More on Blogs, The Long Tail and Following vs Leading

I can’t help myself. I have to keep this discussion about blogging going.

Is blogging just the end result of someone’s input into a Content Management System. Of course it is. So what. You could point a URL to a daily post in a discussion forum. It would have far better interactivity than a blog, and would be just as easy to post as often as the author would like. Does that make the output purely a forum post ? Or for those old school among us, putting up a page on a website could be a blog, a column, a report, whatever. The manner of how you post something to the web is not even worth discussing. A blog is a blog is a blog.

If you blog, regardless of what software you use, you are a blogger and what you produce is a blog. If you want to call yourself a columnist, so be it. If you are a reporter in a 1 page internet only publication, yes you are.

From there, only one question comes up. Why. Why ? Why do you do what you do. Is it because:

You get paid to do it ?

Because you want to promote something or to promote yourself ?

Because you want to start a discussion ?

Because you want to communicate with customers, fans or ??

Because its a way to say whats on your mind ?

Because you want to make money from it ?

I’m sure there are other reasons to communicate on the web. What software you use, even whether you use video, text and/or pictures, really doesn’t matter.

What matters is why you do what you do.

For most of us, we start on the furthest reaches of the long tail of all content. To make money from whatever it is we produce is not only difficult, its near impossible. To get off the long tail is near impossible as well. Only a few will ever find their way to a point of generating enough consumers of our content to have any choice in whether we monetize or influence a material number of people. Others of us will still be in the long tail, but have influence in a small verticial segment important only to those who already know us, or come to know us. Its possible to be a big player in a small pool, and get paid for it, still reside on the long tail.

The hope by all on the longtail is that the “quality” of the publication will garner enough consumers to move them off. Like the artist whose art is better, the band or musician whose music is better, the producer, director or actor whose video is better. Everyone hopes that quality of content is the final arbiter of attraction and success.

The worst part of it all is that when you are on the long tail, it takes a lot of money or luck to get off and 99.99pct , never get off. Which is exactly the definition of the longtail.

Thats for individuals.

For corporations who publish on the web (as opposed to aggregate 3rd party content), again, regardless of what content management software they use, or what they call themselves, the longtail is death. If you are a blogger, and you work for a major media company, you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth. You are granted a platform with traffic. Thats the good news. The bad news is that you also have ratings. If you can’t hold your traffic or build upon it, you better hope you generate sufficient value in other places, or your days of publishing on the web may be numbered. For those of you who haven’t noticed, paid bloggers do come and go from media websites if they don’t produce. But wait, there is worse news.

The media companies that have traffic foundations and can dual purpose people so that they can publish off line and online come with their own set of problems. They are paddling as fast as they can to retain their offline businesses. Newspapers, to continue to use them as an example, are pushing as hard as they can to sell papers and retain advertisers. For those who think that a newspaper is just like a newsletter, you have never been a paperboy.

To try to maximize online traffic and resultant revenue, newspapers turned to blogging. Saul Hansell of the NYTimes commented that blogs are used uniquely and thoughtfully by NYTimes reporters to communicate new information and create discussion. That’s great. It’s a way for the paper to drive readers to their website, keep them as readers and hopefully add more readers. It’s using whatever content management system they use to give more value to readers. Wonderful.

Unfortunately for them, they are now in the same old grind that they are in with the newspaper business. Their articles, I mean blogs, vs everyone elses’ blogs. They hope that readers believe that their content is better and that brings them back. They hope like the new TV show following the hit, that they can retain audience. An approach which puts them on the exact same content treadmill as even the smallest blogger. . For some on the NYTimes website, as with any and every other newspaper website, they will manage to stand out from the crowd. The majority will not. They will bump their way down to where everyone else is. Such is the nature of the content business. No matter what anyone at the NY Times thinks.

That is the endgame I see for newspapers that publish complimentary content on their website. You can call it blogging. You can even call it something else. The point I didnt make clear enough in my previous post, is that it has to be something else. No matter the quality of the writer, its just another stab at an audience in a medium where there are no barriers to entry. Its just one more example of the newspaper business following everyone else onto the web and doing exactly what everyone else is doing, but expecting they will be better because they are “The big paper”. Thats a huge mistake.

Call me crazy, as many out there have, but I would have made every effort to be different in a way that leverages brains, technology and size. I would have sat down and tried to figure out the answer to the question “What leverages our strengths and pre empts every blogger out there so that people perceive blogging as the low end and our presentation as the future of the medium”

You wouldn’t have to get it right out of the gate, but you could send a message that you are striving for more and those with “merely a content management system for blogs” will not be able to do what you do.

