http://auroracitizen.ca/2009/12/19/community-corner-great-aurora-love-in-currently-at-town-park/ There seemed to be a handful of people who took offense to a letter that was published.
There were an equal number of people that wrote in support of Ron and his editorial policy, myself included. Unlike a letters-to-the-editor page blogs are immediate, intimate, and filled with opinion. Some can become nothing more than shouting matches populated by trolls but to but to paint them all with the same brush and or ignore them seems to be very short sighted. I encourage anyone looking for a coherent narrative the subject of blogs to read Scott Rosenberg's recent book:
"Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What it's Becoming, and Why it Matters."
Given that he was writing in a time without social media, blogs, heck the internet was in its infancy, I found this quote to be of most interest: "In the telecomputer networks of the future, individuals will become producers as much as consumers because as broadcast systems break down into smaller and smaller units, the creative impetus of individuals will change them from consumers to prosumers". Social Media has done just that. The landscape has changed, a large role reversal has happened between editor and reader. That's monumental to the entire news business and not something one can ignore, at least not for long. So how exactly are broadcast systems breaking down? Thomas Baekdal produced a fantastic infographic which depicts a timeline of how news sources changed over the last 200 years: http://www.baekdal.com/articles/management/market-of-information/ Baekdal reinforces the point regarding consumer becoming producer: "The traditional journalistic reporting is by now completely replaced getting information directly from the source. Everyone is a potential reporter, but new advances in targeting will eliminate most of the noise. The journalists will turn into editors who, instead of reporting the news, bring it together [from citizen journalists or live sources like Twitter] to give us a bigger picture." Mint.com a popular online financial site published a revealing infographic on the death of the newspaper industry: http://www.mint.com/blog/trends/the-death-of-the-newspaper/ The decline in readership, advertising revenue and even stock prices are very telling. A new book : Blogwars: The New Political Battleground investigates how Blogs are changing the political scene: http://www.amazon.com/Blogwars-Political-Battleground-David-Perlmutter/dp/0195305574 As to how many people participate in blogs, that's a great question.
Whatever the number is, it is safe to say it isn't going to go down. Google Analytics helps provide metrics on viewership, participation is something different altogether. Unlike traditional broadcast media, blogs allow, nay, invites interaction. There are metrics that can track this too. I'm amazed at the numbers of unique, and repeat viewers my blog gets, Google Analytics tells me a lot. I'm even more interested to see what the voter turnout will be over at the newly created AURORA,Voter site (www.auroravoter.com)