Liberal blogs by the numbers

When last we visited, I discussed conservative Oklahoma blogs, how small and narrow their readership was, and how much blog conflict takes place in a largely empty echo chamber. I also observed that the fragmentation of the media allows readers to consume information narrowly, and allows writers to skip editorial control and publish "automatic to the people" (sorry, Michael Stipe).

This week, the liberal blogs and chat boards get their turn. And the news is not especially good, although it is better than for the conservative blog sites. Using the Web site, I measured penetration of about 30 politically oriented Oklahoma blogs, based on the core stat that is used to compute page rank: backlinks (links from another Web site), and also a secondary measure, average daily page views.

Among the identified "left-leaning" blogs identified as such by the Okie Blog Awards, the top traffic Web site was the satirical popular culture blog The Lost Ogle, with an average of more than 4,100 views a day and more than 32,000 backlinks. Much of TLO's content is driven by popular culture content rather than political content.

Among the purely political lefty blogs, Okie Funk, written by Oklahoma Gazette contributor Kurt Hochenauer, runs 162 views a day and has 14,887 backlinks, while the message board Demo Okie runs just more than 500 views a day with 16,844 backlinks. Serena Blaiz's Peace Arena is running about 187 views and 9,271 backlinks, and Okie Doke runs 361 views and 7,301 backlinks. Ben Odom's OK Democrats is running less than 100 views a day and has 517 backlinks, while the feminist Web site Progress on the Prairie is pulling more than 250 daily views but has just 74 backlinks.

The daily readership of lefty Web sites is as narrow as that for the conservatives, and, in fact, it is sometimes a shared readership of journalists and political activists and party insiders from both camps. Two critical features distinguish these sites from the conservative blog (obviously not the low traffic). What distinguishes them are the lack of infighting and the volume of feedback.

With the exception of Demo Okie, which sometimes acts as a news source, these Web sites are too busy battling conservatives to fight with each other. And, they seem to engage more diverse and critical feedback " the commentary is more active and interactive.

The liberal blogs do suffer one critical deficiency compared to the conservative blogs: the lack of any media tie-in. The conservative voices on the Internet are also in AM radio, and are therefore able to reach audiences they otherwise miss online.

There's no room for liberal blogger content in AM talk " no audience " and the liberal blogosphere is not sufficiently credible to hold lasting connections with the public radio stations in Oklahoma.

With the exception of the (nominally political) Lost Ogle, there's no liberal blog with a conventional media tie-in, and even then TLO's is an alternative music radio show, not a political talk or news vehicle.

Next time: Oklahoma political blogs that attract readership, and why they succeed.

Gaddie is a political science professor at OU and the author of the new OU Press book "The Triumph of Voting Rights in the South."

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