The fashionable explanation is that “Twitter and Facebook have passed them by.” Hogwash. There has certainly been a consolidation of blogs for survival at places like Daily Kos and Firedoglake, but that means traffic has gone up, and not down. If it was still possible to keep blogs afloat, news outlets (blogs and otherwise) wouldn’t be dropping like flies.The reason increasing numbers of blogs can’t keep the lights on is simple – Google. As I wrote on Bytegeist recently, news advertising revenues (both online and off) have tanked since 2000, and that money is going straight to Google, who passes pennies on to news outlets for every dollar they receive. Every news outlet from the New York Times on down is struggling in its wake. Because Google has eliminated the competition by crushing it or swallowing it up with nary an antitrust peep from the FTC, news outlets (including blogs) are forced to take whatever they want to give.
Premium advertising has historically gone for between $8 and $12 per CPM (thousand impressions) at online news sites, and Google charges similar rates. But last month at the height of election advertising, when ad revenues used to be at their highest and provide the money that political news sites would live on for the rest of the year, Google passed on a mere .42 cents per CPM to FDL and many other outlets.This part of Freedlander’s article gave me the biggest chuckle:What’s left of the Netroots say they aren’t finished yet. They point to the handful of candidates for office this year that they got behind, like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, as proof of their relevance—never mind that most of the Democratic establishment lined up behind them as well.Freedlander doesn’t say who said that, but both Warren and Baldwin — candidates that the netroots certainly have stood by — have refused to even take the calls of advertising representatives of the blogs. And you can add Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown to that list. (And, as John Amato has noted, the unions too.) If you’re giving money to these candidates, their ad dollars are going straight to Google in exclusive deals through their expensive DC consultants — many of whom mark the ad rates up 100% and skim the bulk of your donation rather than buy direct from publishers.
-- has always been opaque to people like me....
As a free agent existing at the outer galactic rim of blogging, I am vaguely aware that these interaction go on, just as they go on behind the closed doors of Liberal radio and Liberal teevee. But they come into my little hut through the internet's heating ducts and coconut wireless, like someone else's mommy and daddy arguing about divorce property settlements in the penthouse upstairs.
Since I started doing fundraisers, my business plan has been pretty simple: write and Photoshop like a fiend and then, along the way, periodically ask people to support what I do. No ads. No strategy where I kick you one day and ask you for cash the next. No slides shows of nipple slips and celebrity diets designed for no purpose other than to drive up my hit-counts and increase my ad revenue. No opaque financial dependencies that you don't know about but that constrain my ability to write what I please and whatever I please.
Me, from 2010:
I have watched the tides go in and out on blogging. Watched the organic material of the Great Primordial Blogging Sea organize itself into ever larger, more complex organisms, with ever more complex metabolisms and business plans, which -- when you pop the hood -- still depend heavily or entirely on "aggregating" something called "content".
In much the same way a blue whale "aggregates" krill :-)
Me? I'm still Tom Bombadil...
Since Day One I've been here on the edge of town, running my single-shingle, pie-and-coffee shop , serving my own hot, home-cooked essays with a scoop or two of hand-made graphics.
One post a day, every day, more or less.
Sometimes rock stars drop in, zipping between between here and there. I welcome their patronage, but they get what's on the menu like everybody else.
Sometimes tiny mobs of angry people show up.
Eventually they go away.
Then, after the transient ups and downs, life goes on.
One post a day.
More or less.
And while the service is sometimes sloppy ("Waiter, there's an apostrophe in my s'oup!") like 'em or not, they're mine.
In the end, this little blog of mine may be a poor thing.What I do isn't "Candide", but it is an honest stick, and if I can sometimes hit the sweet spot between the sensibilities of Bradbury ("You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.") and Nin ("The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.") then I can step away from the keyboard feeling I've done my job.
But it is mine own.