John Boy Hawkins Gots ‘dem Cosmic Conservative Blogosphere Blues
John Hawkins of Right Wing News seems to be singing the blues over his own prediction of the pending death of the conservative blogosphere. While the various observations he shares may be more or less correct, I don't think they amount to the phenomenon he predicts and am actually incredibly optimistic regarding most all forms of Right side media, new and old, including blogging. I also wouldn't be surprised to learn conservative blogging, as I define it, always has been and always will be more substantial than liberal blogging.
The Slow, Painful Coming Death Of The Independent, Conservative Blogosphere
Find a way to dramatically increase the size of your blog, expand into multiple websites that together are big, hook up with someone who’s already big, or accept that there isn’t much of a future in a small, niche market for you. Maybe that sounds a little grim, but unless something changes, independent conservative bloggers who haven’t already made it big don’t have a bright future.
I think John is missing the bigger picture and I've never accepted much of what some call blogging today as actual independent conservative blogging – which is not to say it isn't conservative, or Right-side media, valuable, or a positive thing. For me, pure blogging will always be one guy, or gal launching their own platform to write, rant, or whatever it is they might choose to do with it.
The term may be serviceable to describe the explosive growth in paid on-line pundits and journalists; however, what that might say, or not say, about actual blogging is another matter. John doesn't offer any data to demonstrate growth, shrinkage, or fluctuations in the numbers of pure bloggers, Left or Right, over the years. I suspect some people start them, some quit them and the beat goes on. That's a wonderful thing. But it needn't be a ticket to the big time to be deemed successful. In my view, the blogosphere is and has always been important due to its mass, long-tail, or number of voices, however small, in aggregation – and not because this, or that site grew an audience.
To me, that's professional Right-side new media and from Hot Air, to Human Events, to Breitbart – where I work – it's still growing. So, what's the bitch? It's the big picture that matters most in the long term. Let's take a real quick look at that.
The Right built up a substantial Beltway-based information network post-Reagan. Realizing they were at a disadvantage, the Left's largest donors came together, first as the Phoenix Group in 2004, to use technology and big bucks to build their own infrastructure. We know it today as TPM, CAP, MMfA and others. I first wrote about it five years ago in 2006. Keep in mind, none of this has anything to do with pure grassroots blogging, at least as I define it.
The Hill: One source at the DNC with direct knowledge of the agenda said that the Phoenix Group had three specific goals at the outset. It wants to create liberal think tanks, training camps for young progressives and media centers. Despite the general recognition that progressives are several years behind conservatives, liberal activists are confident that technology will help them close the gap. “Technology may allow us to do in a few years what it took the other side 40 years,” the DNC source said.
If I've been hard on Beltway-based, Right-side new media outlets over the years, it's largely because they've done a poor job of opening themselves up to indie bloggers through links and such. Their efforts have been more an expansion of what's old, as opposed to anything new, efficient, or highly-effective and it continues to speak more to inside the Beltway types, than the grassroots, or a broader America. So, I've always taken a screw them mentality. If they don't appreciate us as bloggers, and they mostly don't except for wanting links, why bother with them?
With a few exceptions, they've also continued to hire talent from the same old establishment channels they've always used – rather than look at bloggers as resources. Except for exporting the same crap they've been publishing on dead trees for years to the Internet and constantly pimping it to bloggers for links, while ignoring some good work by many of those same bloggers, they've done nothing except seek to expand their own brand, and or donor base at the expense of any blogosphere they never have understood very well. And their often antiquated real world infrastructure continues to waste valuable Right-side donor dollars. It's more corporatist, than it is grassroots, or conservative, and if it mostly died tomorrow, the real benefactor would likely be Indie blogs and bloggers.
All that said, Salem has done its part with Hot Air, Human Events hired John Hayward, Breitbart exists today and is only beginning, as does Pajamas Media, and some groups like AFP, Freedom Works and others are doing things to encourage a broader blogosphere, so it's ongoing.
But when it comes to what John seems to be lamenting, that lone, sometimes howling voice of the true Indie blogger – as I see myself when writing here at my site and not for Breitbart Media, it will always be something of a haphazard, hard to make a living effort done for love of something, perhaps America or a particular political ideology, for most. It's not a bug it's a feature, as Instapundit might say. But it's damned important that people do it and should be to you for its own sake if you plan on staying with it for any length of time; otherwise, you'll only get discouraged and go away. There's nothing new in that.
All that said, ultimately, if you're good at it, there are more options to pursue writing professionally today as a result of any exposure you may receive and I expect the future will provide still others. Consequently, to me, the future for Right-side media, overall, remains bright. From Talk Radio, to professional outlets and Indie bloggers, we each and all represent an effort to further democratize media through technology. And because I believe the American population as a whole is more conservative, or libertarian, than it is far Left, the more the merrier.
If you're doing it – keep doing it. And if you're contemplating jumping in – then just do it. My advice would be, don't spend too much time navel gazing about it. You might end up with little more than lint in your eye. And I hate it when that happens!