Blog coverage

by Eszter Hargittai on March 29, 2004

For the data geeks in the audience, here’s an updated version of the graph I created last year (see disclaimers there) tracking the coverage of the word “weblog” and “blog” in 47 US and international (English-language) dailies. Of course, this doesn’t mean too much except that the term and the artifact of blogging is diffusing in mainstream media coverage (notice the change in the ratio of the two words). It is unclear, for example, how often journalists in such newspapers acknowledge blogs as sources of information when they get a story or an idea from them. That would be something interesting to look at, but would require much more work than running some queries on Lexis-Nexis and may also involve collecting some qualitative data. Since this is not part of my research, I’m going to leave detailed investigations to others.



nnyhav 03.29.04 at 10:19 pm

Dunno if this is the earliest cite (online OED may tell ya, sense 2, per a.f.u.; my access is unattainably devoid), but your “1995-1997” (0,0) may be superfluous.


belaborer 03.29.04 at 10:26 pm

I have grad student-type friends, and almost none of them read blogs. A few have faintly heard of the concept.

But I believe that a year from now, all will have heard the term, and many will read blogs occasionally. It’s definitely coming.

But five years further out, who can predict? The medium might change completely.


eszter 03.29.04 at 10:26 pm

I think it’s worth noting when it was still 0/0, but I have no idea why I picked 1995 as the first year to check when I started all this last year. That does seem a bit arbitrary. It should either start at 1993 (Web history) or just say 1997. I’ll try to remember next year when I update this.. if I ever do.


eszter 03.29.04 at 10:40 pm

Belaborer – I think a very small percentage of the general Internet user population even knows what blogs are never mind actually reads them. It would be interesting to see survey data on this, but I know of none. I’m about to put a survey in the field and I wish I had more resources to explore this question a bit, but as I said, this isn’t the focus of my research and so it’s hard to find room for it.


Anna 03.30.04 at 2:40 am

In the “The Times, they will have a’changed” dept, this recent WaPo article on kids on the web (Generation WWW: Kids Create Web Sites – ) goes on and on about the subject without covering weblogs at all – except for one “and he has a blog” – no explanation or definition – near the end. I can’t decide if it’s evidence for ubiquity (of course all readers will know what “blog” means!) or blindness…


jkottke 03.30.04 at 4:01 pm

You should add “web log” to your next analysis. Somewhere along the line, major media outlets decided to start misusing “web log” (instead of the proper “weblog”) as the origin of “blog”, resulting in the usage of “web log” in many stories where “weblog” would be more correct.


dog 2 03.31.04 at 12:36 am

I just did a quick search on Westlaw’s News data bank. 3698 news documents reference either weblogs or blogs. In the last three days, alone, weblogs or blogs were referenced by — among others — the Los Angleles Times, the Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, the Seattle Post, USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, the Charlotte Observer, Newsday, and the Austin American Statesman.

The earliest reference I found was in the January 1, 2001, Orange County Register. (Is it widely known that Orange County is populated by conservative Republicans?) It was listed as the first of “this year’s buzzwords.” “Blog — Short for ‘Weblog,” a software program that allows people to post entries in online journals about whatever strikes their fancy. Sort of like reading your sister’s diary. Only horrifyingly boring.” Much like Orange County!

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