A majority of online Americans (55 percent) say bloggers are important to the future of American journalism and 74 percent say citizen journalism will play a vital role, according to a new We Media—Zogby Interactive poll.

Most respondents (53 percent) also say the rise of free Internet-based media pose the greatest opportunity for the future of professional journalism and three in four (76 percent) say the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism.

In the national survey of adults, 72 percent said they were dissatisfied with the quality of American journalism today. A majority of conference-goers who were polled on the subject agreed—55 percent said they were dissatisfied, and 61 percent said they believed traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.

Nearly nine out of 10 media insiders (86 percent) said they believe bloggers will play an important part in journalism’s future.

“We are now seeing mainstream acceptance of what we call the Power of Us—the value, credibility, and vital expression of citizen and collaborative media,” says Dale Peskin, a managing director of iFOCOS, the organization that conducts the annual We Media conference. “We have arrived at a tipping point. A new definition of democratic media is emerging in our society.”

Dissatisfaction with today’s news reportage is greater among those nationwide online respondents who identified themselves as conservative: 88 percent said they were unhappy with journalism, while 95 percent of “very conservative” respondents said the quality of journalism today is not what it should be. Among those respondents identifying themselves as liberal, 51 percent said they are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism. Dissatisfaction levels were also highest among older respondents: 78 percent of those age 65 and older said they are dissatisfied.

Most respondents (65 percent) also said they believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news, with the highest levels of dissatisfaction with traditional journalism among those age 70 and older (74 percent), the very conservative (95 percent), and libertarians (89 percent). Despite concerns about its quality, 72 percent of those in the national survey said journalism is important to their community.

While a majority of respondents said Internet social networking sites and blogging will play in important role in the future of journalism. But they added that trustworthiness will be important to the future of the industry: 90 percent said trust will be key.

More online respondents nationwide said the Internet was their top source of news and information (40 percent), followed by television (32 percent), newspapers (12 percent) and radio (12 percent). The youngest adults in the poll, those age 18 to 24, were far more likely to say they mostly get news from Internet sites: 58 percent said the Internet is their main destination for news, with television coming in second at 18 percent. Fewer than one in 10 in this age group said they get the majority of their news from newspapers.

“The research documents the widespread recognition that control and influence on how we know what we know is shifting to a vastly more distributed network of empowered individuals and organizations,” says Andrew Nachison, co- founder of iFOCOS. “This obviously will have a big impact on how media organizations evolve and conduct business, but it’s really about how we all discover, create, share and apply information, and that’s important to all industries, to entrepreneurs, to non-profits, to governments, to individuals and to society as a whole. We are all part of the ecosystem.”