The Business Of Blogging Is Ruining The Medium

I know some bloggers are going to take offense to this post, but over the past few years, it’s my opinion that the business of blogging has really ruined the medium. It used to be that many bloggers were writing every day because they wanted to tell a story and had passion for what they were covering. But these days, fewer bloggers are telling stories and are simply re-hashing news from a press release. While I am a blogger, I’m also a reader, and just like everyone else I like reading in-depth analysis about many subjects. It use to be that bloggers were interested in really offering insight into news, trends and technology and took a great deal of time to research a subject and really convey a story to the reader. Many posts use to tell the entire story from both sides and would go into details on what the potential impact could be on the market. But today, most blog posts don’t tell stories, don’t give the full picture and too many bloggers write for headlines. The trend I keep seeing in the RSS feeds I follow is that the vast majority of bloggers are more concerned with getting their post up first, as opposed to getting it right, or providing any real analysis into the subject. Too many bloggers write for headlines, keep their posts under 800 words and many times, only care about page counts.

I understand that’s how the blogging business works, but that’s not a model that can sustain itself in the long run. Bloggers want to fight with other bloggers over who broke the news first, how good their sources are or who got an “exclusive”. I think using the term “exclusive” to define any blog post is just silly. While someone might be the first one to write about the news, it does not mean they are the only one to know about it. While there are many news stories that are big that every blogger always wants to follow, many times I think they write something up just because they feel pressure that if they don’t, they will be seen as not being up on the news. I don’t agree with that pressure. This is why if you are like me, and monitor 100+ RSS feeds, you’ll literally see two dozen posts all on the same news item, each day. The problem with that is 95% of them don’t tell you anything different than what the others said. Most of them don’t take the time to do anything more than report on the news, but provide no real analysis. I know some bloggers feel that as long as they talk to someone at the company who put the news out and get a quote from them that they did their job. But if you look at the quote, many times it’s the same quote you see in posts by other bloggers as well. It’s simply a canned quote. You’ll also notice that when it comes to new product announcements, many bloggers all use the same images, provided to them by the vendor releasing the product. This tells me that most bloggers never got hands-on with the product, never took their own screen shots, didn’t take the time to use it and really have no insight into how the product works. Of course this is not the case when it comes to gadgets, but look at just how few reviews are out there of non-hardware items. I suspect some bloggers might respond to this post by saying that’s the nature of the blogging business. They have to get a lot of content online each day and don’t have time to write long pieces or really tell a story. They are going to say that it is a volume based business and that’s just the reality of the market. While I understand that’s how the blogging market has evolved, the real question to ask is if that’s good for business? To me, that kind of writing is not how you capture and maintain loyal readers. Blogging is suppose to be about the community and getting feedback from readers. But how many of the blogs you read even allow you to comment on a post without having to register with the website or create an account? That defeats the whole purpose of having blog to begin with and is one of the reasons I see no comments on many of the blogs I read. These blog sites need to make it easy to comment, not harder. I’m a reader of blogs more than a blogger myself, since blogging is not my full-time job. I blog because I enjoy it, I love the online video industry and more importantly, I enjoy trying to tell stories and getting feedback from readers. Sure, I could be better, my grammar needs work and I have no editor for my blog. But as a reader, I wish there were more in-depth stories on the online video space, the vendors in the industry and the impact that business, technology and content will have on the market. I’m interested to hear what others think on the subject.

  • Tanner Boyle

    What does Henry Blodgett say about this?

  • Anon

    I guess they should adopt your strategy. Thoughtful blogs with neatly embedded controversy every now and then :)

  • http://marcellus.tv preetam mukherjee

    This plays into the noise vs. signal discussion- I think even Arrington talked about this on TC the other day(http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/13/the-end-of-hand-crafted-content/)
    Analysis is being swapped for volume, objectivity is being swapped for visibility, the business of blogging is definitely ruining the medium, and naturally, the medium is completely ruining the message.
    [for your readers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Medium_is_the_Massage]
    Urgh.

  • http://www.datacenterknowledge.com Rich Miller

    As blogging evolves into a more important online news medium, it will struggle with many of the same issues newspapers and TV news organizations have faced. Pack journalism is as old as the hills. Blogs rewriting press releases isn’t much different from 100 newspapers running the same AP story, or TV news channels all running the same sound bite.
    Many blogs need to cover the bases on “paper of record” items for their audience, since not all their readers look at 100-plus feeds.
    My belief is that the online news publications that succeed will be the ones that distinguish themselves with original reporting and offer genuine value and insight that can make them a go-to source in their area of expertise. If there’s news in the CDN sector, I come and read Dan’s blog. There’s lots of insightful news in some of those other RSS feeds as well.
    Filtering out the worthwhile writing and reporting is a challenge. The signal-to-noise problem is part of the shakeout in the transition to web-based news models. It’ll be messy for a while.

  • http://www.rikinontheweb.com Rikin

    The trend you described of claiming exclusivity and pushing out a story just to be first is the tabloid model for blogging. It’s been around for over a century now and although the medium is changing I don’t think the practice will.
    With that said, some enjoy tabloids and there will always be a market for it. For those of us who don’t like tabloids we tend to just glance at the headlines and move on to check out our groceries. New models will enable the same behavior online.
    Things are changing quickly, and sure the signal to noise ratio is imbalanced, but there are plenty of blogs out there that are pure quality reads. They’re just not shouting out and begging for your attention.
    We all get disillusioned sometimes by the pricks out their looking to make a quick buck and lacking any passion. Collectively they’ll always be around but individually they’ll burn out soon. I’m with you on this one, I’d rather keep writing good content for the long haul.

  • Rob Green

    Quality writing is an art. Quality writing about timely and relevant topics is even harder to find.
    I think that’s why most bloggers can’t sustain their blog and/or just aren’t that interesting.
    You do a good job Dan – keep it up.

  • http://www.johnpaulaguiar.com John Paul

    Great Post, and I agree that blogging has become more of a business opp then what it was originally meant to be.
    I am a blogger and I write to be helpful to my readers. Sometimes my post are very simple how to’s but that’s ok since some of my readers are newbies that need a simple hold my hand post.
    I make money as a blogger and I do all I need to market and buld my blog to make money and be helpful.
    For me The fine line is writing good content that is helpful, stay on a posting schedule and drive traffic.