Blogospheric navel gazing thread
[I am leaving this sticky because the comment thread is quite lively and helping me (and Corrente) in the way I think I (and Corrente) need to be helped. Also too, Campaign Countdpwn project retrospective and reconsideration. --lambert]
A fresh thread for any extra thoughts on lambert's post. Some extemporaneous thoughts of my own below the fold.
I started blogging in 2007, well after the first big wave of political bloggers (roughly 2000-2003). By 2007 there was already a well developed network of blogs left and right. Much of it was "heh indeedie" stuff: Banal comment plus link to longer article. A lot of the rest of it was breaking news based - be the first to comment on the latest story. Twitter and Facebook have subsequently taken over a lot of that kind of thing, which is just as well. Blogs were never a suitable platform for that anyway. For a time they were the only tool available though. In any event, I knew I could never compete with that and I didn't want to.
Moreover, I didn't think it was sustinable. my thought was, what can I contribute that is different? I settled on a model of one essay-length post per week, initially focusing on executive power. Over time that came to include other stories not getting the kind of coverage I thought they deserved.
When SB 5/Issue 2 exploded in Ohio I switched over to participating in and covering the effort as best I could. Then in the last year plus fracking started going crazy at the local level, and my blogging scope narrowed yet again.
Over time my focus has gone from national to state, then state to local. It wasn't by design, that's just how it happened. On the other hand, it might be harder to sustain a purely national scope for an independent blog. Unlike traditional outlets, blogs have an element of activism to them. National activism is tough; it's discouraging even. I've sensed a lot of frustration on the left at the inability to get big, undiluted national victories. Sustaining a nationally scoped blog in the face of that takes a special kind of temperment.
Blogs need a "something else" to keep them afloat and to keep their writers/readers engaged. Participating in and reporting on local fracking activism has filled that need for me. Lambert's timelines, maps and pinboards are coming to serve that for Corrente (the PCS explosion happened just as the timeline functionality became available through the site upgrade - hooray for good timing!)
Sites that don't have the something else will have a hard time. Not that they can't succeed, but they'll be tougher to sustain over time. I haven't blogged as long as some of the folks who hung it up recently, so this may be premature of me to say. But I made some very deliberate choices when I began blogging, and it all centered around what I could sustain and what wasn't already getting saturation coverage.
For individual bloggers, a sustainable pace and filling unmet needs seem pretty important for longevity. For sites, something beyond covering the latest out of DC. As lambert wrote, blogs weren't meant to overthrow the MSM in some kind of "meet the new boss" revolution. They began with the idea of connecting like minded thinkers an activists in an attempt to route around the big outlets. I for one have never been interested in storming the ramparts. We are the media. Let's build each other up.