Are you reading THIS or the Western Mail?

Blogs are as popular as regional newspaper websites as online sources of local news.

That's the somewhat surprising finding of Ofcom in their latest research into the future of news, which has not yet been published in full.

Here in Wales, the massed ranks of politicians who have been so sceptical about blogs might wish to review their position. Something of a blog revolution has occurred in recent months - you need only move your eyes slightly to the left and examine the links in my sidebar as testament to that.

When I last counted in December, 12 AMs kept a blog. Now it's around 15. But the real blossoming has occurred among Assembly candidates and other interested observers.

They've realised, I presume, that a great number of people are completely turned-off politics the way it is presented through the traditional media. Statistically, those people are most likely to be 16-24. And by no coincidence, that same group are also the most avid consumers of news through the internet: over one in three young people now use the web as their prime source of news.

Significantly, these findings only show what percentage of people use blogs as a source of news. But blogs are about much more than that (when they're written properly) and it's reasonable to infer, therefore, that the actual number of readers is much greater.

Of course, blogs are no threat to the Western Mail's rather polished website (though the search function is useless). But politicians and editors alike would be wise not to underestimate their potential for getting at an audience unreached by the traditional media.

After all, if you search for 'Welsh Assembly Election 2007' in Google, you don't get the local paper, neither do you get the government's website or any of the party spin. What you get is Wikipedia, followed by this blog.

[I have the flu so posting may be light over the next couple of days.]

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posted by Blamerbell @ 12:20 pm,


At 1:10 pm, Blogger bethan said...

but arguably, many people in Wales still do not have regular access to the internet- and there is a significant class difference in those that do have regular access.

A large percentage of people still rely on their local press for their news, therefore. A Western Mail article today highlights this issue- 53% of adults still do not access the internet.

At 2:24 pm, Anonymous daran said...

And often very localised press too, rather than the Western Mail. However, I still agree with the analysis that this is very probably the first "virtual" election campaign. Things are moving at a hell of a pace, and eventually politicians catch up ;) Back in 1997 the only Yes for Wales members with email addresses were academics, and we were really proud of a one-page internet site that was no more than logo and email address, with a few niceties on the side. All of which is quite incredible with the hindsight of a decade. Now, campaigning without email or internet is a bizarre concept. It's so much easier to reach out using a whole variety of means, and thank goodness for that! I know this is all a rather obvious argument, but I remind myself of it occasionally when I think back at how far we've come and how quickly.

At 2:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool head. I would argue that a large percentage of those who read political blogs are peolpe involved in politics/boffins who have already made up their minds as to which way to vote... the floating voter, who cares very little about politics in general, cares even less about the political outpourings on yours or a fairly unrecognisealble politician's blog. Their vote will be influenced via the usual means, I would have thought.

That's not to say that blogging doesn't have an influence, of course. The Western Mail and the Beeb seem to think that reading blogs is what 'research' is all about these days...

At 3:05 pm, Blogger ianjamesjohnson said...

Not necessarily just a class divide, but a skills divide - those who have access to a computer/the internet and are able to use it to anything like its potential.

Like cable and satellite tv, the internet has led to a fracturing of the audience into ever-smaller niche groups and communities.

Local newspapers might be a bit of a dinosaur in many ways, but they can still be the best source of information for what happens down the road!

At 5:55 pm, Blogger Rhys Wynne said...

That google search highlights how badly the parties websites are ranking wise. In that particular search (granted not very scientific), here's how they appear in the top 50:

9. BNP (!)
23. Lib Dem AM
25. Lib Dem candidate blog
34+35. Plaid Cymru candidate blog
36. Welsh Tories blog
43. Tory AM blog


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