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Why audiences read journalist blogs

Blogs have become part of the furniture of online news sites, with many journalists enthusiastically taking up blogging as part of their daily routine.

The CMRC study on news habits and social media just released shows that a minority of Canadians, 21 per cent, say they read or follow particular journalists online, through blogs or  social networks. But the figure doubles to 43 per cent for students.

As part of the research team, I wanted to find out whether journalistsʼ perceptions of the value of blogging matched those of news consumers.

Blogging is a form of social media that provides the news media with an easy to use publishing platform. Blogs specifically, and social media in general, offer a way to write about the news in a more conversational, informal and personal manner.

Journalists tend to use blogs to offer information that does not fit into a standard news report, as well as to provide some commentary and analysis on issues.

What we found that the main reasons people turned to journalist blogs was to get additional information about a story (61 per cent) or because they enjoyed reading the posts (59 per cent).

Just over half, 51 per cent, said blog posts helped them get a better understanding of the story, and 45 per cent said they were interested in the behind-the-scene details of a story.

But I was surprised to see that audiences were less enthusiastic about the ability to connect and engage with journalists via their blogs. Only a third said they follow journalists online to learn more about them or to share their views on a story.

The results suggest that most readers do not particularly value the social aspect of journalist blogs.

However, the figures tell a different story for young Canadians, particularly students.

Two-thirds of students said they follow journalists online to learn more about them. A similar number appreciated the ability to leave comments and feedback.

Our findings suggest that younger readers, especially those in college, see the appeal in the more personal, open and interactive form of journalism offered by blogs.

The Canadian Media Research Consortium report is based on an online survey of a representative national sample of 1,682 adults conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results were statistically weighted according to the most current Statistics Canada data on age, gender, region, and education to ensure a representative sample.

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