Thursday, July 09, 2009

Winners and Losers in the Maryland Blogosphere

From our dataset on 38 statistics-releasing Maryland blogs, here are three that are on the way up as well as a category of them that is stalled.

Headed Up

Inside Charm City

Inside Charm City is the leading news aggregator in the Baltimore area. Its traffic swings wildly with current events, getting enormous spikes from posts about Michael Phelps and Miss California, Steve McNair and local fireworks schedules. The blog has caught on as a central location for Baltimore MSM links, leading the state in visits in five of the last six months. Its great weakness is that it has virtually no original content. Still, Inside Charm City’s success demonstrates that Baltimore is hungry for blogs, and if an independent, original political blog ever set up shop there, its site traffic would explode.

Rockville Central

Brad Rourke and Cindy Cotte Griffiths have created a true online gathering place for the City of Rockville. Their site carries a mix of news, editorials, announcements and pictures that many residents have adopted as an indispensable resource. Local politicians are particularly watchful as many have submitted guest posts and city elections are approaching. Rockville Central has been the second-most visited local blog in the state after Inside Charm City over the last two months.

Annapolis Capital Punishment

Not so long ago, Paul Foer was known as “PMF” on the liberal blog Free State Politics, where he was a frequent target of Red Maryland’s conservatives. Well, Foer is getting the last laugh. His Annapolis Capital Punishment blog, which follows Annapolis city politics in minute detail, beat the statewide Red Maryland in site visits for the first time in May. Foer’s numbers should stay strong as he has a mayor’s race to cover.

Heading Down/Stalled

Red Maryland and Conservative Blogs

Free State Politics, a multi-author liberal blog, was the leading political blog in Maryland starting around 2006. Red Maryland, a multi-author conservative blog, was founded in July 2007 and passed Free State Politics in site visits in October 2007. That started a 13-month reign atop the state’s political blogosphere that was ended by MPW in November 2008. But Red Maryland’s slide has been much longer than that. The blog peaked in January 2008 with 14,614 site visits. Its June 2009 level was 7,859 visits, or 54% of its high point.

Red Maryland’s decline is echoed by a broader stagnation of the state’s conservative blogosphere.

The 15 conservative blogs that release their site visit statistics have together combined for around 30,000-40,000 monthly visits since October 2007. Their peak month, January 2008, occurred in the immediate aftermath of the special session’s tax package. The conservatives’ stall is noteworthy considering that the state’s entire blogosphere has been growing rapidly.

The state’s right wing has been plagued by infighting between the state Republican Party Chairman and its elected officials, staff disruption at party headquarters, pointless bickering over how to deal with the anti-Obama comments from Anne Arundel County and collapsing voter registration and electoral performance. Those facts may be combining with a general lack of morale to stall conservative blogdom in Maryland.

We’ll have a closer look at MPW’s readership next week.