This is the bias that comes from 25 years in the technology business. A feature that anyone can add is not a sustainable differentiation. Since you can easily add it anytime, like everyone else, instead, always look for what can set you apart and pre empt the competition

Or you can following the pack. The longtail is there waiting for those who do

48 thoughts on “More on Blogs, The Long Tail and Following vs Leading

  1. Everyone blogs for their own purpose. Some blogs are obviously more useful than others.

    Comment by lawnbott -

  2. Seems to me that spin, propaganda, deceit, and public perception is the game plan.


    Comment by digg this article -

  3. come on, mark. put up or clam up.

    if you\’re going to take potshots at big media — e.g. at the newspaper publishers who you suggest should have \”made every effort to be different in a way that leverages brains, technology and size. I would have sat down and tried to figure out the answer to the question \’What leverages our strengths and pre empts every blogger out there so that people perceive blogging as the low end and our presentation as the future of the medium…\’\”) — then you should go for it, man.

    its ridiculous to suggest that newspapers and other media companies aren\’t beating their won brains out trying to differentiate and survive and prosper. of course they are. it\’s so tiring and boring to see all the digital-guru-hotshots imply that the answers are just there if anyone would look. tell us, mark, tell us.

    Comment by insider -

  4. Everyone blogs for a different purpose but everyone wants readership and that can be difficult with so many other blogs that are competing for the same thing. Everything is gravitating towards the internet and much information is found on blogs before the newspaper so I wonder how the newspaper business will survive unless they embrace the change of focusing on the Internet to reach readers.

    Comment by Patricia Beck -

  5. A weblog is exactly that – somebody\’s log on the web. Call it a journal, a diary, a daily entry. Call it whatever you want, just don\’t group them all together and say \”a blog is a blog is a blog.\”

    If you can\’t figure out that today\’s interconnected world has talent in all corners, across all mediums, then you just don\’t get it – like the early naysayers who mocked the internet as a modern-day \”cb radio.\” My point is that we all have room to contribute now, we\’re not constrained by bandwidth or channels or timeslots. Like your TV station.

    Instead of realizing that viewers finally get to choose what content is worthwhile (hence blogs that become popular), Mark Cuban would rather us trust the men in suits at the media companies. But not all of them – just the old timers who think bloggers are a bunch of amateurs.

    Posted at 11:59PM on Mar 17th

    Comment by b2b 91smw -

  6. I think if anyone writes passionately about what they enjoy and know, the readers will come. The readers aren\’t always nice, but they\’ll come.

    Comment by Chris Griffith -

  7. Am I a journalist when I blog? Am I an ptichman selling my wares? Am I a concerned community member spreading talking to my neighbors?

    When I blog on my real estate blog I am a little of all three.

    What\’s most crucial is that I am getting info into the hands of the consumer that isn\’t available elsewhere. I\’m adding to the conversation and helping readers take a step closer to the truth.

    Comment by Geordie Romer -

  8. The WSJ is now calling their blog Real Time Econonmics. They must have read Marks post!!

    Comment by Gregory Rueda -

  9. I know your a businessman but try and suspend the business logic of blogging for 5 seconds and youll see something with \’value\’ here. Blogs are an instantaneous publishing platform. It frees media back to what it was for most of human history – people simply entertaining each other. Same thing for YouTube. Its just now we have a global world. This is such a game shifting thing. Just because the business models for it aren\’t as easy to crack doesnt mean it doesnt have value. How can you not see that?

    Cory Doctorow and Lawrence Lessig are a couple good places for you to start your research into the subject of free media and how it creates so much value in a society. For a media/technology guy, I dont understand how you continue to miss the mark on this by such a wide margin.

    Comment by staypuftman -

  10. With a blog one can be even more personal and subjective than in a newspaper column, people get tired of gramatically \’perfect\’ and almost spiritless classical newspapers articles.

    Comment by Alize Cornet Fan Blog -

  11. I blog because I love to do it, people like to read what I write and I (or at least attempt to) offer VALUE to their lives/businesses/whatever. Yes- I get business from it in the form of blogger-to-blogger referrals and SEO love, but to be quite honest? I would do it even if I didn\’t – just not to the caliber that I do now.

    Comment by Mariana Wagner - Colorado Springs Real Estate Blogger -

  12. I see everyone and their brother trying to capitalize on blogging. Look at Fox News- everyone there has a blog and I find most of them pretty boring. A blog should like Austin said, be used to compliment and expand on what a reporter is covering not tell you how they went out for coffee or promote their show. I think blogs are over used and under utilized. I mean, with a new blog popping up every 7 seconds, how the heck do you compete. My answer is simple- embrace infotainment. All info and not entertainment makes bob a dull blog. Flip that coin and you get fluff. The key to successful blogging and a loyal readership is mixing entertainment with information. Its why I read this blog and hopefully why my readers read mine.

