The Power of Bloggers

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I subscribe to a handful of blogs that are completely unrelated to my niche. The reason behind these subscriptions are varied: historical niche coverage that I’ve done (for instance, politics when I got started), friends or associates, really killer blogs related to specific sports teams, etc. There’s different reason. Largely, though, my RSS reader is a smattering of technology news, analysis, business, etc combined with a growing number of search feeds from Technorati, Google Blog Search or Icerocket.

One of the blogs I do subscribe to is Outside the Beltway which is one of the few political blogs that stuck after I stopped covering politics. Occasionally, James covers a topic that has crossover into the Technosailor market. This was one of those posts.

I still think the political space is different than the rest of the blogosphere and is a bit myopic (okay, a lot!), but there’s some great stuff. In his article, James notes that back when he began blogging in 2003(?), bloggers liked to write about blogging.

Unfortunately, it’s still that way today. Am I doing it now?

Largely, he makes a good point inadvertently, that the great blogs today are blogs that have something to say. They might be seen as “media”, depending on the niche. They might be seen as Journalists, depending on the niche. In the tech space, I’d call Gigaom a journalistic property, more than a blog. TechCrunch is largely a media organization, but I do question the journalistic legitimacy of a “publish now, correct later” site (something that Mike acknowledged in a Mesh Conference keynote last year and numerous other times as well).

I don’t want to get broiled down in the question of what is journalism and what is not? I don’t really want to discuss the “media merit” of any site, really.

More importantly, there is an evolution that takes place where a blog goes from a blog to a media property. It’s hard to tell, at least for me, what that point is. Is it when a site gets more than one author? Is it when there is a certain “rate of fire” on posts per day? Per week?

Is it pageviews and eyeballs? Is it simply a nomenclature thing where the Editor stops considering and calling the site a blog and starts referring to it as something else? Is it advertising? Is it the presence and participation in a network?

What’s the difference? Where is the line?

I think it’s obvious that some sites are “media” while others are not, but where and how does this evolution take place?

I expect other people to have different theories than I do, and that’s okay. My feeling is that it’s a combination of all of those things, but mostly it’s how the site is “sold” to readers? I see Technosailor.com, for instance, as a media property. Yes, it’s a blog? But is it?

We’ve recently refreshed the layout of the site to be more of a newspaper look, thanks to a large degree of influence from Huffington Post and The New York Times – both significant, and undeniable, “media outlets”.

Is that enough though? Probably not.

I’ve also hired other writers and contributors with an eye on hiring more as I’m able to recoup costs via advertising and other sponsorship. This is another ingredient, or at least that’s what Google News believes, since it does not accept any sources that don’t have multiple authors.

What’s the difference? Where is the evolutionary point?

Comments

  1. says

    Great post…
    A lot of it boils down to ethics and respect.
    My background is in the movie sites that flourished and still do mostly even after the big ‘dot bomb’.

    These sites were started by ‘fans’..but got street cred very quickly.

    However, the majority of these people had no background in journalism and there the ideas of what makes a GOOD journalist or a good writer tended to be a bit murky.

    A lot of bloggers and writers would do well taking basic courses in ethics and journalism.

    We all know that there is issues with fact checks, story swiping, hot linking, not giving credit etc…these are easy things to fix….

    But I have sat in rooms filled with bloggers where the concept of copyright was very confusing to them.

    This does not help.

    To be treated like a professional you have to act like one…no matter if you blog or write for fun or for money.

    I think a lot of this would help the non internet and ‘mainstream’ media take notice more too.

    Oh and that we all can’t be bought by pretty toys etc.

  2. says

    I still think of Instapundit and The Daily Dish as “blogs,” even though they are huge enterprises. For that matter, OTB has multiple authors (and is listed as a source in GoogleNews) but I still consider it a blog.

    On the other hand, as you say, HuffPo is clearly something other than a “blog” despite its use of WordPress. It’s just a conglomeration of context packaged, quite successfully, to sell. There’s no unique voice to the site and I’m pretty sure most authors lack the ability to simply post what they feel like, when they feel like it, without submitting to an editor.

    That, ultimately, strikes me as the line between “blog” and “other.” If the authors are largely unconstrained in writing what they want, they’re “bloggers.” If they have to hue to a party line, get editorial approval, or simply crank out X number posts a day to get paid, they’re “something else.”

  3. says

    Interesting thought on that, James. The editorial constraints is not something I had considered, but is a good “systemic symptom” of a media outlet.

  4. says

    I’d also note some separation as it pertains to Instapundit, touching back on a post I wrote yesterday where I referred to survival of the fittest among CEO blogs.

    While Glenn is, notably, a blogger and is, notably, read – his prominence and influence has diminished. I don’t know if I’d attribute that to the content (politics burnout, conservative burnout, etc) or the fact that readers really want to read things that challenge their thinking, as opposed to simply pointing around. In my case, I’d rather read a blog that offers original thought leadership than link pointing. I have Google Reader for that. I wonder if other people feel the same way I do?

  5. says

    “I’d rather read a blog that offers original thought leadership than link pointing.”

    Same here. Indeed, OTB started as a hybrid link/think blog and has evolved, for better or worse, into much longer but fewer postings.

    I use GoogleReader to organize my blog reading although I have included InstaPundit in my feed to get quick links that I might have missed. But he’s literally the only link blogger that I “read.”