So I was interviewed for this Daily Beast article that appeared today, and I think the author missed a few things. One is, as Jane Hamsher points out, we lost revenue over Google ad practices. (Not to mention the Obama campaign’s refusal to buy ads directly from blogs. Guess they showed us, huh?)
But I liked Pam Spaulding’s take best. Like me, Pam is just trying to stay afloat with her health problems:
What Freedlander didn’t mention is the decline and fall of newspapers and other traditional media over the same time period. Just this week Newsweek (part of the Daily Beast network…hmmm.) announced it’s going digital only. That’s a huge if not unexpected shift — it’s another bookmark on the media timeline. Publishers have been rocked by the success of e-books; Amazon sells more books for its Kindle than hard copies. The landscape is shifting for everyone. Is it good or bad, or just “change.” It’s obviously causing pain, as the scramble to adapt means jobs lost and people who need to re-tool themselves for jobs that require a different skill set. What’s happening to independent blogs is not occurring in a vacuum.
A logical question, going back to blogs, is does activism of the kind that flourished in the Netroots back in the day suffer? Yep. But things have morphed. The bottom line is people love free content, and at least in my case I don’t have the time to “sell” what I do; I barely have time to do it. The fact that the advertising world on blogs is dominated by Google makes it easier for those wishing to advertise to do so “economically” and more easily in their minds — at the expense of those independent blogs and their networks. So essentially there’s little incentive to do long-form writing except for personal reasons when I want to do it. And so I’m in full circle — back to why I did it in 2004, when no one was reading PHB and I had few ads. And that has to be OK? Who knows.
It’s not that independent political blogging is toast — after all the longevity of a blog post in the historical record far outweighs a short message on social media. A blog essay has more lasting influence; the problem is independent blogs don’t have sufficient value in today’s commercial space to sustain their existence — save for the lucky few people who have been able to monetize (or fundraise) for theirs to continue to exist.