Will Blogs Kill Political Magazines?
Andrew Sullivan, who was editor-in-chief of The New Republic when he was 12 and now works at The Atlantic, notes that the websites of conservative opinion magazines National Review and The Weekly Standard get no more traffic than the top conservative blogs.
So the competition for the opinion-reader is intense. And the financial edge of individual bloggers with relatively no overhead and free content will surely undermine the clout of such magazines over time.
It may be that the blogosphere will kill off opinion journalism as we have known it. In so far as that might mean less groupthink, less control by a few big money machers, and lower barriers to new talent and expertise, that strikes me as pretty good news overall. Or maybe the print magazines will hang on as appendages to the online debate, as a way of milking those email addresses for money and offering a luxury product that will still be worth it.
The main advantage magazines have over blogs, it seems to me, is institutional gravitas. Television and radio bookers, publishing houses, opinion columnists, mainstream journalists, and other influence leaders are far, far more likely to turn to someone with the imprimatur of an institution that to a self-published blogger.
There are exceptions, of course. Markos Moulitsas, Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Glenn Greenwald, and others have managed to become regular talking heads almost exclusively through their blog-gained fame and at least three of them got book deals, too. I can’t off the top of my head think of a conservative counterpoint, though — maybe Glenn Reynolds?
Ultimately, it’s television that matters if you’re trying to get the word out. Bill Kristol, George Will, Bob Novak, and others have had much more impact with their on air commentary than for their written work. Indeed, most viewers are only casually aware that these people have columns at all.
Influence, not pageviews, is the ultimate goal.