Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Maryland Blogosphere: Up, Up and Away

The 35 Maryland state and local blogs that release their site statistics set a combined record visit count in March. Then they set another record in April.

We track site visit statistics for 35 Maryland blogs that focus on state and local issues. Five of them are liberal blogs, 16 are conservative blogs and 14 profile local areas without emphasizing political ideology. The most-visited blogs in our data set are usually Maryland Politics Watch, Annapolis Capital Punishment, Inside Charm City, Just Up the Pike, Rockville Central, Red Maryland, Baltimore Reporter and PG Politics. Some of the most prominent blogs that do not release site statistics include O’Malley Watch, Legum’s New Line, Salisbury News and the Silver Spring Penguin.

Our data series starts in June 2007. In that month, these blogs (some of which were not yet active) recorded a combined 63,847 visits. The combined count increased to a peak of 108,477 visits in February 2008 and then fell below 100,000 for seven months. Since then, the combined count has exceeded 100,000 visits in six of the last seven months. March’s record of 112,027 visits was broken by April’s record of 129,286. Thirteen of the 35 blogs had their record month in either March or April of 2009.

The general trend of Maryland blog site visits is up – WAY up. But that does not apply equally to all blogs.

1. Local blogs that do not focus on political ideology now account for almost half of all Maryland site visits. Their combined visit count has leaped from 34,649 in December 2008 to 64,240 in April 2009. The leaders in 2009 site visits through April are Inside Charm City (80,984), Just Up the Pike (30,701), Rockville Central (27,697), Tales of Two Cities (19,547) and Oceanshaman (14,396).

2. Maryland Politics Watch has been the most-visited political blog in the state for six months in a row. Among political blogs, the leaders in 2009 site visits through April are MPW (59,290), Red Maryland (39,497), PG Politics (22,355), Baltimore Reporter (21,342) and Annapolis Capital Punishment (21,279).

3. The conservative blogosphere has stopped growing. Conservative blogs accounted for 49% of all site visits in October and November 2007. In April 2009, they accounted for just 29% of all visits – the lowest percentage they have ever had in our records. Their April 2009 visit count of 37,918 is 16% lower than their peak month of October 2008. Red Maryland’s April count of 8,535 visits is its lowest total since October 2007, its fourth month of existence. And of the 16 conservative blogs in our dataset, eight of them received less than 1,000 site visits in April – meaning that they have virtually no audience.

4. Inside Charm City has become perhaps the premier news aggregator in Baltimore. It rarely runs any original content and primarily reprints or links to mainstream media (MSM) articles. But posts like this are extremely popular. (Just click on it and you’ll see why!) Inside Charm City has been the most visited blog in the state in three out of the last four months.

Political blogs of both the right and left normally experience a lull in the summer as the state, county and federal governments go into recess. But many local blogs will hold their audience and the political blogs will pick up again in the fall. What will these numbers look like in the 2010 election year?