The Hurricane and the Netroots

Undoubtedly, as a result of the hurricane, news consumption is up around the country. Also undoubtedly, news consumption is up when it comes to every major medium: television, periodicals, radio and the internet. I am not particularly interested in the numbers for other mediums, but I do know that the way the netroots has changed as a result of the hurricane offers further insight into the ever-changing nature of the blogosphere and the netroots.
Traffic
Almost every political news blog has experienced an increase in traffic over the past week. However, once again, the progressive blogosphere and netroots have experienced significantly larger traffic gains than their conservative rival. Looking at the one-hundred most trafficked blogs and netroots sites, as measured in August and today, the progressive advantage is obvious:
Page Views Per Week, Top 100 Partisan Blogs
	 Pro	      Con		Pro Edge
Aug    13,493,723     8,222,088       64.1%
Sep    18,149,949     8,881,619      104.4%
Gain	34.5%	      8.0%
(I left Democratic Underground out of this study and removed it from the August study, both because I am unable to find accurate information on their weekly page views and because Free Republic wasn't added to either, so its only fair).

Both in addition to and beyond factors I have already discussed, I believe that the continuing rise in the progressive blogosphere relative to the conservative blogosphere is primarily indicative of the relatively greater importance of the progressive blogosphere within progressive media as compared to the position of the conservative blogosphere in conservative media. When a big news story like Katrina breaks, everyone turns to the news, including the ideological news. However, conservatives already own a daunting media empire, within which their new blogosphere plays a fairly small role. Thus, generally speaking, conservatives are turning to other conservative sources of conservative news than the conservative blogosphere. By contrast, the blogosphere is playing a foundational role in the development of progressive media, and when progressives are turning to alternative sources of news, they are turning to the progressive blogosphere as much as they are turning anywhere else. It is in this way that the conservative media empire, developed before the explosion of the internet, is actually serving as a drag on the growth of the conservative blogosphere, despite the tremendous impact it is having upon more traditional media outlets. In the struggle for conservative market share, the conservative blogosphere is struggling.

Total Number of Blogs
I have long reported that one of the strengths of the conservative blogosphere was its local focus, as evidenced by the greater importance of smaller blogs within the conservative blogosphere. However, that advantage is showing clear signs of decline:

Total number of websites in top 100
       Pro    Con    Last Point of Equilibrium
Jul    44     56	       74
Aug    45     55	       82
Sep    51     49	      104
There has been a gradual increase in the total number of progressive sites in the top one-hundred most trafficked blogs and netroots websites. While conservative still hold an edge in the top 250, that edge is waning. In fact, for the first time, progressive sites now outnumber conservative sites in the top 100. The point where conservative blogs begin to push past progressive blogs in terms of total number has been consistently pushed back. In July, conservatives took the lead and never looked back at blog number 75. In August, they took the lead for good at 83, but now it is only at number 105 where conservatives take the lead for good. In the world of smaller blogs, liberals are gaining big time ground.

Rich Get Richer
In both blogospheres, most of the gain in total audience size has been primarily to the benefit of the top tier blogs. On the progressive side, Dailykos accounts for more than 40% of the total gain in audience size. The top six liberal blogs in both the August and September studies, Dailykos, Talking Points Memo, Raw Story, Eschaton, Crooks and Liars and Americablog, received 71.1% of the entire progressive traffic increase from August to September. These six blogs now make up 61.7% of progressive traffic in the top 100, up from 58.3% in September. Incidentally, all six of these blogs now have more traffic than Instapundit, which remains the highest trafficked conservative blog.

Things are even worse on the conservative side. Outside of the top seven conservative blogs, which experienced a nice 22.3% increase in traffic from August to September, conservative traffic in the top 100 actually decreased slightly. Aristocratic Right-Wing Blogosphere Stagnating indeed. Looks like it's time to start demonstrating more memos are forged fellas.

