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Traditional Media Reporters Fail To Understand The Purpose Of Blogging

I promise I will not do a lot of “meta” here on C&L, but I couldn’t help myself after I read something this morning. Apparently the Politico’s Ben Smith is experiencing a little bit of “blog neurosis.” He feels confused on how to

I promise I will not do a lot of “meta” here on C&L, but I couldn’t help myself after I read something this morning. Apparently the Politico’s Ben Smith is experiencing a little bit of “blog neurosis.” He feels confused on how to navigate through his news chores of both blogging and tweeting as he lamented to AdWeek that Twitter is “sort of draining the life from the blog.” His boss Jim VandeHei seems to feel his pain suggesting blogs many not “thrive as robustly as it did four years ago” because of the rise of Twitter.

Well the thoughts from both Smith and VandeHei seem amusing because they give us a peek of the mindsets of traditional media reporters who never fully appreciated the concept of blogging. It is interesting that these reporters are looking at the 2008 election cycle as the time when blogs really came into prominent. This platform actually came into prominence during progressive netroots emergence following the march to Iraq war. I am sure Amato can share his own thoughts on that.

Moreover, reporters like Smith, VandeHei and their colleagues from traditional media outlets in the DC bubble fundamentally misconstrue the purpose of blogging. I have a newsflash for those guys: blogging is not just about breaking news stories with a provocative headline slapped together with a 2-4 paragraph excerpts and 2-3 sentence superficial takes. It is lot more than that. Blogging can have many different purposes including but not limited:

  • Aggregating all the news in place to give the readers a sketch of the narrative
  • Offering analysis and break-down on micro-angle of a story
  • Using it as an organizing platform for community related events
  • Using it to lay out a vision/plan – applicable for that community – in the coming months
  • Using it as a place to solicit substantive feedback from the community on targeted issues and stories

One can just scroll through years of Crooks and Liars archive to get a sense of the multi-dimensional aspects of blogging which can come in so many different forms, making it a richer place for knowledge (especially when it is run in a smart and strategic way like Amato has done here and also in places like DailyKos, TalkingPointsMemo etc).

The purposes outlined above are just a sampler. Both blog and Twitter can be integrated effectively, if the person using those tools actually knows what they are doing. I doubt you will find prolific reporters such as Brian Beutler, Greg Sargent or Sam Stein complaining about the chores of blogging and tweeting at the same time. Those guys actually enjoy it and are setting examples of how it is done in the modern media landscape.

I get the sense that reporters like Smith never really understood blogging. A close friend of mine, who I consider to be one of the sharpest Democratic Strategists in DC, fired off some poignant reflections when he read Smith’s post today. Let me share that and a closing thought after the jump.
Here were my friend's musings on Smith's "blog neurosis" post:

"People are not refreshing my blog anymore!!!" Please.

Ben Smith and these other "blogger reporters" always approached blogging through the perception of what they thought bloggers did or were like. Ben Smith, especially, brought a sort of juvenile approach to his usual two or three lines, blockquote, snarky remark formula.

Furthermore, blogs have never really been viable, financially. That was always sort of the problem. Liberal blogs come and go all the time because so few manage to be self-sustaining whereas conservative blogs of all stripes tend to feed from the right-wing welfare trough or are bought up by goons like the Eagle Forum.

News is broken on Twitter now, yes, but you can't get the full story on Twitter and it is littered with misinformation (some intentional, some not, like the Giffords aftermath). Ben Smith seems to just admit defeat, wave the white flag, and sigh, because he's fixed in his view of blogging as a business model, which I'd liken to pharmaceutical companies and prescription painkillers: it’s all in the comeback.

Seems to be on point to me.

By the way, if you can care you can follow yours truly musings at “@murshed. Unlike Mr. Smith, Twitter is not draining our blogging.

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