Blogs Killed the Journalism Star

Well, actually, not really.  But I’ve been thinking about journalism and blogs this week, for three reasons.

First, I received a couple comments and then a personal email regarding a post that I wrote earlier in the week.  The correspondence came from a friend who is also an academic, and she challenged the lack of sophistication in my post, saying that I was slinging around terminology in a sloppy manner.  In an email response I agreed, and then went on to say that blogging is a medium that is different-in-kind than the kind of work she’s used to doing.  I then joked that I hoped she wouldn’t have the same criticism of my dissertation!

Next, I read this piece by my favorite blogger, Andrew Sullivan.  Andrew really has been a shaping force in the blogging medium.  In has Atlantic essay, he argues that the blogging form is still evolving, but that it is turning out to be a uniquely postmodern form of communication, one that lends itself to quick, timely, opinionated thoughts.

Money quote: “For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”

Sullivan goes on to argue that traditional daily journalism (e.g., daily newspapers) and long-form journalism (The Atlantic, The New York Time Sunday Magazine) become more relevant and more important in this era.  Blogging merely represents a new facet in the evolving constellation of media.  Really, I urge you to read Sullivan’s whole essay if blogs are a part of your life.

Finally, I read this post by Jeff Jarvis on the death of newspaper journalism.  I have a great affinity for daily newspaper journalism, in that my grandfather rose from copy boy to executive editor of the Minneapolis Tribune (all without a college degree), and one of my good friends is a journalist at a daily.  Jarvis takes on the conventional wisdom of the day that says that blogs and craigslist have killed newspapers.  Not so fast, he says.  What is killing newspapers is the lack of imagination among journalists.

Money quote: “No, the essence of the problem is that we thought the internet represented just a new gadget and not a fundamental change in society, the economy, and thus journalism.”

As I prepare to move my blog over to Beliefnet in coming weeks, am thinking about exactly how I see blogging and my role in the blogosphere — particularly among those who are interested in reading about God and spirituality and church and religion.  It will be, I am sure, an evolving conversation.

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  • Hey Tony, you know I’ve thought a little bit about this subject, so we can talk more at length at a later date, but my initial response/reaction to your blog move to Beliefnet is this: The medium affects the message. So it may still be your blog, but within the context of Beliefnet (rather than it will put different parameters on the content you write, based on the expectations of the audience on Beliefnet vs. the expectations of the audience on

    So I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on faith and church and all that over on Beliefnet, but I hope you’ll still have a space (either or Facebook or somewhere) that you can still write blog posts about, well, blogging (like this one!) 😉

  • I’m also curious about the decision to move to

  • sam

    I see your internal battle… blog is personal reflection of today’s thoughts. Books/dissertations/articles are based on these thoughts, but are buffeted with some academic integrity/research/editing (let’s hope so, anyway)…

    So, in this sense context is important. I assume most people reading my blog (and yours) know that blogs are “quick, timely, opinionated thoughts,” but maybe they don’t know. Maybe we have assumed too much and are not re-framing our readers to the raw medium that is the blogosphere. If we were able to re-frame each reader’s perspective, we could manage their expectations, and limit the anger that comes from their unmet expectation.

    My vote is to keep blogging your raw thoughts, opinions and emotion and let your books be a medium for a deeper, well-thought out arguments/statements/conversation. Keep on!

  • Blogging as “thinking out loud”. I like it.

  • As a journalist at a daily newspaper, there is a veritable TON that I could say on this subject, but I’ll keep it to this:

    1) In an ideal world where media owners are not greedy, dailies would not die because long-term and in-depth coverage of stories, especially local, is integral to society and the betterment of it. (Of course, greed is overtaking, management is floundering and confused by the scope of the internet, and “news” has become “generating hits” rather than covering what matters.)

    2) Blogs are invaluable, but it’s unfortunate if the public looks to blogs for news. Blogs are helpful, entertaining sources of information and opinion but should be seen merely as tools to see a bigger picture. Being immediate and emotive, I’d say that many blogs are never even fact-checked. Editors at newspapers and magazines put the fear of god in journalists should a mistake be made in print. An independent blogger doesn’t necessarily have such scruples.

    3) From my experience, it is not the lack of imagination of journalists that is killing newspapers, it is the fact that media owners are slashing budgets, focusing on gimmicks to make money and thus tying the hands of journalists trying to do quality issue reporting. “There’s no budget.” So a reporter does a story on his/her own time. Then, “There’s no space.” Or worse yet, “Our core reader doesn’t care about that.” Our core reader is evidently very interested in sports and scantily clad women.

    4) I doubt anyone has read this far (totally fine), but I look forward to reading Tony’s blog no matter where it appears. Knowing Tony, the only factor that will change is the address. He doesn’t sell out his words.

  • Pingback: so, waaroor gaan blogging? « Teologie in die Virtuele Wêreld()

  • Tony,

    Sorry to advertise on your site, but it you know of anyone needing to get back into blogging, some people I know are making November a BLOGOFF month ( It is designed to get people back into it, who have been away for too long.



  • Here’s the untold story of modern media.

    Newspapers still make a lot of money. They are profitable. The problem is they used to be mega-profitable, cash cows.

    A newspaper publisher friend used to boast that his papers made 30% profit a year. Big newspaper chains routinely had profits in the 20% range.

    That lead to a journalism bubble, not unlike the current housing bubble. Companies overpaid for papers, taking out huge loans, assuming they’d make 20% profit.

    When revenue dropped, mostly because of Craigslist and other losses in advertising- along with, the profits dropped.
    And all of a sudden those papers were left with loans they could not afford.

    Journalists have some right to complain, and says, look, we didn’t create this mess. Most of us, however, didn’t pay attention to the business side, so we aren’t completely blameless.

    Blogs are important, and so are websites. But almost none of them make any money, or are sustainable. And most can’t exist without a print product, or at least print journalists, churning out that content.

    What we all need –bloggers and ink stained wretches alike– is for someone to invent a profitable form of online advertising.

  • Daniel

    Question? With all the conspiracy theories, why would anyone want to give such undisciplined views into your inner life as would be certain when one blogs every week? I sincerely doubt that politicians wouldn’t have some kind of editor in chief ghost writing even if they had a blog. Not to mention the inane networking and outright lying people do so they can maintain some semblance of confidentiality in therapy groups. Which can never be guaranteed!

    P.S. Now everyone knows why I don’t have a blog.