    Comment by Mary McKnight, Real Estate Blogs -

  13. Great question – why I started blogging and why I keep blogging are different and similar – there is a growth on the journey and if it\’s strictly for \”business\” it loses something in the day in day out process. I have learned that I like being in a dynamic environment of thinkers – sort of takes us back to our college days when life held nothing but possiblities

    Comment by Cyndee Haydon -

  14. I think you\’ve got the wrong end of the stick here with your idea that newspapers need to differentiate their content from blogs. This is like saying that Radiohead shouldn\’t call themselves a band because people won\’t be able to tell the difference between them and the guys playing down the street at Bob\’s Beer Barn on Tuesday night.

    If nothing else, the difference is eyeballs, whether those eyeballs come because you\’re posting on the website of New York Times or because you\’re Michael Arrington and lots of people have made TechCrunch a destination.

    Suppose newspapers *aren\’t* any magic thing, and they simply settle in as aggregations of timely web information — like CNet or TechCrunch — with a primary point of differentiation for most of them being that they typically provide a lot of information targeted specifically at a particular locality? What\’s wrong with that?

    We have arrived in the era where the distinctions between blogs, newspapers, and other media are mostly qualitative anyway. Pretending that publishing on a major corporate website is the same as random guys in their pajamas but pressing print and making it show up on somebody\’s doorstep every morning is somehow completely different is just being obtuse.

    Comment by Andy Norris -

  15. Interesting reading from the brainy people @ Wharton: The Experts Vs. The Amateurs – A Tug-of-War Over The Future of Media

    Comment by Andrew W. -

  16. Until someone innovates a way to monetize blogging – it\’s just \”play-time.\” Interesting, fun and sometimes controversial, but still just playtime.

    Comment by Andrew W. -

  17. MARK,

    Excellent stimulation of the dust on that long tail. Whether in personal discussion, paper editorial or public blogging, it has to be something else is the gem that we all seek to either discover, or deliver.

    New constructive insights serendipitously surface from individuals who are not journalists but are part of the story. The ones I would seek, the NYT cannot deliver. There are advantages and disadvantages to the anonymity offered by the internet. Some produces vast amounts of nonsense or is simply recapitulatory, while some produces excellent contribution to our collective comprehension.

    For example, on the lighter side, wouldnt you enjoy reading a detailed and truthful fly on the wall account of Bill Gates drubbing of John Akers and IBM 26 years ago? Some momentous events cannot and will not be recounted. The repercussions would be embarrassing and damaging. Not that anonymity would guarantee truth, because there is always ego processing the retelling however wed get so much closer to authenticity. That would receive my vote for your pre-emptive factor.

    The internet is still in its infancy, and new tools will evolve the methodologies for discovering our personal preferences. We wont always have to rely on the NYT or other authority with vetting sources. Inevitably the cream will float. Money? Thats another matter.

    Comment by James Raider -

  18. the one comment i will make that ive seen that is missed is that there will be a day when the mavs arent the tops of the town. there will be a time when the team is old and bad and maanagement will be making efforts to draw fans, fans are the ones that gain the info and spread the in depth conversations and diaries and blogs that keep the fans interest. When times are lean, teams are the ones that benefit the most from basically the free marketing of their team. when the team is bad, lets use the texas rangers for example, the one thing that has kept the hardcore rangers fans attached to the team is the fans discussion and bonding on a site like newberg report. When a team is good, you can call your shots. Kick every1 out! The team is still in the news. Teams arent good forever. They just arent, and when these teams are bad they have trouble putting butts in seats. I have no doubt that a site like newberg report does nothing but act as a free magnet for the marketing wing of the texas rangers to put those butts in seats. Its short sighted. Your smart enough to know that.

    follow me:
    fans arent a problem team is good, fans write blogs, lots of blogs abound, blogs bond fans to teams in ways the teams themselves cannot, fans are connected to the team like never before, bloggers get banned = less mavs blogs, team is bad, fans are \”mysteriously\” disconnected from the team, seats are hard to sell, team wishes it had more blogs.

    PS: this is the 1st time ive gone to your blog since the blogger ban. it was linked, i dont plan to return. its just morals. and no i dont blog. im just a rangers fan who understands how glad that team is to have a blog that cares, b/c they suck.

    Comment by jayslick -

  19. Mr Jolly, thanks for the clarification. I have noticed that it\’s mostly Times staff writers doing the writing on the blogs. And I\’d bet Cuban knows that, too. And my guess is that the DMN can change MacMahon\’s byline to \”staff writer\” and get him in the clubhouse next week. It\’ll probably happen, too. I think Cuban is trying to prove a point. And I think he\’s correct. It\’s nuts for the DMN to brand their internet writing as blogs. Even more nuts, though, is that bloggers (very good bloggers) out there seem to be asking for the teams to make choices as to who should be let in and who shouldn\’t. What I think is at issue here is where blogging for fun and blogging for profit intersect. Everybody\’s played pretty nicely for a while, but that\’s not going to last much longer. I\’m not really a blogger myself (I try to write occasionally), but I find the media pretty fascinating. Especially as it pertains to sports and the huge shifts taking place.–the-Bloggers.html

    Comment by Chris Dankberg -

  20. I think Ron from Vermont said it best – the problem is not that the newspapers can be \’successful\’ if \’success\’ is how many page hits you get. The problem is, how do you make any money at it?

