The occasionally irascible but always entertaining billionaire sports-team owner and media gadfly Mark Cuban (hey, that would look good on a business card, wouldn’t it?) has a great post today about blogs and the traditional media. His first point: “A blog is media.” Simple, and yet many people miss that one completely, or go around talking about “the blogosphere” as though it’s a single giant entity, which drives many (including Jeff Jarvis) crazy. Say it with me, everyone: the blogosphere is “made of people,” just like the stuff in that great old campy horror movie Soylent Green.
In his post, Mark notes that:
“In traditional media, you are first defined by your medium. There is some constraint to the physical or digital definition of the medium the content is delivered on or by, that for the most part determines how you are perceived. There is a cost vs time vs interest vs access series of constraints that determines who your audience is, how you reach them and what they expect of you.”
In other words, newspaper comes to the door in the morning and is read (or not) at the table or on the bus, radio happens now and then in cars or during dinner, TV is on in the morning and after dinner but rarely during the day, and so on. Newspapers have to print stuff on rolled-out sections of dead trees and then load it onto trucks, radio has to beam stuff from tower to tower, TV has to pay anchors obscene sums of money for hairspray and plastic surgery, etc. etc.
The other big point, however, as Mark puts it, is:
“In a nutshell, blogging is personal. Which is really where the paths of blogging and traditonal media diverge. Traditional media has become almost exclusively corporate while blogging remains almost exclusively personal… Sure, there are bloggers that want to make money from their blogs [but] they are the infinitesimal minority. 99pct of blogs are about what someone has to say. 99 pct of traditional media is about making money.”
In typical Cuban-esque fashion, I think that hits the traditional metal fastening device right on the head. Blogs are personal, traditional media is corporate. Are there columnists and stories and people within the regular media who achieve some personal connection to readers or listeners? Of course there are — all the way from Howard Stern to your favourite columnist at the local paper. But it’s harder. Blogs make that a whole lot easier, and therein lies their power.
One interesting subtext to all this, of course, is that the personal power of his blog has gotten Mark Cuban into trouble before — including just yesterday.
Update: Jeff Jarvis has taken issue with some of what Mark said in a post at Buzzmachine, and Mark has responded in the comments. And Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 has an interesting take on Mark’s post, about the differences between “vocational” and “avocational” media. Interestingly enough, Mark has also followed up his post with another one on what newspapers do better than the Internet.