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Blogs' Political Influence Questioned

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NEW YORK Bloggers were not as influential as the traditional news media during the 2004 presidential election, according to a new study.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project and BuzzMetrics found that bloggers often followed the lead of the mainstream media and politicians. It found that despite the high-profile impact bloggers had on events like "Rathergate," blogs' influence was mostly circumstantial, confined to moderating discussions of news events rather than driving them.

BuzzMetrics tracked 40 political blogs during the two-month run-up to the November 2004 election, comparing their ability to generate online discussion with mainstream media, the candidates' campaigns and message boards.

The report is the second recent analysis to cast doubt on whether blogs will emerge as a major media force. Last week, eMarketer issued a report that found more blogs were being created than read. Pew found the blog readership declined from November 2004 to May 2005. In November 2004, 27 percent of respondents said they regularly read blogs, while 25 percent said they did in May 2005.

Blogs have begun to gain attention from advertisers. According to a Forrester Research survey of 58 media buyers, 64 percent were interested in using blogs.