There was an interesting article in the FT this morning titled Blogs get the old-media habit. The main drift of the article is that some of the bigger blogs are becoming more and more like media companies. The example they give is Huffington Post a politics blog which was set up by journalist Adrianna Huffington in 2005 and which now employs 43 people including journalists, editors and ad-sales staff. They claim 3.5m uniques per month.
We are seeing a similar story unfold at Techcrunch which employs multiple people, is active in multiple geographies and has expanded its services beyond company reviews (check out Deep Jive Interests for a full discussion). Closer to home Sam Sethi’s Blognation has set out from home to be much more than a blog right from the start.
At the same time more traditional media companies are all adding blogs to their portfolio. Indeed blogs are a key part of their online strategy, with the comments sections generating lots of page views and ad revenues. The Guardian, CNN and ZDNet all run multiple successful blogs that I have linked to from here before and just before I started writing this post I found myself on the FT blog reading about Joost (as an aside, for some reason nobody comments on the FT blog).
So blogs and old media are converging, and I guess we can expect to see more deals like AOL’s acquisition of Weblogs as traditional media companies make more moves into this area.
Blogs have been great for news. Instant reporting of events coupled with comments and the ability to quickly and easily correct errors has taken consumption of news to a new level. The convenience of RSS readers and the way they enable quick skimming of hundreds of posts has also been important.
So if big blogs are becoming a part of the traditional media mix, what of little blogs like this one?
Most are very clearly not media businesses – I don’t write TheEquityKicker to make money directly, but rather to facilitate my other activities in life – ie being a VC. Fred Wilson captured this well in a recent post discussing whether VCs should blog:
[Blogging is] a huge benefit to our business. Of course it brings incremental deal flow, but it also filters the deal flow and makes it more targeted and more relevant
And its a great way to learn about emerging technologies. Check out the comments to my andreessen post yesterday or my post on AIR last week. You can’t buy that kind of education and I get it every day for free
And I’m sure it is similar with the millions of other small blogs – they do a little bit to help the author get on in life.
So some blogs have gone mainstream, but the thriving mass of activity in smaller blogs is still something new and different. It seems to me that the world would be an easier place to understand if we had different words for these very different types of activity.