    Most people\’s attitude about paying to view Weblogs, I mean blogs, is that they already paying more than $20 per month to be on the internet, they don\’t want to pay more on top of that. Add to this the fact that the economy is going into the toilet, and people will be looking to decrease discretionary spending, not add to it.

    ESPN has tried to make their content accessible only to those who have \’insider\’ access by paying a monthly fee, or subscribe to their magazine. It must be successful, they are still doing it. The Boston Globe, on the other hand, seem to have abandoned that type of approach. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    Comment by sidd finch -

  21. To clarify a comment that Chris Dankberg makes, staff writers for The New York Times are writing the blog posts at our web site. Not to get too far afield here, but Play magazine and the op-ed page occasionally hire pure bloggers to write stuff that appears on our site, but they have a different mission. (And thank you, Chris, for the kind words about our site.)

    The point Mark said that he didn\’t make clear enough on his previous post is the point I\’m trying to make about what we are doing: We\’re not doing what everyone else is doing, on the web or, for that matter, in print.

    Focusing only on what we\’re doing regarding blogs is reminiscent of the story of the blind men and the elephant. As Chris notes, our web site is much more than that when viewed as a whole and we continue to assess ways to leverage our strengths in a way to take greater advantage of the digital panaroma.

    Comment by jolly -

  22. Rather than focusing on the semantics of the terms blogging, bloggers, writers, columnists, etc., this entire argument is much simpler than Mark is making it out to be.

    Without fans, sports don\’t exist. As you indicate, fans, through ratings, dictate the success of writers (or bloggers, or whatever they call themselves). The only way for a (______) to establish himself or herself, as you say, is to generate traffic. So compare person A, with multiple degrees in journalism and what you would consider high \”credentials\”, to person B, an average guy with a love and knowledge of sports but no formal education. And person A draws almost no traffic and has no interest in his articles, while person B has high traffic and high interest from fans.

    At this point, these so-called \”credentials\” go out the window. Fans, for whatever reason, have shown that they are more likely to listen to person B than person A. And since fans are the driving force behind sports, person A becomes irrelevant. And the key point, which you miss, is that in order for someone to gain traffic (as person B has), the things that one is writing about MUST be differentiated from other people \”on the long tail\”. This differentiation is inherent in the fact that traffic volume is higher. This is true regardless of the medium of their output or even the content.

    And if the content was to be proven, over time, to be lacking in value or falsely-reported, people would stop reading, and a new so-called \”leader\” would emerge.

    Since sports are for fans, and fans drive traffic and interest, then those writers who appeal most to fans are the ones who should be accepted. You are creating a reverse causality by assuming that those writers with \”credentials\” are the ones who deserve access, as opposed to writers with fan interest. Fan interest should be the driving force behind access, and NOT the other way around.

    Comment by Eric -

  23. Mark:

    If you can honestly look yourself in the mirror and say that you didn\’t ban bloggers like Tim McMahon because of his mention of, then good. But here\’s what the public thinks (not that you care).

    Avery made a horrible decision benching Jason Kidd, and instead of admitting he made a mistake, he tried to DEFEND his decision, and blame the players, like he often does.

    You, like the very good owner and businessman that you are, defended Avery, because dissent in a corporation, no matter of what kind, is bad. Nobody blames you for that.

    Still, fans were ticked. Someone made a website, and Tim thought it was relevant to mention in one of his posts after the game.

    I still don\’t understand why you think banning them is the right thing to do. I get that you don\’t want some random guy who has a Mavs blog getting media credentials, but you are denying people who have earned their education in the field of journalism, and have written hundreds of stories, the right to access, for reasons unknown (those one\’s you mentioned have yet to explain why you would deny ESPN access to your locker room).

    I don\’t see how any good can come of this. End your silly feud, and let the bloggers back in.

