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Matt Drudge’s gossip site, introduced in the mid-1990s, is another example of an early blog. It set the tone for many politically oriented blogs by mixing opinion and commentary with links to stories published on newspaper and TV news Web sites.

Today, popular bloggers include Ana Marie Cox, an Arlington writer whose blog skewers inside-the-Beltway politics, and journalist Andrew Sullivan, who dishes up commentary on the news of the day.

In addition to Mr. Matthews of MSNBC, other journalists from mainstream news organizations have joined renegades such as Ms. Cox and Mr. Sullivan in the blogosphere.

The Democratic convention included self-published bloggers such as Ms. Cox, as well as reporters from established news organizations, including ABC News, CNN, Minnesota Public Radio, the Miami Herald, the Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Washington Times.

Consumers are unlikely to abandon established newspapers, magazines and TV news programs for bloggers as long as the mainstream press delivers “quality journalism,” according to Charlene Li, a principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., group that tracks technology trends.

“People want quality journalism, and that tends to exist in traditional institutions. That isn’t to say bloggers don’t do quality journalism, because some of them do,” she said.

Bloggers have given traditional journalists a run for their money.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, made comments that some people deemed racist in late 2002, but the remarks received little attention in the mainstream press until bloggers began writing about it. Mr. Lott eventually resigned his leadership post in the Senate.

In May, Ms. Cox linked to an online diary kept by Jessica Cutler, a Capitol Hill staffer who — under the name “Washingtonienne” — said she had had affairs with several lawmakers, whom she did not name.

Miss Cutler soon became a darling of gossip pages in the D.C. area and New York and generated further publicity for Ms. Cox’s Wonkette blog.

An appetizer, not a meal

Research on the number of people who read blogs is scarce, although the people who read them are probably those who treat them as a supplemental part of a news media diet.

One of the Web’s most popular bloggers, Markos Moulitsas, author of the 2-year-old, said he received about 150,000 visitors a day before the convention. That figure climbed to 200,000 during his week in Boston, and has even increased a little since, he said.

By comparison, reports receiving about 23 million visitors during an average month, or roughly 800,000 daily visitors.

None of the bloggers who covered the Democratic convention broke any hard news, but neither did the seasoned reporters from the traditional press, who complained that the conventions have become too scripted and stage-managed.

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