What do you know? It appears that the people who are most dedicated to reading blogs are very similar to the people who are most dedicated to reading newspapers and, now that you mention it, highly dedicated to reading -- period. Here's the lead, from a short piece in the Washington Post by reporters Zachary A. Goldfarb and Chris Cillizza (what a scintillating byline).
Think the people who while away their hours reading and commenting on political blogs are slovenly twenty-somethings with nothing better to do? Think again, said a survey last week by Blogads, a company that many leading political blogs have used for ad placements.
In an unscientific Web survey of 36,000 people, Blogads reported that political blog readers tend to be age 41 to 50, male (72 percent), and earn $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Two in five have college degrees, while just a tad less have graduate degrees.
"These are not people who are politically idealistic and born yesterday," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, who runs the popular liberal site DailyKos.
This survey, which was posted on 110 websites, leaned to the political left because several major conservatives sites elected not to take part. So what we have here, according to Blogads President Henry Copeland, is a look at "the choir" of online geeks who are most interested in arguing about politics. Goldfarb and Cillizza indicate that Republican blog readers "tend to be older, more often male, have higher incomes and less education," but only by a matter of small degrees. Dedicated blog readers tend to click their favorite URLs and read for about 10 hours a week.
You would be right if you predicted that I wish the survey had included at least one or two questions linked to religious beliefs and practices. Do bloggers go to church more than ordinary Americans?
I ask this for a reason. Ever since the late 1970s I have been watching for survey numbers that show that a high percentage of newspaper readers are also people who are active in their local communities. That makes sense, doesn't it? Well, it also seems that people who are highly involved in their local communities as activists and volunteers are more likely to be involved in religious organizations of various kinds than people who are not all that involved in civic life. (Of course, there are many folks who are not religious who make civic involvement a major part of their lives.)
Can these points be connected?
When I speak to newspaper editors, I urge them to think about that. If their religion coverage -- due to a basic lack of quality, quantity or accuracy -- is consistently offending readers, are they running off core, committed newspaper readers? As we go into the future with digital media, I hope that professionals at Blogads and elsewhere will probe that a bit and include some questions asking if readers in the blogosphere want to get religion.