Survival of the Netroots

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.

5 thoughts on “Survival of the Netroots

  1. It was interesting to read your post and the article. If you remember, I was one of those who found this place because of the war but left a lot of sites I used to love because of the PUMAs movement and the fact that the Edward/Hillary v. Obama wars became so vehement.

    I think there is a place for the netroots to thrive and for it to recapture its power so long as the target is the right.

    At one point I was amazed at so much time was spent attacking our own team. At one point around the time of Obamacare’s passing, many of my favorite netroots sites spent more ink on blasting Obama than the obstructionist republicans.

    I know it isn’t in our nature as progressives and liberals, but we could learn something from the unified nature of the right. When the war is on, their guns are pointed at us. Meanwhile we are aiming at each other.

    Anyway, I am coming back to read your stuff again and perhaps donate. I hope we can find that unity again.

  2. @ABGL The problem with progressive/liberal/democrats:

    Saw a quote from a commenter on Agonist to the effect that Republicans hate Democrats and Democrats hate Democrats.

    It reminded me of Chesterton’s Father Brown character commenting that the most bitter anti-Catholics were those who grew up devoutly Catholic and were subsequently disappointed by the shortcomings and hypocrisy of the Church and its representatives.

    The strength of the Right is that it never doubts its righteousness. Only the most extreme Leftists are that self-righteous, so the Left is more fragmented and thus less effective politically.

  3. Pardon my bluntness, I have only found my way here from reading that article so I don’t know about the glory days.

    What I can see is the now. The article mentioned you blog now more than ever yet the overwhelming majority of the pieces I’ve just read are little more than links to what others are saying. I kept scrolling looking for anything that would make me return to see your specific take on this world and I kept getting videos and links.

    I found plenty of reasons to read other people but no compelling reason to return here.

    Best of luck to you and your.

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