    Comment by Patrick -

  24. I\’m not sure that Mark\’s an expert on this, and I\’m certainly not. But what he\’s saying makes an incredible amount of sense. I don\’t own a sports franchise, and if I did, I probably wouldn\’t make a big stink about banning \”bloggers\” from my clubhouse. But I will say that Mark\’s decision is EXACTLY why the NY Times shouldn\’t be calling their reporters bloggers. Where do you draw the line as the organization doing the credentialing? How do you do it? It\’s impossible to give a credential to everybody who wants. But further, to get to what seems to be MC\’s real point, the NY Times (as an example) seems to have real advantages in the size of their audience, their resources – just about everything. I love the NY times video features, and the Times is far better than most papers on the web. I probably spend more time there than any other single site on the web. But I think the point MC is making, why even put a team to make a decision on blogging – call these guys staffed writers. I agree with a free market of information. There are great blogs out there. But Cuban seems to be talking about scale. And an army of bloggers does not scale.

    Comment by Chris Dankberg -

  25. Mark,
    I\’ve watched the discussion from the sideline, and I\’m finally chipping in.

    I come from a largely music and alternative sports based background. When I grew up we didn\’t have blogs, we had zines. That is always to me what a blog is, it\’s not necessarily live, or not-edited/revised or not thought out. It\’s the bottom rung, it\’s the doing things your way, it\’s not being controlled by anyone but you and a few friends, it\’s anti-corporate, it\’s xerox\’d pages that somehow look pretty cool, it\’s using what everyone else could do and standing out.

    Where the major corporations and publications failed is in realising a blog stands out because it is made by someone who is just putting their mind out there, their vision out there. Instead they just saw that blogs are popular so they started incorporating them into their websites. It never should have been called a blog, but it was the trendy term. If some journalist is going to have a blog, I want it to be behind the scenes, away from his day job. Something he can write without having an editor go over it. That would be a journalists blog, not just someone posting on the newspapers website 10 times a day.

    A blog is not everything on the internet, a blog is not an abundance of content, a blog is not live commentary. The big guys latched on and now have to suffer for calling these things blogs, but us bloggers should also put up a fight and tell them to stop dirtying the word blog by slapping it on everything out there.

    Comment by Randall Jenkins -

  26. Most newspaper and other mainstream media reporting about the NBA is surface and boring.
    Most of the best analysis and discussion is on blogs and boards.
    It is not even close.

    Comment by Nathan -

  27. From Tom Jolly:

    Hang on, that\’s exactly my point: The market determines whose content is better. If you don\’t think our content is worthwhile, you\’ll go elsewhere. That\’s cool. It\’s what a free market is all about.

    Your movie analogy doesn\’t quite work because there\’s a distinction between creative art – fictional stories or art based on imagination – and journalism, which is based getting at the truth on the issues and news.

    Yes, in most cities, they will deliver the paper to your doorstep, with coupons that will save you money (I don\’t know about \”tons\” or money), but that delivery system has always been the most problematic aspect of the newspaper business. We have to print papers hours before they get delivered to doorsteps because it takes time to drive around and throw those papers onto doorsteps.

    Now that there\’s a way to deliver news almost instantly – through blogs, web sites or mobile phones – we\’ve got a much more efficient delivery system. You\’ve still got the choice of receiving that little gift of newsprint at your doorstep each day, or you can check your favorite web site or power up your mobile phone and get the news of the moment.

    But isn\’t this getting off the track of your original post? What difference does it make if you call something a \”blog\” or you call it something else? It\’s all about whether you think you\’re going to get authoritative information. If you think you will, you\’ll go there. If you don\’t, you won\’t. The free market rules.

    Comment by Tom Jolly -

  28. Mark,

    At the end of your commentary, you say: “A feature that anyone can add is not a sustainable differentiation. Since you can easily add it anytime, like everyone else, instead, always look for what can set you apart and pre-empt the competition.”

    But you overlook that content IS the differentiation.

    Disclosure: I’m the sports editor at The New York Times, so I’ve obviously got a bias in this discussion, but then who doesn’t?

    Back to the point, the defining difference among all news sources has been whether the reporting is reliable – and that has been the case since the beginning of time. When you need information – real, trustworthy information – you go to the source you believe in, whether they are distributing their content by word of mouth, on a cave wall, via pamphlet, newspaper, magazine or through a digital format.

    We call our “real time” news reports “blogs” because it’s a term our readers have become familiar with, but what we do with our blogs is different than, say, Deadspin or BlogMaverick. The convention is popular because of the ease of posting, but that doesn’t mean the content of our postings is the same as other sites that also describes themselves as “blogs,” any more than the content of our newspaper is the same as other newspapers.

    I completely agree with your premise that anyone who follows the pack will forever bound to the long tail, but labels don’t define whether you’re a part of the pack. You get away from the pack by doing exactly what you said earlier in your post: leveraging your strengths. And that’s precisely what we set out to do every day at the Times.

    Tom Jolly
    Sports editor
    The New York Times

    From MC:Thanks for the post, but saying content is the difference is wrong. Of course you and every content creator thinks their content is better. Musicians think their bands/songs are better. Authors think their books are better. Etc. Its all about content. Unfortunately for content creators, everyone has their own taste about what makes good content.

