Monday, September 27, 2004

Blogs selling out

I've reread Billmon's essay a few times. I'm not so sure what Billmon was up to precisely but one thing I'm certain: I think he meant to generate discussion in a big way. And I'm glad to see this because this sort of navel gazing is badly needed, especially in the big blogs he targets.

Publishing his process statement in the LAT was a statement in itself, kind of surprising when he could've easily put it up at a number of places and still get a huge buzz from it.

It's not clear to me, even after several reads, what exactly and who he is talking about when he says the blogs and bloggers have essentially sold out. Is it Yglesias and Drum? Or does he include Atrios and Kos? Or is he talking about the blogs by all the people who are paid already, who work in think tanks and media organizations, who start off with a huge advantage in resources, time, money and staff?

And rereading it, I think he's addressing just the few, the 'charmed' ones who bag the lion's share of readers and, now, revenue.

What Billmon describes is certainly true in education, ones who've already sold out in the first place. I see, especially on the net in education policy, how conservative think tank sponsored blogs have quickly established a comfortable niche amongst the commercialized Dem bloggers. Education policy from the conservative think tanks now have a direct pipeline and access, as well as a respected voice. And in that world, the grass roots voices, like mine, have no influence.

What Billmon misses, however, is the most difficult challenge: solutions. I think generating discussion is a good start but I think he's more in a position than I to suggest solutions, so that it's less hierarchical and closed off.b

You can read his essay on Matt Stoller's post at BOP, if the LAT's link rots.