Inside the Blog Divide

All blogging is not created equal, of course, but that becomes even clearer when you look at techPresident’s list of the top 50 political blogs. The list includes three “LGBT blogs” in their top 50–Andrew Sullvian’s Daily Dish, John Aravosis’ Americablog, and Pam Spaulding’s Pam’s Houseblend--plus a number of blogs that cover LGBT issues extensively, like Huffington Post, Daily Kos, 538, and Feministe.

Dig deeper in the list and you see that most of the blogs are connected to  traditional media outlets or have significant corporate funding. So what does that mean for the blog divide?  Here’s what Micah Sifry says at techPresident:

As we noted back in January, big media bloggers are steadily edging out their less-well-subsidized brethren in the U.S. political blogging arena. The first six additions to the list–The Plum Line, Glenn Thrush, etc.–are all backed by major media outlets. Not that this is news, but the days of the individual “pajama-clad” blogger hitting the big time are clearly over.

The ever present Pam Spaulding, while savoring her placement, raises serious questions about the future of “unfunded politically-minded, coffee-stained, PJ-wearing baristas.”

Other than handful of larger independent blogs that are self-sustaining through ads, like DKos, PHB is a dinosaur on that list –early adopter, slowly building an audience (of general readers, fellow bloggers, and influentials), but still unfunded (or not co-opted, depending on your POV). Ironically, many of the media-backed blogs are attempts to stay relevant as their print models are dragging them down the drain. You have to wonder what the point of convergence will be on both sides.

Despite her reach, Spaulding points out that she has another job that supports her blogging and that her location–in North Carolina–prevents her from covering D.C. and also making appearances that are important to building a blog brand.

PHB is an influential, successful blog relied upon by a ton of readers, and as I told the audience at Fire & Ink, it’s a resource to the community that hangs by a thread if you think about it. There’s no infrastructure to support it, and that’s why you’re going to see fewer and fewer independent bloggers on that Technorati list as time goes on.

When people talk about citizen journalism being “the future” and that journalists need to understand blogging, what exactly are we talking about. Are we talking about the lucky and talented few who can make a career–and build an industry–on blogging? Are we talking about citizen journalism that adds to (or even demoinates) the conversation, but isn’t a means of support?

As always, Spaulding raises great questions.

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