Many people see Web journals or "blogs" as alternatives to the mainstream media, but most Americans who run them do so as a hobby rather than a vocation, according to a report released on Wednesday.

About 77 percent of blog authors, or "bloggers," said they post to express themselves creatively rather to get noticed or paid, according to the report, released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The report also found that 37 percent of bloggers cited their life and experiences as their primary topic, while politics and government came in second at 11 percent.

Entertainment was the next most-popular blog topic, with 7 percent, followed by sports, at 6 percent and news at 5 percent. Religion or spirituality was the aim of 2 percent.

About 8 percent of Internet users, or 12 million American adults, keep a blog, Pew estimated. Some 39 percent of U.S. Web users, or 57 million adults, read them, the researchers said.

More than half, or 54 percent, of bloggers are under age 30.

U.S. bloggers are evenly divided between men and women, and are more racially diverse than the Web population in general: Forty percent are non-white.

About 34 percent see their blogging as a form of journalism; 65 percent disagreed. Just over a third of bloggers said they engage often in journalistic activities such as verifying facts and linking to source material.

More than 40 percent of bloggers said they never quote sources or other media directly. Eleven percent said they post corrections. Sixty-one percent said they rarely or never get permission to use copyrighted material.

Fifty-five percent of bloggers write under a pseudonym. Nearly nine out of ten bloggers invite comments from other readers. Four out of five blogs use text, while 72 percent display photos and audio links play on 30 percent of blogs.

Eighty-two percent of bloggers think they will still be blogging in a year. Three percent say they have quit.

The Pew report was based on a telephone survey of 233 self-identified bloggers conducted between July 2005 and February 2006. The error margin was 6.7 percent.

The report may understate rapid changes in how people blog, as 13 percent of those surveyed used LiveJournal software to blog, MySpace was used by 9 percent and Blogger 6 percent of the time. MySpace has proliferated since the survey ended and far outnumbers other tools.

(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco)

© 2006 Reuters