Scott Karp, the managing director of research and strategy for Atlantic Media (which publishes Atlantic Monthly, among other things) gets on a bit of a rant about bloggers and the “mainstream” media. For a guy whose blog is called Publishing 2.0, I find Scott’s vituperation about blogging a little over the top. Yes, it’s true that the blogosphere can be a bit of a funhouse-mirror sometimes, and it’s also true that some zealots take the open-media, everyone-is-a-content-creator thing a little too far.
Scott is right when he says that many people are drowing in media, and are looking for filters and ways of sorting out what is necessary or useful to them and what is not — and he is also right that tools such as Technorati.com and RSS are not easy enough to use for the novice (not yet). It’s also true that many people will continue to use newspapers and other traditional media as filters in that sense — I hope they do, since I work for a newspaper. The media outlets that succeed will be the ones that seize that opportunity most aggressively.
At the same time, however, I think blogs are becoming — and will increasingly become — the filters for people on subjects they are interested in, whether we (or they) call them blogs or not. If you’re interested in dogs, or childbirth, or local news about mountain biking, are you going to seek out the traditional media to find resources or points of view? Unlikely. What will probably happen is someone you know will mention a blog that is written by someone who is equally obsessed with that topic, and which gathers all the information and links you might want.
That is competition for the newspaper, and the radio and the television — heck, it’s competition for books and needlepoint, for that matter. And as Lloyd of the Guardian points out, there’s opportunity there for traditional media, something Matt McAlister has some thoughts about too.
Just came across another of Scott’s posts on his blog, which indicates that his views are actually fairly close to mine — in other words, that “new” media such as blogs and traditional media need to collaborate, intermingle, cross-pollinate etc.
His post addresses an interesting discussion by Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine, who wonders whether a BusinessWeek magazine cover story would have been better if it had been open to contributions while it was being written.
I would argue that it would have been better in almost every way — not just as an article, but in terms of the long-term, spinoff effects of the process as well, although Stephen Baker says we aren’t quite there yet and there are reasons why media outlets need to keep stories secret.