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“Which Blog Are You?” Take the quiz!

September 30, 2009

If I had time, energy, and an audience that appreciated class-related side projects, I would make a facebook personality quiz titled, “Which Technorati Top-100 Blog are You?” based on the information presented in Scott Rosenberg’s Say Everything. The book convinces me that there’s a blog for everyone.  If what you’re looking for isn’t there, you can create one that fulfills this need.  Rosenberg paints this conclusion as the natural result of having an open forum where one can “say everything.”  Many of the blogging pioneers mentioned in the first two sections–Evan Williams and Justin Hall, to name a few–really did blog because they were driven to it.   One of my favorite quotations from the text goes, “Blogging began as a pursuit of amateurs, in the pure meaning of the word: people motivated by love” (166) because it fits so nicely with the stories (with the exception of “Blogging for Bucks”) Rosenberg tells.  The book convincingly describes early blogging as a labor of love, emphasis on the word labor.  

The real question for me, however, is how the blogging will fill the holes left behind by the demise of main-stream media.  Can we get people to cover state and regional governments pro bono?  Rosenberg’s rosy depiction of his beloved amateurs makes me feel like someday, some bloggers will decide to take charge on covering state and regional-level news, but feeling that way isn’t the same thing as having proof.  Even without bloggers, there might be a way to get around Clay Shirky‘s prediction that we will soon enter an age of unbridled state and regional corruption.  Perhaps the solution is in a public model.  For example, convering the statehouse was the kind of less-exciting field experience job I could have been assigned when I was an eager intern at WCBE, a public radio station in Columbus, Ohio.  Luckily for me, we got most of our statehouse news from the Ohio Public Radio’s Statehouse News Bureau which specialized in state-level news.  If it’s true that the NPR business model is one of the most sustainable (sidenote: when I was working in public radio, it never felt like anyone believed we were actually a viable model though that might just be journalistic cynicism), then perhaps there is a future for the state watchdog after all.  Part of me wonders if Shirky made his alarmist prediction about state and regional corruption to ensure that people would be willing to fund news organizations at that level.

A final thought: in “The Rise of Political Blogging”, Rosenberg asks “Why hadn’t the Washington press corps jumped on the Lott story in the first place?”   A series of hypothetical explanations follow the question, suggesting that the press chose not to break a major story out of a desire to maintain access with key sources or to not be distasteful since they were covering a birthday party.  I’m guessing that Chris Lydon would use this incident to justify the demise of mainstream media.  I do agree that traditional media failed on the Lott story, but I’m not fully convinced that the blogosphere can take over what the press corps was supposedly trying to protect, that is, future access tosources and  information. Crowd-sourced investigation certainly has proven it’s worth, and perhaps it will make up for the insider access that might die with traditional journalism.  Or am I wrong to assume that bloggers won’t have that access too?

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