    If it were all about content,you wouldnt need the net. people would seek out physical papers at the expense of the net because they really wanted the content. Unfortunately they dont.
    heck, in most cities they wlil deliver the paper to your door, include coupons that can save you tons of money and it costs about a buck a day. Its that easy, and the people who value the content are dropping in number by the day

    here is a better analogy. Which has a higher brand value , theatrically released movies or made for TV movies or straight to DVD movies. They are all just movies, but if you tell a producer of a theatrical movie that his movie is just like a made for tv movie, he.she will throw a fit. Tell them its like a home movie, forget about it.
    They recognize that the perception of the movie makes a huge difference in how it will be received and even who will actually review the movie and buy or see it. They go out of their way to advertise and promote just which of them they are.
    i think newspapers should as well.They should have some branding ala “theatrical” that distinguishes them from “home or tv movies” But its not my business. Its yours.

    Comment by Tom Jolly -

  29. The crux of this argument is eminently understandable. There is a definite problem when anyone, or any business, starts to wander away from their wheelhouse. However, there are exceptions. For instance, Brian Windhorst of the Akron-Beacon Journal seems to do an exemplary job of using his blog on that newspaper\’s website to enhance his coverage of games. He is constantly updating it with information and insight that he couldn\’t get into his limited space. I think, when done this way, the blog can be a super avenue. It is informative and fun to read for the die-hard NBA/Cavs fans who are the likely readers anyway.

    Comment by Austin Marshburn -

  30. I am intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Comment by Pecos45 -

  31. What differentiate a blogger from a journalist is that journalist (no matter how independent he/she is) would still represent some kind of a business entity or political group. While bloggers represents only themselves, that is good blogs are extremely personal in opinions and positions.
    Therefore, so called \”bloggers\” from newspapers are really journalists and their writings should be treated likewise. Branding their pages as \”blogs\” is somewhat deceptive.
    If there is some kind of a quota on how many people from a newspaper can come to the conference (which I don\’t know), this \”blogger\” would have to be counted as one of the journalists.

    Comment by Vladimir -

  32. Whoops, tried to add it as a hyperlink and didn\’t read the instructions. The post mentioned above is here:

    Comment by Gritsforbreakfast -

  33. I both agree and disagree with Don\’s comments at #10. Yes, making the means of production more widely available had an impact, but I also think the news industry\’s content is frequently even more outdated than their more often-blamed production methods. I recently elaborated on why I think that is, for anyone interested, in a blog post celebrating the millionth visitor to my own humble corner of the blogosphere.

    Comment by Gritsforbreakfast -

  34. You\’re right. The big media need to show itself as something extra. But, it\’s not quality that must be expressed, as you mentioned. It\’s stickiness. If they so desired sex, drugs, and rock n roll will do the job. Their current effort with blogs are nothing more than a slight extention of their news and commentary services. It\’s just in a different wrapper.

    And their main problem is that they are targetting advertising as a primary revenue source. That\’s a mistake.

    That\’s the problem. But, the NYTimes and others have already solved the problem. They have found the solution and are currently applying it. In fact, newspapers have been used, and have been well paid, for this for centuries. Now, they are being used as a propaganda service. Spin, propaganda, deceit, and public perception is their game plan. And they are well paid for it.

    Are examples, proof, and sources needed to support this assertion? No need.

    Comment by -

  35. Mark:

    I have a M.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas. My final Master\’s Report was on blogs.

    I work as a professional blogger.

    I am starting my blog consulting business.

    I say this because I hope to impress on you the level of my expertise in the areas of blogs, blogging, journalism, and journalists who blog.

    Blogs – in toto – are pieces of computer software.

    It is a piece of computer software designed to make periodic publishing to the Web simple for the novice. Blogs are a tool of publishing, NOT a format. They are the printing press, not the ink on the page. They are the TV transmitter, not the anchorman.

    Blogs are a blank slate.

    Now, individual blogs may hold to the highest of fact-checked journalistic standards. Or they may be trash and speculation. Or they may be personal opinion. Or they may be remixed versions of Garfield comics. The format of the printed material does NOT determine the quality of the printed material.

    There are blogs out there that do better journalism than the New York Times, and blogs out there that peddle more unverified trash than the National Enquirer. You seem to want to lump all blogs and fit it into a preconception, and then when someone decides to challenge that preconception, you ignore the evidence.

    You made a bad call and you\’re digging yourself in deeper.

    Comment by Brian Boyko -

  36. Thought provoking questions. I just blogged about a related topic. You talk about the challenges of newspaper blogs, these do well because of those bloggers\’ star status, although being a \”star\” and being a journalist is potentially problematic… but editors don\’t seem to care much and they\’re cashing in on that… either way it all points to the demise of the Fourth Estate, and I\’d love to hear your feedback on that.

