Five years ago The Times could have bought the best local blogs in New
York for a song— instead, they decided they could do it better
in-house, and completely surrendered the 20-40 year old demographic to
sites like ours.
I talked about this with people in meatspace a few months back, the idea that most newspapers start blogs and then staff them, whereas most blogs start with the staff, ie, a person who has something to say about which he or she feels passionately, and then the content follows. The result in the former case is content that feels labored and mannered and inorganic, not to mention desperate. You getthis sort of thing. Nothing’s screaming READ ME RIGHT NOW. Nothing’s screaming, period. And the dearth of comments proves the point. Why respond? There’s nothing to respond to.
Whereas with the latter, you have a base of knowledge to begin with and a passion for the subject, and newspapers should have picked those up without all the pointless snobbery we endured for six years about the unwashed Internet masses and how without knowing AP Style you weren’t shit (as if AP Style is genetic, and not, say, something everybody has to learn once). Local blogs (and smaller local papers) should have been the farm teams for bigger ones, feeding upward in terms of information and personnel.
Instead, big newspapers looked down on the little guys, and bitched about the Internet, and everybody on the Internet who once saw newspapers as an honorable line of work said, “Okay, FINE then, Charleston Chew, we ain’t wasting our time at parties bullshitting with you vapid preppies, we’ll go get our own readers and build our own ad networks and have our own conversations and you can continue writing stories about taxes and sticking bananas up your bungholes.” Then the advertising crash happened and everybody figured out David Brooks and George Will were boring.
And plenty of people began to take notice and the tide reversed, and now they’re snatching up anybody they can find, only it’s too late because those lowly bloggers have learned some self-respect and won’t sign on to be treated like shit just to get a Herald or a Tribune or a Times on their resumé, and that’s of course a sign of the apocalypse, people trying to make it on their own. So we convene an academic panel to figure out what the fuck went wrong, when what really went wrong is what always goes wrong. Nobody listened.