis moments in all sorts of ways," Rainie says. "We have entered this melding stage of thinking... . We've been through anger and fighting. Now we are in the wary-embrace stage. At some point, it will be wholesale endorsement."

And I still want a blogging bishop in this country. They're even doing that in the Philippines now, people -- the president of the CBCP, the country's episcopal conference, has started his own blog -- but for some reason, not yet in the Good Ol' USA.

I can only wonder why. Might be postcard time....