Action
While the progressive blogosphere is leaving the conservative blogosphere far, far behind in terms of audience size, the hurricane may have revealed the underlying activist potential of the conservative blogosphere. While the liberal blog fundraising drive for Katrina victims has yet to reach $200,000, the conservative blogosphere has put together more than $1.2M. Certainly, progressive blog readers have given a lot more than the $200K in the coordinated fundraising drive through direct contributions to the Red Cross and other sources not counted in the drive, while the conservative blog drive is based on self-declared donations to all sources, so the comparison may not be valid. Also, not all of the conservative blogs listed in the TTLB drive are conservative, like wonkette. Still, this may be a sign that the conservative blogosphere will experience a major breakthrough in 2006-2008, and finally become a force to be reckoned with in Republican politics. To date, they have not done much in this area, but that could change.

Update: Story edited to better reflect the differences between the two charity drives.

Tags: Blogosphere (all tags)

Comments

23 Comments

Liberal Blogs Fundraising
The liberal blog fundraising was a good idea but over the weekend there were times when I couldn't pull up the site, and for most of the weekend the link on Kos' site drove traffic to the RedCross website. There's something to be said for being able to track actual contributions, but the above problems as well as the fact that it went through PayPal made it cumbersome to track. A front page poster on redstate tried to gloat over the differences this morning and was slapped by their community.
by Kombiz Lavasany 2005-09-06 06:06PM | 0 recs
hmm
I think that's due to the conservatives having a better format for giving. That's pretty nifty, and not that difficult either. Something BlogPac could easily pull off, and should be doing.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-09-06 06:15PM | 0 recs
Re: hmm
TTLB is also not totally conservative in their blog list either. Wonkette is in there, lots of others as well. So I wouldn't call this a conservative vs liberal breakdown.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-09-06 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: hmm
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is another on their list that is not only not-conservative, but is liberal.
by Fran for Dean 2005-09-06 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: hmm
skippy the bush kangaroo is not only liberal, he's funny!
by skippy 2005-09-07 09:03PM | 0 recs
conservative blogs Katrina fundraising
Another factor to take into account for why the conservatives may be beating us in fundraising is the way they are tracking donations.  Like you said, many of us have made donations that were not through the system being used to track Liberal Blogosphere contributions (myself included, since I made mine before the organized effort started).  The system the conservatives are using to track donations, however, is much more flexible.  If you go to the site you linked to, you can just enter the amount of money that you donated, and also to which charity you donated.  On our side, you need to donate through a particular link using PayPal, and it can only go to the Red Cross.  Ours is clearly much more restrictive in what donations can be tracked.  Still, their advantage is significant, and these differences in tracking methods probably do not make up for all of the $1 million difference.
by Fran for Dean 2005-09-06 06:18PM | 0 recs
Netroots activism / local blogs
Chris,

I don't know how feasible a study like this would be, but since it's very similar to the stuff you've been doing, maybe you can incorporate it into your next netroots roundup.

It's often mentioned that a lot of the actual activism that gets done on blogs are through the small, local blogs, and that in this regard, the conservatives have a clear advantage over us.  Do you think you could start keeping track of blogs based on whether they are local or not, rather than just their size?  From the research you've done, it's clear that progressives are kicking ass at the large and medium-sized blogs, but these are all national blogs.  There's little indication about what's going on with blogs that are specifically local in content.

by Fran for Dean 2005-09-06 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Netroots activism / local blogs
I think the problem is reverse. I think there's a lot of local movements working everywhere, but while they read blogs and do bloggy things and run mail lists what they don't ever combine their activism locally with blogs. I'm not sure how effective Conservatives are locally via blogs, though there's definitely a higher rate of link backs from the bigger blogs to local issues. How effective is this besides driving the outrage narrative? Chris might know.
by Kombiz Lavasany 2005-09-06 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Netroots activism / local blogs
It's often mentioned that a lot of the actual activism that gets done on blogs are through the small, local blogs, and that in this regard, the conservatives have a clear advantage over us.

Not for long.

by Alice Marshall 2005-09-06 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Netroots activism / local blogs
I think Philly's netroots & bloggers have been meshing pretty well in the 1+ years I've been down here; I became a blogger and I'm now more involved in the community in general because of the people and groups I've come in contact through Philly's blog network.  I've been plugged into local activism almost solely through the blogs, and a ton specifically through Chris here at MyDD.

Philly's DFA [Philly for Change] group is very strong and the monthly meetups are always 30+ people.  Philly's Drinking Liberally group meets every Tuesday and 25+ people are always there, rain or shine.  Progressive leaders of the community are regulars and members of both of those groups.

