Checking in with the AJ Uberblogger

There is an interview with Arts Journal founder and presiding eminence Doug McLennan over at the AJ blog Life's a Pitch. So I learn only indirectly, since Doug is a pretty hands-off guy with regard to what folks do around here. But I'm glad to have a chance to plug it.

AJ is now into its tenth year of publication (it started on 19 Sept 1999, he mentions in the interview) and gets from 45,000 visitors per day, with some 33,000 people signed up for the email. On the one hand, a lot. On the other hand, a fraction of the growth that Inside Higher Ed has had in under 4 years. I'm not sure why that is, though each is clearly occupying a large portion of its mass-media niche market.
Important point:

One interesting thing is that many of our newsletter subscribers forget there's a website. They think of AJ as a newsletter. There's yet another group that gets AJ as an rss feed and another that sees it embedded in other websites. So about a year ago I stopped thinking of AJ as a website and more as a service. If I just think of it as a website, I'm missing a huge number of users who never see it that way.
If memory serves, it was Scott Eric Kaufman who pointed out to me how RSS feeds had started to change the way people read blogs -- making the whole experience much less gemeinschaft-y, if that's how to put it. But it sounds as if the changes in online reading habits are much broader than that.

Can anyone argue with this point by Doug?

I think newspapers have hurt themselves greatly by the ways they've come to think about arts coverage. There's a huge audience out there, but newspapers have pursued a dumb strategy when it comes to A&E coverage.
I've never really considered myself a journalist, at least not primarily, but have enjoyed writing for newspapers over the years (even at the cost of having to put up, from time to time, with the usual cheap and ignorant condescension by academic towards reporters); and the piecemeal destruction of serious cultural coverage by newspapers has been painful to watch, since it is often accompanied by efforts to be that much more "hip, hot, and happenin'" in ways that are almost always pretty cringe-inducing.

Of course now the point may be moot. How many newspapers are going to survive the impending avalanche? Not many. I think Doug may be, if anything, too optimistic.
September 27, 2008 1:10 PM | | Comments (1)



I pointed that out, I remember that. But if you remember someone saying something smart about it, you're probably thinking about a conversation with somebody else.

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