Wednesday, May 02, 2007

British Blogging Power (Part 2)

In part 1 we introduced a sensible measure for calculating the power of blogs, namely CI (measured in minutes/day) "capacity to influence". At the end of the analysis I made a bit of a howler by dividing the CI's of the American blogs by 3 instead of 5. In actual fact, the British blogs have CI ratings that are relatively higher than their American counterparts.

One blog, EUReferendum, has a CI rating of 6489CI. Adjusting this for the American population and using the average time per visit of Daily Kos would give that site over 970,000 hits per day!

So, if British blogs actually outperform the American ones on the basis of their capacity to influence, why do American blogs have, in reality, more influence? The answer lies in understanding the actual influence the blogosphere has.

Using the CI rating we see that even the top blogs would have a CI rating of no more than around 7,000CI. Compare this to the CI rating of a national newspaper in Britain and it becomes apparent that blogs are powerless. Take the Daily Telegraph, for example. They sold 2,219,000 papers between April and September 2006. This works out at 12,060 a day. Assuming that each person who buys a paper reads it for 10 minutes this gives a CI rating of 120,600CI. Astronomically huge compared to any blog. Clearly, the power of blogs does not come from being widely read.

The power of blogs comes from influencing the right people; the MSM journalists. There have been many stories on the blogosphere some which make an impact in the real world and some which don't. Let's take two examples from last Summer's Israel-Hezbollah war (thanks to Natalie Solent for reminding me of this). During that war it emerged that Adnan Hajj was faking photos for Reuters, he was subsequently sacked and his pictures removed. At about the same time "Green Helmet Guy" was all over the blogosphere apparently manipulating the media, especially at Qana. The latter case had no apparent real life consequences.

What was the difference between the two? The MSM. A Google news archive search for "adnan hajj" returns 681 hits. "green helmet guy" returns 14. Taking another example of a successful blogosphere story; Rathergate. That term returns 733 hits on the archive. While not an exhaustive study, it would seem to indicate that the blogosphere stories have an impact only when picked up by the MSM. And this is the key difference between America and Britain.

In America, the MSM journalists often seem to quote the blogs and many bloggers make regular appearances on current affairs programmes. Again using a Google news archive search we find that "Daily Kos" returns 2,800 hits while "EUReferendum" returns only 156. (I am very much open to hearing new evidence if you have any).

The final question, for part three, is why do MSM journalists use the blogosphere? Stay tuned.