    Comment by Jaclyn -

  37. Excellent comments. I have been watching blogs for some time wondering when they might become valuable or generate income. I think it\’s a space for \”leadership,\” and perhaps valuable leadership.

    I enjoy news and opinion, but most of it doesn\’t provide any benefit to me or my so-called life. I would be willing to pay for benefits – especially if I believed they would continue, but \”I\” want to make that judgment. Maybe each time it\’s offered.

    Our most important possession is our \”time.\” Some blogs have saved me time and effort to find \”information.\” I want more than information. I want \”insight\” or \”expertise\” value – exclusive enough that I need to pay for it.

    If we had a reliable micro-commerce internet payment system it might enable paying 25 cents for something valuable. Ultimately, generating income \”publishing online\” will require the ability to sell value for nickels and dimes, maybe dollars.

    It seems to me there is a great opportunity if someone can create a safe way to click and drag a Quarter into someones website to receive some value. Subscription models require trust. I\’d rather spend small change. I know some students at UT Austin thought they had finally solved the micro-currency opportunity, but I haven\’t seen anything lately. Until someone creates this solution, blogging is just blogging.

    Comment by Andrew W. -

  38. There\’s an old saying about the journey being more valuable than the destination. Doing it for the doing isn\’t bad. In fact if you look closely at those who define happiness invariably that will be their message. Do it for the doing.

    Yeah, I know. Some people believe it must be done for the dun.

    They\’re horses asses I say.

    Blogs probably define the doing for the doing as well as anything can, herd versus heard if you know what I mean.

    Comment by harvey lacey -

  39. I am looking for a good blog host for adsense but hardly to be succeed. Do I have to buy special host space for a blog??

    Comment by iamzhh -

  40. I heard someone say that 99% of blogs have a readership of 1. Most people want attention and blogging feeds their dreams that someday they will liked.

    Comment by lawn mower -

  41. NY Times and other \”big papers\” can easily maintain their \”sustainable differentiation\” by virtue of their ability to invest in content. The quality of the writers does make a difference, but even more important is the wherewithal to pay for the advantage of being one of the first to report news in a swath of interest areas. Having sources for high-level, (more than less) reliable, information and a healthy share of exclusives, costs money. But the payoff for the \”big papers\” can be very rewarding.

    If blogs are essentially a reproduction of much that already exists (presented with a unique organization or point of view), then surely being credited as the source of the original information/content can create a tremendous opportunity. Smart and engaging journalists like Kara Swisher ( build their own following and bring more traffic (with extremely valuable metrix) into the WSJ/Murdoch juggernaut. Whether the big company knows how to monetize the masses is a very different question, but being \”big\” and buying a seat close to the spigot of \”content\” will always be a good thing. Having more bites of the apple along the distribution chain (in this case, a pedestrian internet medium like \”the blog\”), can\’t be a bad thing.

    Comment by lev -

  42. Mark,

    \”What leverages our strengths and pre empts every blogger out there so that people perceive blogging as the low end and our presentation as the future of the medium?\”

    It\’s a good question, but sounds like you\’re arguing for style over substance.

    I\’d argue that content is king. True differentiation comes through the quality of the content, more than the medium through which it\’s delivered.

    Some media can add to the content by encouraging and surfacing debate. Like on this blog. (If it were just your point of view, that\’d have been interesting. But the debate going on has given life to the content and now I\’m hooked. Where\’s it going to go?)

    But are gains from tweaking/reinventing the media going to be the best (most cost-effective, impactful, talked-about, profitable…) way to answer,

    \”How can we produce more appealing content?\”

    Comment by Matt -

  43. Mark,

    Remember your movie marketing challenge from a couple years ago? A few other Stanford students and I have created a startup that deals directly with this space. We think we have an interesting solution to the problem and would love to discuss it with you further.


    Neil (

    Comment by Neil -

  44. A weblog is exactly that – somebody\’s log on the web. Call it a journal, a diary, a daily entry. Call it whatever you want, just don\’t group them all together and say \”a blog is a blog is a blog.\”

    If you can\’t figure out that today\’s interconnected world has talent in all corners, across all mediums, then you just don\’t get it – like the early naysayers who mocked the internet as a modern-day \”cb radio.\” My point is that we all have room to contribute now, we\’re not constrained by bandwidth or channels or timeslots. Like your TV station.

    Instead of realizing that viewers finally get to choose what content is worthwhile (hence blogs that become popular), Mark Cuban would rather us trust the men in suits at the media companies. But not all of them – just the old timers who think bloggers are a bunch of amateurs.

