Anyway, kudos to Nate Silver, and RIP to the amateur progressive blogosphere. It provided a regular feeling of revolutionary ecstasy while it lasted, but there was no way it could last very long. It was a transitional period into a new media and political paradigm, not a new paradigm unto itself.
I second that kudos to Mr. Silver, but think Chris Bowers is missing the point of the blogosphere. Anybody can publish anything and share it with anyone. People can discuss their esoteric hobbies with other knowledgeable hobbyists. Amateur writers can find an audience even if they can't find a publisher or work in the business. The experience of communicating with others is the attraction of the blogosphere. Money's a bonus.
Only five years ago, the progressive political blogosphere was still predominately a gathering place for amateur (that is, unpaid or barely paid) journalists and activists unattached to existing media companies and advocacy organizations. Those days are almost completely over. Now, the progressive blogosphere is almost entirely professionalized, and inextricably linked to existing media companies and advocacy organizations.
Bowers is assuming the progressive blogosphere consists only of prominent blogs, so when they are co-opted by the larger media, the progressive blogosphere is dead. Except for all the blogs who continue to exist, blissfully unaware that they have been bagged, tagged and declared dead as a doornail. We Americans tend to consider something valuable only if it makes us money, but for someone who wants and needs to write and be read by others, nothing is more valuable than the chance to do just that.
[Cool zombie picture from here.]
Sounds like guys at a country club bar pronouncing on the end of injustice as they give orders to minimum wage workers.
Bowers has written a few posts with this general theme. Blue Gal memorably eviscerated one of them. Mike Finnegan included the Bowers post in his roundup (although I don't think he agrees with Bowers), and my comment over there was:
Much of Bowers' post is pretty good, but "Amateur Blogosphere, RIP" is an awfully stupid title that stinks of link bait. He writes "I want to make it clear that I know there are still "amateur" independent blogs around" (duh) but then later writes "RIP to the amateur progressive blogosphere." Both cannot be true. He admits as much later down in his comment thread: "I guess I shouldn't say they are "over," just that they have been relegated to the sidelines in the 'sphere, after being the main attraction for a while." Dude, then write that, and stop the silly "RIP blogosphere" crap.
I like some of Bowers' stuff, but this is hardly the first time he's done this – he's a got a huge blind spot to the fact that many (most) bloggers aren't blogging to try to leverage it into a MSM gig, even if they wouldn't mind getting paid. I'm happy to see Nate Silver get paid, just as I was when Benen, Greenwald and others got their gigs. (Rachel Maddow's jump to her own show on MSNBC was similar.) But where does C&L consider itself on the Bowers scale, or where would he put it? What about Hullabaloo, Crooked Timber, Obsidian Wings, Sadly No, Balloon Juice, the Poor Man Institute, Blue Gal, driftglass and many other blogs, including many featured at MBR? Aren't silly, inaccurate "trend" stories the province of MSM anyway? Aren't sweeping, counterfactual pronouncements the province of college freshmen? It's a shame, because Open Left does put out some good posts, and some of Bowers' work is solid. But anyone can be "provocative" by saying something silly, and I'd read Bowers more often if he focused more on accuracy – like the many "amateur" bloggers on my regular reading list.
The right supports all kinds of writing--the "intellectuals," the rabble-rousers, the news aggregators, the comic writers. All spread the message and keep the troops entertained. How many times have we been told how entertaining and funny Rush Limbaugh, the great satirist, is?
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