Here's a headline of one of today's editorials in the paper: "It looks like most blogs are about 'me'."
It gets worse.
With all the buzz about blogging, there's finally a quantifiable sense of who these Internet traffickers are, and what they're up to. And it's mostly far more ordinary than the online stars who pound away about politics and journalism.
In recent months the nonpartisan Pew research center in Washington surveyed about 7,000 adults about whether they kept or read blogs. It determined that half these people kept their blogs as personal diaries or an outlet for expression. In other words, they had an intended audience of one. Another third do think of blogs as journalism, but they were the most intensive Internet users.
Politics and government were only slightly more popular topics among the bloggers than entertainment, sports and general news.
Still, an impressive 12 million American adults keep blogs, and an estimated 57 million read them.
So the odds are that if you're writing one, somebody else is reading it — even if the topic is "me" media, as one observor described it.
And we traditional journalists have to admit we can't compete with that specialty.
Yes, "there's finally a quantifiable sense" of blog topics and traffic … because Pew took a phone survey. Why bother with Technorati, or Alexa, or blogdex or any of the other Web-based research that has, for years, been capturing actual hard data from the actual Internet? None of that, apparently, is as reliable or scientific as a telephone survey is for producing a "quantifiable sense" (which, I'm guessing, is the opposite of a "qualitative enumeration").
The sweeping generalizations that follow about the value of reading blogs are, at best, muddled (many blogs are mere personal diaries, so we'll dismiss them all as nothing more than that), but far worse is the misleading and inaccurate characterization of "traditional journalism." Traditional journalism would not allow you to write about blogs based solely on the results of a single phone survey. Traditional journalism requires you to, you know, actually read some blogs and see for yourself before writing about them. This is what used to be called "reporting."
I'm eagerly awaiting the Pew-funded telephone survey about paper. I know all the buzz about paper suggests its about politics and journalism, but many people only use it for personal diaries and as an outlet for expression. We won't get a good quantifiable sense of what paper is really used for until we see the results of that phone survey.
Until then, I'll go back to reading blog posts like this one about shopping for makeup and watching football. It's just somebody's personal diary — more "'me' media" — so of course it's not newsworthy.