The spin being given to a new report by Pew and marketing firm BuzzMetrics entitled, €œBuzz, Blogs and Beyond: The Internet and the National Discourse in the Fall of 2004" is that blogs have not displaced traditional media in terms of influence. (That's the clear expectation based on all the hype blogs have received.)
So blogs aren't such a big deal after all — right?
Not so fast. That facile conclusion ignores the fact that blogs have been around as a "mainstream" phenomenon for less than two years. In addition, the report looked only at the coverage of a single issue, "Rathergate," and the relationship between blogs and mainstream media treatment of that scandal.
Blogs will never "replace" traditional media — the more blogs there are the more brand/credibility matters, which favors traditional media — but they may dilute or fragment the audience, which has implications for mainstream media.
In some cases, blogs will also have a profound impact on consumer perceptions (e.g., Star Wars "buzz" in the blogosphere) and thus the bottom line, or on the coverage of a particular news story (Reuters cites a University of Connecticut poll that purports to show eight in 10 journalists read blogs).
And like the complicated relationship between online and traditional advertising, blogs complicate the media landscape, which does appear to be one of the findings of the Pew/BuzzMetrics report.