Saturday, March 12, 2005

Rosie O’Donnell calls hers Once Adored, showcasing “the unedited rantings of a fat 42-year-old menopausal ex-talk show host.” Jossip is “insider media gossip, ravaging political inquiry and a hint of celeb worship.”

Then there’s the Drudge Report — plus Power Line, Lucianne, Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, Wonkette and Gawker — blogs all. But a new Gallup poll finds that most Americans are clueless about blogs, bloggers and blogging.

For the blog-challenged, “blog” is short for Web log. In recent years, hundreds of scribes — from Barbra Streisand to U.S. troops under fire in Iraq — have gone online to share their politics, suspicions, reactions, rumors, theories, bad jokes and, yes, blockbuster news.

The public may not be blog-ready, though.

Blogs are “not yet in the media big leagues,” Gallup announced Friday. The poll found that while 76 percent of Americans regularly use the Internet, only 7 percent said they were “very familiar” with blogs. The poll of 1,008 adults was conducted Feb. 25-27.

“I don’t place too heavy an emphasis on what Gallup may reveal. Percentages are pretty bland figures to me,” said Manhattan-based David Hauslaib, the man behind Jossip.

“It’s not so surprising that mainstream America doesn’t know what a blog is. But they might come upon a blog and not even realize it’s a blog. So they could still be influenced by it nevertheless. It works that way, too,” he said.

The poll also found that only 3 percent of Americans consult blogs on a daily basis. The figure was pared down to 2 percent for political-themed blogs, which tend to resonate most in the mainstream press. CNN, for example, now hosts a daily “blog watch,” highlighting piquant fare from a number of sites.

The Gallup numbers don’t faze Paul Mirengoff, a District-based lawyer who writes for Power Line — the blog that debunked CBS newsman Dan Rather’s claims he had documents proving President Bush compromised his Vietnam-era military service.

“It shows how much room for growth political blogs have,” Mr. Mirengoff noted Friday.

The term “blog” is young, coined by pundit and blogger Andrew Sullivan, who called the phenomenon “democratic journalism” in a 2002 Wired magazine article. The population is burgeoning, though: about 500 bloggers amassed for a “Politics Online” conference this weekend at George Washington University.

Though two bloggers have been granted White House press credentials, media analysts continue to wonder whether bloggers should be considered true journalists, subject to the same standards of credibility and accuracy.

Still, they may not be registering on the public’s radar.

“Whether they are seeking immortality or just letting off steam, Web loggers are multiplying in number,” noted Gallup’s Lydia Saad.

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