How powerful, or irrelevant, are political blogs?

An envious newspaper hack declared Cameron Slater and his blog “irrelevant” a few weeks ago.  At the time, I had a good chuckle at that. But as the recent events around the Man Ban unfolded, and given that the Seed of the Man Ban was planted right here, I believe “How powerful, or irrelevant, are political blogs” to be a very relevant question.

For a Blog to have influence, it needs readers.  But not just any readers.  It needs influential ones.  Those that shape ideas, those that shape policy, those that advise, those that report, and those that are the ultimate targets of any such influence: the politicians themselves. (Hi there!)

With the General Election next year, part of the information and influence machinery that will ultimately attempt to be involved in the process of how you will place your vote will be political bloggers.

It would be false modesty to understate how well Whale Oil Beef Hooked is doing right now.  In every metric you wish to apply, the blog is surging ahead.

But how does this compare to other New Zealand political blogs?  Is Whaleoil simply surging ahead on a general growth of interest in political blogs, or does it stand alone?  Is this a right vs left phenomenon, or are we experiencing a general increase in people using blogs as an information source?

Don’t mistake the race for being “the biggest” as a simple exercise in blog owner machismo – although in Slater’s case that’s a large part of it.  You see, more eyes equals more reach.  And the more those eyes read, the more power a blog enjoys.

June '13 pageviews - Open Parachute Blog Rankings

June 2013 pageviews* – Open Parachute Blog Rankings

But the graph above gives a snapshot of “market share” right now.  It doesn’t tell the story of how each blog’s market share has changed.  Doing so gives us a much clearer picture.

Jan 13 - Jun 13 Pageviews - Open Parachute Blog Rankings

Jan 2013 – Jun 2013 Pageviews* – Open Parachute Blog Rankings

It turns out that the phenomenal growth that Whaleoil enjoys isn’t reflected in the New Zealand political blogosphere.  Neither is it a “right” vs “left” issue.

As an interesting aside, the appearance of DailyBlog this year was the source of hope for many left leaning blog followers.  With The Standard having stagnated and to some degree eating its own, and Kiwiblog and Whaleoil presenting such a formidable opposition, the left correctly identified the need for a better, more effective blog.

DailyBlog launched into a 200k per month pageview profile with hopes to be at a cool million close to the election.  Selwyn Manning must be sobbing in his coffee now that it has become clear that having no less than 30 bloggers “on staff” on a fully funded blog with a full time salaried caretaker is showing no growth since it was launched.   Their last month was the worst yet.  Unless they find the On Switch and get to work delivering on their 1 million pageviews per month by the election, I wouldn’t be surprised if their funding will be turned off.

One thing is for sure:  If this blog keeps growing the way it is (thank you all, we can’t do it without you), it will continue to be as irrelevant as before influential.


* Please note that for this post we've used the Open Parachute blog 
ranking figures for comparison purposes.  We have discovered some 
time ago that our Google Analytics figures differ greatly, and have 
our monthly pageview performance at 3.5 million as of last month.

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