Andrew and I spent a couple of hours today at a panel discussion on “Trends in Political Blogging” hosted by Edelman and the Institute for Politics, Democacy and the Internet. Here are some semi-coherent thoughts from the event:

(1) Three representatives from Wal-Mart Watch (probably GWU student volunteers) were passing out flyers at the event about the whole Wal-Mart/Edelman fake blog fiasco from a few months back. This doesn’t seem to be going away.

(2) The panel started out by summarizing some new blog stats from a survey performed by StrategyOne, the research arm of Edelman. The survey, entitled “Blog Readership in the USA,” was conducted in September (I can’t find a link). Here were the parts of the study I found interesting:

  • 27% of adult Americans read blogs once a week (that is 60,193,913 people for the math majors).
  • 34% of American Influentials* read blogs once a week.
  • 28% of Americans that read blogs have taken a public action as a result of something they read on a blog (16,854,295 people).
  • 49% of American Influentials have taken action due to something they read on a blog.
  • People who read blogs are more likely to be politically active (sign petitions, attend public meeting, write a politician, etc.).

*Influentials are losely defined (by me) as the 10% of society that drive trends.

These stats confirm what anyone reading this already knows innately – that blogs can lead people to take action and that the people reading and writing blogs tend to be more influential and publicly active than those that don’t. Still, it is good to have more ammunition.

(3) The panel itself was pretty much what you would expect from one of these things (lots of good anecdotes but nothing mind blowing). Some tidbits:

  • I enjoyed hearing Bill Allison from the Sunlight Foundation talk about the efforts of his organization to use the Internet to clean up government. They are doing good work.
  • Jacki Schechner from CNN’s Situation Room said that CNN listens to blogs and adjusts accordingly. She said CNN had changed programming after being heavily criticized by bloggers for seemingly only covering stories about “missing white women.” She also emphasized that blogs can make news without the Mainstream Media and that in some ways her job was simply to amplify and expand on stories already reported on in the blogosphere.
  • Robert Moran from StrategyOne mentioned that the rise of political blogs is good for conservative and liberal politicians but bad for moderate candidates in both parties, since swing voters are not really participating. He thinks blogs can potentially play a big role in a close Presidential primary that is largely decided by Party activists, as opposed to a general election decided a larger group of folks. A great point.

Anyway, the panel got my brainwaves moving a bit, which is all you can really expect from one of these things.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.