Structural Transformation Of The Blogosphere

This interview with Glenn Greenwald popped up on my radar because I’m mentioned in it but I think it’s pretty insightful:

But I think that the idea that bloggers are this oppositional force to the media has eroded, in part because some of the more successful bloggers have been absorbed into these media institutions, and at the same time, a lot of these media institutions — which kind of ignored blogging for a long time, and then paid attention to it only to mock it — have decided that they now need to be bloggers. Another notable shift is that the liberal blogosphere really was an outside, marginalized force at first, and took pride in that. When it largely devoted itself to Barack Obama’s election, though, it became more an organ of the Democratic Party than it did any kind of insurgent or outsider force. That’s a little oversimplified; there certainly are a lot of bloggers who are still in that outsider role. There are some, like Matt Yglesias, who have one foot in one camp and one in the other. But I do think the dichotomy has blurred a lot over the last several years.

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That seems pretty right to me. When I started out, a “blogger” was by definition not a real journalist. He might have been a college student like me or a professor or an anonymous scribbler working a day job. Today, the New York Times publishes lots of blogs and most of us early bloggers who met with success have gotten hired by someone or other. By and large, that’s a good thing and represents good sense on the part of established media institutions. Still, there is a cost and in my sentimental moments I miss the gold old days. I don’t accept the view that the alternative to being an “insurgent or outsider force” is to be “an organ of the Democratic Party” but the political arena is shot through with tensions around the desire to be a player in the struggles between the powers that be and a desire to be a critic of the entire system.