Blogging: The Modern Day Letter To The Editor

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By Trace Sharp

Joe Powell has been a reporter and a blogger. His perspective on this medium can be found at his blog, Cup Of Joe Powell and he has sat on both sides of the aisle.

Blogging (and bloggers such as my humble self) in general often remind me of the character of Billy Pilgrim in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse Five”. As Billy got older, he would often lock himself into his basement wearing his pajamas and furiously but earnestly type letters to the editor at his local newspaper, all explaining and expounding on how he had become “unstuck in time” when he was abducted by aliens and taken to their home planet of Tralfamadore. It drove his children crazy that he just would not shut up about it, that he kept pushing the idea out into the community.

So it goes.

EXACTLY. And yes, I did use all caps.

Although the crux of Joe’s post is regarding Pajamas Media’s announcement regarding online advertising, the passage above is very accurate.

I would add though that blogging is evolving every single day. And let us look at the elephant in the room head on.

Money.

Many online news websites right now are generating content that costs them very little. This isn’t new. Newspapers have done the same thing but there had to be a base of original news offered. Letters to the editor are wonderful because they show a slice of the mindset of the readers at that particular period of time. Blogs are the same way. Folks don’t like what is going on in politics, with Brittney Spears, Michael Vick’s pit bulls, the topic of the day, they blog about it. They throw their $.02 out there and move on.

In watching the drama that occurred over the weekend with Pajamas Media discontinuing their business model and cutting the ad network on April 1, there are lessons to learn from this.

For whatever reason, their business model didn’t work.

What will work? That is the next question.

It’s a slippery slope for those in media because we forget that so many bloggers out there write for the sheer joy of it.

And this is new ground in dealing with monetization. The reality is that with so many newspapers undergoing devastating hits, it’s time to start talking about money.

Because, my friends, we are heading into a freelance world for journalists. And we need to see what is viable and what isn’t when it comes to the fact that we want to eat.

It’s a lot to think about.

And letters to the editor, as we have learned from the past, are only going to sell you so many newspapers. There has to be a balance.

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