January 02, 2002
Now, that being said, I need to take issue with the point he makes in his first post, giving the reason behind his starting SmarterPundit. Bittker takes issue with the widely discussed idea that blogging has changed the composition of the media, giving the "outsiders" a voice. Bittker's argument is that since most, if not all of the "major" bloggers (a narrowly defined group of about eight or so blogs) are also published regularly in more widely seen publications, then these outsiders are really insiders, leaving the true voice of blogging to outsiders such as himself. From this point he deduces that "the reason the above are all well read is because of their other writings," while at the same time (in the same sentence, even) stating that he came across the big blogs through Slate's Mezine Central roundup.
Now, it's true that many bloggers also have regular paid writing gigs, but even if you focus on only the most-read ones it's highly unlikely that they obtained most of their readers from these other writings. Certainly Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan would probably fall into this category, but I hadn't heard of Glenn Reynolds, Josh Marshall, or Virginia Postrel -- at least not more than a passing reference or an article -- before I came across their sites through links on Slate or other sites. It's the same kind of reasoning found in indie rock (I'm waiting to hear the first cry of "sellout" thrown at a blogger), that once more than a handful of people start reading a site it can no longer be considered "outsider," and falls into the same category as The New York Times and the network news reports A definite change has taken place in the media world over the past few months, and if some sites become popular and influential this seems like proof of the change, rather than proof that nothing has changed.
I keep referring to Bittker's focus on the major bloggers, which brings up the other thing I find a little odd about the site. For somebody who's starting a blog about blogs, he doesn't seem to have much curiosity about them outside of the A-list. InstaPundit, for example yet again, has links to about two-dozen sites, including great ones such as U.S.S. Clueless and Matt Welch's Warblog, yet he had never gotten around to checking out, say, the excellent and fairly well-known (at least around these parts) QuasiPundit until they mentioned him. It's sort of self-fulfilling that blogs will seem to be a new form of insider media if you only read the most popular ones.
Ah well, more power to him. Bastard's probably already gotten more hits and mail than me...
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