December 21, 2004

Slate, WaPo, and the Blogosphere

The purchase of the Microsoft vanity blog, Slate, by the Washington Post today has the b-sphere in a moderate lather. Best summed up by Hugh Hewitt with the rimshot, "[It] boils down to buying Kaus and some office furniture," the transaction points towards a trend. But what sort of a trend?

I looked about for someone to interview on this question and, since I hate to be on the phone or to travel, I decided to quote myself from my December 6 essay Building the Perfect Beast: What Is to Be Done in the Blogosphere

We've seen the standard axe jobs against the Blogosphere proliferate for a bit in the wake of the election, but those will pass. More important is the tendency of mainstream media to assimilate that which it cannot control.

Already we see corporate blogs beginning and more than a few mainstream media are beginning to assign internal bloggers and Blogosphere patrols.

While on one level, these are only post-mortem effects of MSM's reaction to the assault of the blogs, on another they are an attempt to pre-empt many of the larger blogs with big media blogs.

Individual bloggers typically begin their pages with a few friends and family and slowly build readership, if they build it at all, over months and years. Three focused group blogs bannered at the top of would achieve in a matter of weeks a readership that most bloggers only dream of. And corporate bloggers would also have something most bloggers don't even begin to dream of, a paycheck. would also enjoy many other advantages that could, left to their own devices, take them to the top of the Technorati 100 and reduce the readership of other pages across the board.

At the moment, the news gathering organization of something like The New York Times is focused on delivering news and 'analysis' from a thousand different sources to a newsroom and from there to patterns of ink pressed into bleached wood pulp. If that focus shifts, only a little bit, to the electronic streams of blogs the effect on blog readership will be profound. Currently, the Blogosphere is relying on the fact that organizations like the Times are square and retrograde. As they say, hope in one hand and ....

And soon we shall see even more about which hand fills up first.

Posted by Vanderleun at December 21, 2004 6:06 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Yes the NYT could move from paper to electrons but it would still be the NYT's writers and editers. What blogs have revealed is the extroardinary level of talent that exists outside the MSM and now we all access to them and them to us. And that includes you Mr. Van der Leun. Thanks for sharing your gift. Merry Christmas to you and your family and may God bless you all!

Posted by: phil gilbert at December 22, 2004 12:58 PM

Blogs may be the next Internet boomlet. It is about eyes on the screen and who can deliver them. If you and others deliver them, then you will be a valuable product in the future. If the NYT's delivers them, then they will indeed still be in business.

The blogosphere is here to stay, but it is evolving. It will get harder and harder to gain eyeballs without some hype, some push, some professional co-opters doing Drudge and more.

Tell me you and Lileks can't be bought. That is, paid to contribute to someone's major web site. Of course you're willing to work for money as you are for free, and nothing wrong with that.

The people in on the beginning of TV and the networks made a bundle, too. Same with radio. This is just a new media, and it will grow and consolidate.

Posted by: mark butterworth at December 22, 2004 9:49 PM