Marc Fisher of the Washington Post writes in yesterday citing a British firm Gartner which does a study and prediction based on statistics that purportedly show that some 200 million people worldwide who had started blogs have already given them up.
Those who predict a quick end for blogging have missed essential points about blogging in general. First of all, blogging has evolved over time to the current form. The internet was immediately a source of information and also interactive information. The rise of blogging has actually occurred over the entire lifespan of the web (and the mass web).
Blogging fills several fundamental niches (holes if you will) in the reporting/ news industry. First, it gives people a source for unfiltered information. We no longer have to rely on large corporations to purchase printing presses in order to be able to quickly and easily disseminate information. Am I overstating it to say that blogging is as revolutionary a concept as Guttenberg’s printing press and the ability to mass produce written information? If so, not by much.
Second, in a conversation yesterday I had about blogging, the idea came up that newspapers are general interest papers–they have to cover everything. The Davis Enterprise has to cover the city council meeting but also Davis-fest. The Sacramento Bee covers Davis, but also Sacramento and many over communities in their media market. Blogs can cover very specific topics. No newspaper could focus solely on Davis politics and survive. But a blog for the most part can.
Third, blogs provide the public with an outlet for interactive communication. The difference between a newspaper and a blog is amazing in terms of the ability of blogs to interact with their readers. My readers can respond immediately and for the most part without fear of censorship. Newspapers require letters to the editor, separated by time and restricted by editorial decisions.
Fourth, the ability to get news that no one else covers. The ability for Senator Allen’s comments about “Macaca” and Senator Burn’s comments about firefighters were able to bypass traditional media censors and be halfway across the cyber-world before the traditional media sources even knew what was happening.
All of these point to an evolution in the way that blogging happens. Those who practice blogging as a hobby may indeed drop off. But think about this for a second–the Daily Kos gets millions of hits a day. Clearly, they are feeding a niche and a market that the current media do not tap. That is not to say the process will not continue to evolve. The most striking thing is that Marc Fisher writes about the end of blogging on a Washington Post blog.
Blogging is here to stay. Mass media will continue to develop and the process will be better for it.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting