Culture

Update on an Accurate Tallying of Bloggers

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Earlier today I uncritically passed along a numbers-dump by pollster Mark Penn claiming that there were 20 million Americans blogging, of whom exactly 452,000 were using it as their primary source of income. As I know well but conveniently forgot, there are people who, unlike Mark Penn, have studied these numbers closely over the years, and they say Penn's full of it. Here's the longtime Salon tech journalist Scott Rosenberg, author of a new book on my desk entitled Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters.

How could Hillary ever lose?

The methodology of Penn's piece seems to be: gather as many numbers as you can and don't worry about the fact that they are from many different sources at different times using different methodologies and even differing definitions of what it means to "be a blogger" — just toss them all together and start drawing conclusions. Those conclusions, in turn, seem to be based on a misapprehension that bloggers are by definition opinion writers. Many are, to be sure; but many others — particularly in the "pro blog" world Penn focuses on — concentrate on becoming expert sources in a particular area, or informational services, or link reviews.

So there you have it.

Link via Romenesko, where you can also learn that "Newspaper movies get made because good drama usually involves moral dilemmas — and when it comes to complicated choices, the daily work of a newspaper reporter is a perfect vehicle."

UPDATE: That "Fail" image above was created by Jason Lefkowitz, who would love it if Penn himself was aware of that fact.