Mark Penn: WSJ's New Expert on Blogging
I hardly know what to make of this oddball collection of supposed facts about the lucrative world of blogging that appeared in the Wall Street Journal and was linked to in Huffington Post. According to Penn, at least 1% of all American adults earns some income from blogging, and more people earn their primary income from blogging than firefighting.
Just for kick I checked a few of his sources.
According to Penn, "we are a nation of over 20 million bloggers," but if you want to find out how somebody came to that conclusion, you have to first pay $695. I have yet to earn a penny from blogging so I didn't download the report. You, however, are free to do so by checking out eMarketer's expensive report, "The Blogosphere: A Movement from the Grassroots."
Another trade organization, Blogworld Expo, "The First and Only Industry-wide Conference for all New Media!" is the source of numerous other uncited factoids. For instance, 1.7 million Americans report profit as a major reason for their blogging. In his words: "And that's early half a million of whom it can be said, as Bob Dylan did of Hurricane Carter: 'It's my work he'd say, I do it for pay.'"
Since bloggers only share opinion and are not journalists, Penn concludes that if blogs replace newspapers, then Americans will have access to nothing but opinions. Plus, there are no standards for bloggers. (Penn does not offer us a definition of bloggers, but as Sawgrass727 pointed out elsewhere, he seems to have included individuals who post reviews of brands into the category, as does Technorati, another of his apparent sources of information.)
This could make us the most noisily opinionated nation on earth. The Information Age has spawned many new professions, but blogging could well be the one with the most profound effect on our culture. If journalists were the Fourth Estate, bloggers are becoming the Fifth Estate.
Finally, he waxes poetically about the fact that bloggers have no unions, retirement benefits, etc., and wonders about our long term impact on the American workforce.
I don't know what to think. I guess I'll pay $20,000 to subscribe to an e-newsletter for K-Street lobbyists for some ideas.