Bloggers and money — the eternal debate

Wow, has a few months gone by already? Time for another “blogging vs. money” debate. This time, it’s courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, which decided to cover off the topic by having Alan Meckler of Jupitermedia debate Jason Calacanis of Weblogs Inc. — who sold his blog network to America Online and therefore presumably knows a thing or two about money. My favourite part of the discussion is when Jason mentions that Meckler makes $242,000 a year, which he found out by looking it up on Yahoo Finance (that is so old school — everyone knows Google Finance is the best). And my second favourite part is how the WSJ uses a headshot of Calacanis that makes him look completely deranged.

As Paul Kedrosky points out, this debate is already old and tired, and the WSJ debate adds virtually nothing to it. As he puts it, “When Jason Calacanis seems like he is the sober, sensible, and empirically-minded one in an argument, you know something’s awry.” Well said, Paul. Om Malik also has a nice line in his post, when he says this debate is “as important as arguing why April comes before May.” B.L. Ochman has a great take on it as well, and so does Cynthia Brumfield of IPDemocracy.

The last time this kind of theme came around, it was spurred by a couple of pieces in the mainstream or traditional media, including one in the Financial Times, and an even more shallow take on the topic at Slate. I wrote this response at the time, and I would stand by it.

As more than one person has already pointed out, whether blogs can make money or not misses the point in a lot of ways. And as I mentioned in a comment on Paul Kedrosky’s blog, the ones that were deliberately designed to make money are often the worst ones out there — and some of the ones in Jason’s stable would fall into that category (some thoughts from Jeremy Wright of b5media along those lines and a response from me can be found in Paul’s comments).

For more on this topic, there’s Scott Karp and Stowe Boyd and Mark Evans. As Mark points out (warning: shameless plug) he and I are involved in organizing a conference about these and other blog and Web 2.0-related topics, one which everyone with any interest in the subject should feel an almost overpowering compulsion to attend. Paul Kedrosky will be there, and so will Jeremy Wright. My fellow organizer and all-around marketing whiz kid Stuart MacDonald has his own thoughts about money and blogs on the mesh blog.

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