The amateur liberal blogosphere is dead, according to a prominent lefty blogger. Chris Bowers made his proclamation Thursday, on the heels of the New York Times's acquisition of FiveThirtyEight, a prominent liberal polling site run by Nate Silver.
Silver, pictured right, was the latest in a string of moves from the liberal blogosphere to traditional media outlets. The Washington Post has, with much fanfare, beefed up its blogging staff of late, most recently by hiring Dave Weigel to cover the political right.
The trend of professionalization should not be surprising. Traditional media are overwhelming liberal, and new media comprise some of the sharpest journalistic minds the nation has to offer. Traditional media need ways to remain relevant. Why wouldn't they draw talent from the vast pool of bloggers?
Bowers acknowledges the financial incentive for bloggers to make the journey to Old Media--and Bill Jacobson wonders with more than a hint of snark: "At what point have these progressive bloggers made enough money?" But a larger issue is that liberal bloggers seem to be drawn into Old Media's realm at a far greater rate than conservative ones.
Very few conservative bloggers are being picked up by major media outlets (Erick Erickson is the only one I can think of), while the Washington Post hires a quasi-sort-of-libertarian in Weigel to cover the right. The confluence between the political views of the liberal blogosphere and traditional media make them natural allies in commentary.
Andrew Sullivan claims "the next generation of journalists will come from the blogosphere, and tomorrow's leaders are only just getting started. I think of the amateur blogosphere as a huge pool of talent to be enjoyed and read and eventually rented."
The liberal blogosphere has essentially become a recruiting pool for the liberal media--it is the largest source of prolific liberal writers, and Old Media knows it. Prominent and reliably liberal bloggers like Ezra Klein, Greg Sargent, and Nate Silver cut their teeth as amateurs, but having established their credentials they can now go to bat for Old Media.
Meanwhile conservatives, states JWF, are "clobbering websites and blogs from major establishment media."
Although maybe a few years from now when the dying media relics now employing the Juice Boxers wither and die some on the right may be in demand since nobody is paying attention to these deep thinkers. May they save a few bucks while they're still employed at the first real job any of them has ever probably had.
"Since the companies don't have editorial control," Sullivan states, "they are essentially super-brands that sell advertizing [sic]. So who in the end is running the new journalism? The old editors and owners or the bloggers and their readers?"
The real question is, does it matter? We're going to be spoon-fed the same liberal politics regardless.