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By Dave Beal, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 27--Are blogs good for business?
While online journals have taken politics by storm, firms are slower to embrace new medium
Two years ago, a Web designer talked the three partners who run Surly Bikes in Bloomington into launching an online journal -- commonly called a blog -- to promote the bicycle parts and accessories the company makes.
It worked. Today, the Surly Bikes blog is alive with folksy, frequent postings that connect with what partner Andy Corson describes as "the cycling subculture." He says the company's blog, which touts products and responds to customers' questions, has become the most popular part of its Web site.
Scores of other businesses have started blogs or are considering doing so. Indeed, advocates and impartial observers alike call blogging a mushrooming new arm of the media.
The United States had roughly 10.3 million bloggers at the end of 2004, twice the number a year earlier and up from just 958,000 in 2001, says Jeffrey Henning, chief …