I think that Chris is more than capable of reporting on the Philadelphia phenomenon as he is here, in person, and can see first hand what's going on, but to go through the various local rings is quite a task.  Maybe focus on a few of the larger groups like in NC, TX, NY and PA?

by Albert 2005-09-08 08:37AM | 0 recs
Careful with the traffic numbers
At least for me, Sitemeter is broken. It only tracks up to 64K visits or pageviews an hour. After that, it resets to zero and starts over. So Daily Kos traffic is being undercounted to the tune of about 300-500K daily visits. It's obscene, how much traffic it's getting.

I talked to the folks at Sitemeter, and they've got an upgrade in the works that will fix the problem, but it's about 2-3 weeks away. So until then, my traffic, and perhaps that of some of the other top bloggers (especially at peak hours) is being undercounted.

by kos 2005-09-06 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Careful with the traffic numbers
"It only tracks up to 64K visits or pageviews an hour."

Yeah, I think that might only be a problem you are facing kos. It seems to be costing you 320,000 page views per day, or at least a million and a half per week. Yikes. At this rate, you will pass the conservative blogosphere all by yourself.

by Chris Bowers 2005-09-06 09:46PM | 0 recs
Does this include Free Republic or DU?
by jasmine 2005-09-06 08:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Does this include Free Republic or DU?
(I left Democratic Underground out of this study and removed it from the August study, both because I am unable to find accurate information on their weekly page views and because Free Republic wasn't added to either, so its only fair).
by Kombiz Lavasany 2005-09-06 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Does this include Free Republic or DU?
How reliable is alexa ratings.  It seems freerepublic has bigger viewership than dailykos?

http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details?&range=6m&size=medium&y=r&url=http ://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/browse#top

by jasmine 2005-09-16 11:27AM | 0 recs
Where is that liberal tv network?
Since liberals in general are highly educated, interested in politics and often rich I'm surprised that there is no liberal FOX News yet.

Does anyone know if there are any plans on this?

by Populism2008 2005-09-07 01:57AM | 0 recs
I don't watch TV News that much.
I get 90% of my news online. I don't trust the MSM.
by joeesha 2005-09-07 04:26AM | 0 recs
We should not be competing
The right wingers voted in this government (maybe). At any rate, they're happy with it. Since this government works for them (and precious few others) let them pay for whatever they want, including Katrina, and let's just keep our mouths shut and enjoy the ride.

I think it is only right, fair and just that those who gave us this miserable government and who continue to support it, pick up the slack now that the government we told them is incompetent finally proves it in our own frontyard.

I personally will not give a dime until the troops come home and the military budget is reduced by at least %50. Until then, no one needs any contributions from my measly income.

by sciale 2005-09-07 07:06PM | 0 recs
And the rest of us?
I'm having trouble figuring out what this all means for those of us populating "the long tail," as opposed to the top 100, top 500, etc.

Any ideas?

by TerranceDC 2005-09-07 07:25PM | 0 recs
the rest of us
This is all well and good, but it would help if those getting the vast majority of progressive blog traffic did a little to promote the rest of the progressive blogosphere, most of which is usually left out in the cold, even when it makes excellent points before other, bigger blogs do.
by realitique 2005-09-07 09:36PM | 0 recs
The nice thing about
Scoop sites (like this one) is that anybody can come by and share their points with the world, at a central place where people come for that very purpose. (And you can promote your own blog at the same time.)
by catastrophile 2005-09-07 11:55PM | 0 recs
I don't know...
Given that the "Con" side is not only divided against itself, but sees all forms of truth manipulation as a higher calling...  I don't put too much faith into their number, especially with how many small, parallel, personal efforts are underway (cheers and such for Anntichrist S. Coulter at Blondesense! ^^)
by stealthbadger 2005-09-08 11:36AM | 0 recs
Just an FYI
We really don't know how many visits dKos is getting right now.  I noticed that sitemeters numbers were out of whack and sent an email to the technicians.  They responded saying that sitemeter can only handle 64,000 hits an hour, after that it resets to 0.  
by sgilman 2005-09-08 04:03PM | 0 recs

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