Drowning in a Sea of Blogs
Stephen Bainbridge has grown weary of the day-to-day grind of maintaining a blog of political commentary.
With the blogging “market” increasingly crowded, the model of an eclectic, general interest blog is a less viable one. Perhaps more importantly, I’m just getting tired of the punditry style of blogging. I’m not enjoying writing that style as much; for that matter, I’m not enjoying reading other punditry blogs very much these days.
Despite the overall growth of blogs, the increasing dominance of blogs that are the Internet equivalent of talk radio, with their predictable hyper-partisanship, has turned many people off. Steven Taylor, for example, has been having similar thoughts:
While I still enjoy “punditry” (although I prefer to think of it a analysis and commentary) I have for some time felt less and less interested in partisan discussions, per se—something which I engaged in more in the earlier days of this blog. While I remain more than willing to engage in philosophically-based commentary, I find myself less and less “partisan”—indeed, I believe that blogging has made me less partisan (at least in my own mind) than I used to be, even though it initially made me, I think, more-so.
Taylor is dealing with this by striving to be more analytical and listening to sports talk rather than politics on the radio (a move I’ve made myself over the last couple of years). Bainbridge’s solution is to rebrand his site into “a niche blog focused on business law and economics.” That could prove quite satisfying, as he is a genuine expert in that genre, and he can indeed contribute something distinct to the discussion. At the same time, though, that will make blogging even more like work.
Further, as Dan Drezner points out, “half of the fun of this blog is that I can talk about anything that comes into my head.” I’m with him on that even though, like Taylor, “I would far prefer to be taken seriously as an analyst (even if one known to have certain philosophical predilections) than to attract an audience of red-meat devouring partisans.”
To me, the key is deciding what you want your blog to be (or, at least aspire to be) and then accepting the consequences. Being thoughtful and treating opposing viewpoints seriously will get you readers on both sides of the aisle but it will all but preclude building a rabid following a’la Daily Kos or Power Line. There’s simply a much larger audience of people who want to be pandered to and fed a constant message of “Yay, us!” and “Boo, them!” That’s true in talk radio and it’s increasingly true on the blogs.
UPDATE: Commenter RiverRat is outraged by the insinuation that Kos and Power Line are comparable. I merely cite them as archetypes of sites that are incredibly popular and predictably partisan.
DK tends to be more strident in tone that PL, even though the headliners at both sites are lawyers. The PL gang is older and hence more civil; they’re more Dennis Prager than Michael Savage. Still, a look at the posts on the home page makes it clear that they’re cheerleaders for the GOP and happy to villainize the Democrats whenever they can.
UPDATE: Craig Henry nails it:
The polarized nature of political debate, especially in the blogosphere, has exacerbated this problem. Too much of what passes for debate has been thrust and parry between “wingnuts” and “moonbats.”
It is hard to admit mistakes when that seems to confirm the “moonbats” were correct on any point.