Sunday, September 26, 2004


Our revered (and semi-retired) colleague Billmon -- who, as the first blogger ever to give Yr. Mst. Hmbl. Mnrch. a link on his blogroll, has a permanent place in the imperial bloodpump -- has a long piece in today's L.A. Times on the rapidly-approaching and perhaps inevitable Twilight of the Blogs:
I should have seen the writing on the wall earlier this year when the World Economic Forum, the ferociously trend-following CEO club, sponsored a panel session on blogging at its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The discussion quickly turned to the commercial possibilities of blogging, leading one advertising executive to wonder why the big media companies didn't swoop down and buy up the popular blogs while they were still cheap.

At the time, the idea of buying a blog struck me as funny, like trying to buy a conversation. Now, having seen blogs I admired mutate into glorified billboards, and having witnessed the emergence of the "sponsored" blog (in which the blogger is literally an employee of, or contractor to, a corporate owner), I can see who's likely to have the last laugh.

As blogs commercialize, they are tied ever closer to the mainstream media and its increasingly frivolous news agenda. The political blogosphere already has a bad habit of chasing the scandal du jour. This election season, that's meant a laser-like focus on such profound matters as the mysteries of Bush's National Guard service or whether John Kerry deserved his Vietnam War medals.

Meanwhile, more unsettling (and important) stories — like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal or the great Iraq weapons-of-mass-destruction snipe hunt — quietly disappear down the media memory hole. And bloggers either can't, or won't, dig them back out again. As the convergence with big media continues, I suspect there will be progressively less interest in trying.
While we share Billmon's disdain for those bloggers who rely overmuch on "snippy one-liners and news nuggets" (because let's face it, who needs the competition), we would like to take this opportunity to assure you, our pitifully tiny cadre of dedicated readers, that the fiercely independent King of Zembla will not succumb to the temptation of corporate sponsorship, for which, as we understand it, the offer of corporate sponsorship would be a necessary precondition.

(In case you missed it, the NYT Magazine today ran a big article on lefty bloggers by Matthew Klam, who found them to be by and large arrogant, mean, self-righteous, irate, overly ambitious, poorly dressed, and -- in the case of Josh Marshall -- chronically rumpled. The one exception, according to Mr. Klam, is Wonkette, who is hot, but ultimately a semi-tragic figure because she is not as hot as she thinks she is.)

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