THE BLOGOSPHERE IS, LIKE, TOTALLY INBRED: Er, except that I haven’t ever heard of most of these blogs, which are nonetheless a big thing in their part of the sphere, I gather.
There are more things in the blogosphere, Jennifer Howard, than are dreamt of in your articles….
Er, you, too, Instapundit. For as this post reminds us, the “warbloggers” (i.e., the political bloggers who mostly sprang to life in the wake of 9/11) and the arts bloggers (i.e., Our Girl and I and all the other folks mentioned in Jennifer Howard’s article) don’t seem to overlap all that much. To be sure, there’s lots and lots more of them than there are of us. “About Last Night”‘s traffic has gone through the roof on the infrequent occasions when the warblogging sector of the blogosphere has taken note of our activities. But for the most part we arts bloggers go our own way quite happily, gradually building an audience of interested readers, some of whom also visit the warblogs (as I do) and some of whom don’t.
Meaning what? That many more people are interested in politics than art (surprise!). That it’s a big pool, with plenty of room for everybody. Above all, that the Web has the power to create and foster far-flung, widely dispersed “communities” of strangers with common interests–and to do it on the cheap.
Jeff Jarvis, who blogs at BuzzMachine, reported yesterday (in near-real time, no less!) on a speech given by Andrew Sullivan, one of the pioneer bloggers, to the Online News Association. Here are his notes:
What sets apart weblogs, [Sullivan] says, is economics: He talks about the economics of thoughtful journalism: The New Republic has never made money and loses more. The Nation doesn’t make money.
“And then I experienced blogging as an alternative. It staggers me to realize that last week, AndrewSullivan.com… is now reaching more people online than the magazine I used to edit, which is still losing… hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That’s a big deal… We haven’t just made the economics of journalism cheaper…. We haven’t just lowered the barriers to entry to journalism, we’ve completely revolutionized it.”
“The overhead is minimal and the reach is almost infinite.”
The fact that Andrew Sullivan is English may be relevant in this connection. In the U.S., journalism came over the past half-century to be viewed as a “profession”–something you can’t do without formal training and, preferably, an academic degree. In Europe, it’s something that can be and is done by any literate person for whatever reason–to make money, to help shape the cultural conversation, even just for fun.
I think the second model makes more sense, and also makes for better, livelier journalism. Most newspaper and magazine editors disagree, and prior to the emergence of the blogosphere, they ran things. Now they don’t. Which might just be the most important thing about blogs: they have brought about a wholesale revival of “amateur” journalism, in the very best sense of the word.
That’s the lead–not that Instapundit hasn’t heard of Maud, or that Jennifer Howard thinks TMFTML is too snarky. This is new. And it matters. And you’re here.