The Dulling of Blogs

Are veteran bloggers pulling their punches, asks Ross Mayfield?

Om and Jeremy sensed it as individuals. Bribery and ads in their first incantations.  There is a lot of talk of money these days, and new entrants are muting us and future bloggers.  The venture-backed stopped blogging a while ago.  Maybe we are all busy making money.  Maybe we don’t want to say anything that would prevent us from doing so.

Fred Wilson adds that being chastised by readers "makes you pause."

To what extent do blogs disrupt traditional journalism? Clearly, newspaper subscription numbers continue to drop, but that is due as much to a panoply of media choices, not just blogs. Over time, certain bloggers like Matt Drudge have essentially become establishment journalists while certain establishment journalists like Andrew Sullivan have become influential bloggers. At least, that is the case in places that enjoy greater freedom of the press. Michael Standaert notes that in places like Iran, non-traditional journalists do not necessarily become establishment, they end up in jail.

The new media’s ability to disrupt or circumvent traditional media remains strongest in event-driven journalism: the people coverage of protests in the Philippines or the Seattle protests, for instance. Those are the swarming, individually empowered participatory reporters that Howard Rheingold describes so well in Smart Mobs. Otherwise, a lot of what is being written and published remains most relevant to a blogger or writer’s small circle of contacts. (Some blogs and Internet sites are little more than family newsletters.) More successful blogs will be pressured to become part of corporations or to become more corporate. Om Malik talks about the "marginalization of the citizen blogger in favor of more corporate brand names." The benefit of blogs and other Internet publishing tools is that they considerably lower the barriers to getting thoughts in print, making it easier to reach potential readers. They still do not make it any easier to keep readers reading.

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