News is dead, Blogs are where it’s at … really?


“Everyone is reading blogs.”

“In the future, people will get their news from blogs!”

Blogs, blogs, blogs, blogs! Just saying it  makes me feel empowered and tapped into the new media world.

You’d be forgiven if you thought people were completely abandoning traditional news providers and moving towards blogs as a source of news. If you believe it, todays news providers are becoming irrelevant and fast.

Why? Because people who have a vested interest in selling you their services are telling you that the world is changing. And who better to navigate you through the choppy waters of the new media world … them!

Anyway – cynicism aside … I am a big advocate of blogs. I read them. Hell, I write one. I understand their power and importance.

But at the same time I am aware of the wider mix.

One stat I’ve seen lately is x% of people in Australia are accessing blogs. I saw a figure recently that said there are 2m blogs in Australia. Is this true? I doubt it … problem is it’s a tough claim to quantify.

So … the two main blog aggregators in AU are Blogger and WordPress. These are the two overwhelmingly dominant blogging platforms.

Lets look at the usage habits around these two providers.

Blogger has 1.8m users. The average user visits a Blogger blog 3 times a month. Each month, they spend around 9 minutes total reading a Blogger blog. On average they read 13 pages per month.

WordPress has 726k users. The average user visits a Wordpress blog 2 times a month. Each month, they spend around 5 minutes total reading a Wordpress blogs. On average they read 8 pages over the month.

The unduplicated audience across the two is about 2m.

Sure, I am aware there’s other ‘blogs’ out there not on these 2 platforms. Allure Media’s Gizmodo, Lifehacker and Defamer; and Crikey’s Blogs are well known examples … but these are (in my humble opinion) professional operations with professional writers hence they’re not really blogs at all … they are publications and really not that different to traditional publishing companies (just leaner and often meaner – well Crikey anyway)

If you look at the News and Current Affairs section on Nielsen Netview it gives you the following data across the category.

The average user visits a News and Current Affairs site (ie SMH, The Age, BBC, ninemsn News, news.com.au) 9 times a month. Each month, they spend around 56 minutes total across these sites viewing 62 pages each. There are 5.73m of these people –  up 100,000 from 12 months ago.

Across Blogger/Wordpress page views are around 28 million from 2m people, across News and Current Affairs it’s 355 million from 5.7m people.

Blogs are taking over traditional news sources. Hardly. People are still turning to news providers and they are turning to them often. Look at the numbers. Speak to editorial staff at ninemsn, FD and News.com.au and they’ll tell you their key numbers are increasing.

The only thing that will change this is if the news providers start believing the bullshit and changing their products to appease the minority. Stick to your knitting guys – the two areas can co-exist. The weird thing is the biggest danger to the news providers is themselves as they seem a little bit lost.

Blogs play a really important role – they offer in depth, independent analysis (or should) and passionate, expert opinion. They appeal to a certain audience. We talk about more engaged audiences on blogs but so far when you look at the data it doesn’t seem to be the case yet.

But lets not let the truth get in the way of a good salespitch eh …

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5 responses to “News is dead, Blogs are where it’s at … really?

  1. It seems to me that there are perhaps three main rationales for creating a blog (as opposed to creatign a news site that happens to use blogging software):

    1. So you can discuss your passion, whether personal or professional.

    2. So that the brand you own/ represent can find a new (not replacement) channel to connect with consumers.

    3. To position yourself as an expert and enhance your own reputation. (This does of course also require the creation of the content to achieve that…)

    But the people who think that blogs will replace news are about as deluded as the (sometimes same) ones who think that Twitter will one day be everyone’s main news source.

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  2. talkingdigital

    hey tim – would you consider mumbrella a ‘blog’? Or is Mumbrella more a ‘brand’ and Dr Mumbo is more of a blog. Or neither. Personally I find the term blog so broad.

  3. That’s harder to answer than you might think, Ben.

    We sit on a WordPress platform, which is of course classic blogging software.

    But we have three streams, of which only two are bloglike. Our opinion stream and our Dr Mumbo diary stream are classic blog fodder, but the news section is straight reporting – indeed it feeds into Google News and I avoid putting my own views in news stories, except by following up in the comment stream.

    So we sit somewhere between the two, but for now, while effectively I’m a one man band, I guess it is closer to a blog than to a traditional newspaper or magazine website.

    My suspicion is that when Mumbrella grows and I can afford to put somebody else onto the editorial team, we will become less bloglike, and certainly Mumbrella will become less my voice and far more a brand voice in its own right.

    Or that’s the plan, anyway…

    Cheers,

    Tim – Mumbrella

  4. Ben,

    I think the wider trend is towards opinion over news. This drift is what’s being tapped into when people talk so headily about ‘blogs’.

    News is becoming a commodity. Look at all the major sites and 90% of the content comes from the same wires feeds and is short news updates.

    People are getting news in many different ways nowadays. Opinion is becoming the place for growth, in my view.

    Consider the US for examples of growth in opinion. Techcrunch, PaidContent, Huffington Post. All new entrants into crowded markets but now with valuations in double to triple figure millions. These guys grew so rapidly because of their focus on opinion, not news.

    Here in Australia, the same trend continues.

    Sites like ours (http://www.theroar.com.au / http://www.lostateminor.com), Allure, Crikey etc have seen strong growth on the back of opinion as opposed to news.

    So when I hear blog, I think opinion. And there is a big trend towards this.

  5. talkingdigital

    Good comments zac and i tend to agree … opinion (well thought, reasoned, interesting) is shaping up to be the key differentiator for both consumers and advertisers. We don’t need 10 groups running the same feeds … 1 group can do that and do it well and probably will as the industry consolidates.

    Print newspapers generally live and die by their overriding tone and approach … same thing hasn’t translated into digital yet. The Fairfax and news print products are very different … not so much digital.

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