Blogging journalists - Bloglines subscription numbers compared to newspaper blogs

 by Martin Belam, 30 May 2007

In the last month an organisation called the Media Standards Trust launched a beta version of their web site, promising to:

"find ways to foster the highest standards of excellence in news journalism and ensure public trust in news is nurtured"

I think it is an interesting initiative, in an era when journalism faces greater and easier public scrutiny and fact-checking, and faces the ethical and commercial issues of how to deal with a growing mountain of digital content created by what traditionally has been a passive audience.

One feature of the site is, of course, the blog, and I spotted something I thought really useful on it. It has a blog roll featuring a list of 25 prominent and not-so prominent journalists who keep their own personal blogs about journalism.

It seemed a great list, and I wanted to do two things with it.

One was produce an OPML file of the RSS feeds of the blogs concerned to facilitate easier subscription for people, and secondly was to look on Bloglines at the subscriber numbers these blogs were attracting in comparison to the newspaper blog subscription figures that I was looking at last week.

Excluding the Buzzmachine blog (which alone had 2,615 subscribers), between the other 24 blogs there were just over 3,000 subscribers in Bloglines.

Mark Glaser's Mediashift, Rebecca MacKinon and Suw Charman & Kevin Anderson's "Strange Attractor" blog all had subscription numbers around the 500 mark upwards to 700.

Neil McIntosh and Robin Hamman's Cybersoc were both attracting around 150 subscribers in Bloglines, whilst Martin Stabe, Richard Sambrook and Juan Antonio Giner were all hovering around the 100 subscribers mark.

Of course, like my figures from last week, these have a caveat - they only represent public subscribers to each blog using the Bloglines online RSS reader. Bloglines is only a part of the feed-reading market, and you can't extrapolate overall usage from these figures.

However, it is comparing a like-with-like study to examine the figures for official newspaper blogs that I was looking at last week. Then I looked at the subscription figures for 107 blogs across 7 newspapers.

Based on the figures above, the majority of these journalist bloggers would effortlessly waltz into the top ten most popular blogs if they were being published by a newspaper.

That in part is because on the whole, media people love nothing more than reading about other media people talking about the media. I should know.

But it seems to me though to really illustrate one of the differences between the blogs being produced by British newspapers, and the blogs being produced in their spare time by journalists. It also backs up the point being made by Bobbie Johnson last week that not every journalist should blog.

Something that the journalist wants to write about seems naturally more compelling, and is easier to gain an audience for, than the output of journalists forced into blogging because of a corporate policy to produce blog-type content for a web property.

And that shows in the audience they are reaching.

OPML Journalist blogger RSS feeds


A very interesting analysis. Feedburner today suggests I have 391 RSS subscribers, including 90 using bloglines, so those numbers strike me as being correct.

Hmmm, I find that Feedburner credits me with nearly twice as many subscribers from Bloglines as Bloglines does itself. I suspect the lower number is the more accurate.

Interesting stuff

Feedburner puts me at 38 from bloglines. So I would say a pretty accurate cross section.

I think the fact that people like me register at all is through often lucky publicity - for me it was a mention in press gazette.

There is lots of great stuff out there that doesnt get the hits but is no less interesting or informative.

I'm pleasantly surprised by how well Strange Attractor does, but I can't take all the credit for it. My partner there is Kevin Anderson, who's a bit more of a proper journalist than me, and who's responsible for a good percentage of the content there, especially lately.

Thanks Suw, I've amended the table to mention Kevin as well.

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