John Hawkins of Right Wing News wrote about The Slow, Painful Death of the Independent Conservative Blogosphere. He points out that, “in American politics, the energy tends to be with the party that’s out of power.” That means:
…when Barack Obama got into power, you’d have expected that traffic on the Right side of the blogosphere would have surged just as it did on the Left side of the blogosphere in the early Bush years.
That didn’t happen.
Hawkins has five explanations which I’ll condense from the longer discussions in the full post:
- The right has more avenues for people to get involved with, such as talk radio and the Tea Parties. (He apparently is putting aside the common view on the right that people on the left are all getting involved with dangerous organizations such as ACORN, the New Black Panthers, and NPR.)
- Social networking has taken off and people are spending more time on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll discuss this point more later.
- The market has become more mature, and people are more likely to read the big blogs such as Michelle Malkin or Instapundit as opposed to a small brand new blog.
- The market has become more professional, making it harder for someone who is not known to compete with names like Ann Coulter or the big blogs with large staffs.
- Bloggers are poor at marketing, and eventually have difficulty putting in long hours for a project which they are not likely to make money off of.
Other than the first, which claims that structural differences on the right are responsible, each of these other arguments are more general statements about the difficulties of a small, independent blog, regardless of ideology. If the right is withering more than the left, it must be for other reasons–perhaps such as the weakness of their viewpoints. If conservative bloggers are getting depressed by all of this, I will point out that a good Republican primary battle followed by a general election will do wonders to increase blog readership.
The argument based upon social networks is partially true, but also misses an important point. My interest is in using the internet to promote pro-freedom liberal values to counter the authoritarian right, and to promote reason over the anti-science view of the right. This does not have to be limited to blogs, and social networking has become a useful tool.
Facebook has pretty much killed off the discussion section here, but does it matter? There is often more discussion of blog posts when posted on Facebook than there was here on the blog. Facebook adds many additional readers. Less people might come directly to the blog, but there are many new readers who read the posts directly on Facebook. Sharing of the posts provides links which attract additional readers. Twitter also provides a number of comments, as well as additional links to the posts.
If the goal is to compete with the bigger blogs or to make lots of money, small independent bloggers will be disappointed. Small bloggers can still get their views out before a significant number of people–and effectively utilizing social networks will help to increase this number.