    Comment by andy -

  45. Pundits can fight amongst themselves all they like over what the term \”blog\” means. Couldn\’t care less. To me, a \”blog\” is a web document that allows comments. Nothing more, nothing less.

    We sure had web pages where people could publish their opinions long before this \”blog\” thing became a buzzword. As Mark points out, we also had elaborate message board solutions where we could have open conversations over the web prior to the age of the \”blog\”. In fact, even message board software back in the day would leave most \”blogging platforms\” in the dust when it comes to community conversation features (yes, \”social networking\” did exist long before they started calling it that).

    What we see today as \”blogging\” is the culture of \”thinking out loud\” brought on by the low cost of entry into personal publishing, facilitated by free CMSs, cheap hosting, better Internet search, easily accessible content aggregation as well as subscription technologies like RSS/Atom etc. Rather than putting up a static web page or writing an article in an e-zine, where I could perhaps read comments via e-mail, I\’d rather prefer to have a \”blog post\” where the readers can have a conversation amongst eachother as well as with me (hopefully on matters at least remotely related to the subject of the post). It is clearly apparent that there are many passionate, knowledgeable individuals out there who seem to have the same inclination. This is the true power of this so called \”blogging\” phenomenon. Many people who have valuable things to say, but otherwise may not have gone to the trouble of \”thinking out loud\” in a way that is accessible to the masses can and do tend to do so these days. Perhaps people in this category are more \”people who happen to blog as well\” rather than \”hardcore bloggers\”.

    We seem to have (as usual) pushed this \”blog\” buzzword too far, where now the balance is tipped more towards \”blogging\” for the sake of \”blogging\”. Every man and his dog apparently have a reason and a legitimate need to \”blog\”. There are many \”blogging experts\” telling us how it is good for our image, careers and even health. There are all these \”bloggers\” swimming about out there, who have no real value to add other than amplifying short term sensationalism (if you could call it value that is) or providing non-information (\”ex: I love where I live. It\’s so wonderful and sunny\” or \”I had an interesting dream last night\”).

    So here is my message to the \”blogging\” generation…

    [1] If you don\’t know what you\’re talking about, don\’t blog about it! Every useless piece of information at the very least wastes resources, how cheap they may appear to be. Besides, surely you can think of better ways to spend your time!

    [2] If you don\’t see a clear objective to be achieved through \”blogging\” (which you could perhaps quantify to some extent at least), most probably you don\’t need to \”blog\” regardless of what the pundits say. Again, surely you can think of better ways to spend your time!

    [3] If you want to be a \”blogger\”, please spend some time and resources in developing value, whether it is access to non public domain information, unique insight and analysis skills or superior domain knowledge. Don\’t be just another hype-pusher like thousands out there. If you\’re hype-pusher, chances are you\’ll be forever stuck in the long tail, indistinguishable from many others like you.

    [4] If you\’re blogging for your company, please identify what your company intends to achieve/communicate. People have no interest in receiving second hand thoughts on why the chicken crossed the road from a company that builds performance cars. Your cleaning of the company premises would perhaps result in better return for your company.

    At the end of the day, once all this is said and done, quality is of course subjective beyond a certain standard and as such, lowering of signal-to-noise ratios brought about by lowering the cost of entry is only a problem as far as emphasizing how much room there is for personalized information filtering technologies to grow (and profit of course).

    Comment by Nishad Herath -

  46. Most big news media tried to keep their cake and eat it too:

    1. We\’ll brand and present some of our content as blogs so that it does NOT have to live up to the standards of our other content, so we CAN break news as fast as the guy that doesn\’t validate sources etc, so we CAN get away with presenting unedited, sometimes slapdash content, so we can play in the long tail sandbox at times…and of course most importantly so we STOP losing pageviews to \”blogs\”.

    2. But OUR blogs will be different and better because they will have instant credibility from our strong brand, an eager audience from our installed base, and professional writers.

    In reality the result has been much closer to what Mark describes. Not surprisingly.

    A stronger model is the one the Washington Post is experimenting with. Fill the edges, the long-tail, with external blogs – blogs written by people that often are passionate experts in their small sandbox, not a professional half-heartedly playing a new game that is often not in his DNA. And of course sell ads across the aggregated network, adding some hyperlocal inventory to the installed base, strengthening relationships with advertisers, and disintermediating independent blogs and the advertisers.

    Comment by gzino -

  47. Yeah, but how \’bout you just let Tim MacMahon have access to the Mavs\’ locker room.

    Comment by MikeMc -

  48. Why does anybody do anything?

    Because they want to.

    The position on the head or tail matters not.

    The beauty of the web is that it allows the tail to exist, to see the light. Otherwise point of view of people who are in the long tail would never be heard.

    Anybody who wants one can now have a megaphone and let it rip, say what they want and see what happens.

    Comment by Antonio Howell, MD -

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