Bloggers Key to the Future of Journalism?

A new survey from We Media and Zogby Interactive finds that a majority of Americans believe bloggers have an important role to play in the future of American journalism. According to the results, 55 percent of Americans believe bloggers are “important,” while 74 percent said citizen journalism will play a “vital role.” However, blogs were cited as important sources of news by only 30 percent of respondents.

“We are now seeing mainstream acceptance of what we call the Power of Us—the value, credibility, and vital expression of citizen and collaborative media,” said Dale Peskin, a managing director of iFOCOS, the organization that conducts the annual We Media conference. “We’ve arrived at a tipping point. A new definition of democratic media is emerging in our society.”

Some 72 percent of survey respondents indicated they were dissatisfied with the quality of American journalism today, while 76 percent agreed that the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism. Some 90 percent of respondents indicated trustworthiness is key to the future of the industry.

Survey respondents who identified themselves as conservative indicated a greater level of dissatisfaction with today’s news coverage: 88 percent said they were unhappy with journalism, while 95 percent of self-described “very conservative” respondents said the quality of journalism today is “not what it should be.” Amongst self-identified liberals, 51 percent indicated they were dissatisfied with today’s journalism. Dissatisfaction may also be keyed to respondents’ ages: 78 percent of respondents age 65 or older said they were dissatisfied.

Despite levels of displeasure, some 72 percent of respondents indicated they believed journalism was important to their communities. Respondents cited the Web (81 percent), television (73 percent), and newspapers (69 percent) as important sources of news. Amongst other sources of news, some 39 percent of respondents cited their friends and neighbors, 38 percent of respondents said magazines were important sources, and only 30 percent rated blogs as important.

The online survey polled 5.384 U.S. adults between January 30 and February 1, 2007, and Zogby claims the results carry a margin of error of ± 1.4 percentage points.

We Media also polled industry insiders at the We Media conference hosted by the School of Communication at the University of Miami; 86 percent of media insiders polled at the event said they believe bloggers will play an important role in journalism’s future, while 61 percent said they believed traditional journalism was out of touch with what Americans want from their news. A slim majority—55 percent&mdahs;actually indicated they were personally dissatisfied with American journalism today.

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