With one of Chicago’s original bloggers signing off, many ask, are blogs out of date?

Jackie Spinner reports, at the Columbia Journalism Review:

Gapers was an original in Chicago, a space for bloggers and independent writers to congregate and muse on the city, writing about culture and the arts, politics and the Cubs. It was alone when it launched in 2003. A year later, the site Chicagoist, which is published under the Gothamist franchise, joined the scene.

But it turned out, over the years, almost everyone had joined the scene on their own.

It wasn’t really competition from the Chicagoist that killed Gaper, it was competition from anybody with an internet connection. That is what makes new media different. 

Co-founder Andrew Huff explained,

“At this point, I think Gapers Block’s model is just out of date … The site structure is out of step with the way online media functions, and while we provide a fantastic platform for local journalism, our audience is shrinking and our opportunities for revenue are too.”

The audience was probably trickling away to special purpose sites that thrive on slim pickings. That would have been next to impossible in the days when print and broadcast media ruled.

Back then, plant expenses were high. But today, when most expenses are information rather than matter, the business economy changes, along with everything else.

Small numbers do not forecast extinction when operating expenses are also small. Under some circumstances, a pensioner can compete with a big media corporation.

For that reason, one needs to be a bit careful assessing the future of new media from reports in traditional sources like Columbia Journalism Review. One could, for example, doubt their recent claim that print media are making a comeback.

Old media don’t die out, but they do cease to be frontline sources of information. And that is what matters.

So where does that leave blogging? Huff conceded that Twitter and Facebook are more “here and now” than Gaper’s Block was.

The fact that I had to freelance and that I had all the Gapers Block stuff on my shoulders as well meant I couldn’t take on projects that were more interesting. I couldn’t innovate or concentrate on fixing the back end because I was a slave to the daily grind.

Okay, the skinny: News writers for blogs use Twitter and Facebook constantly. But these services assist paid work, rather than interfering with it. So one senses that there is something not quite right about the claim that blogging is out of date because some early online media are down in the Wayback Machine (the archives of the internet).

Blogs are social media. For many bloggers, a much more serious concern than staying relevant is staying clear of looming censorship.

And that can even be a frustrating subject to discuss at times.

Well-meaning people often assume that governments merely want to get “vile filth” out of the public eye. But the “vile filth” could be their church’s blog, depending on the censor’s views.

Suddenly, stuff we thought we couldn’t pay people to read becomes a digital brown bag.

At any rate, as of 2013, there were over 152 million blogs on the Internet. Three million blog posts will be written today, at least to judge from Worldometers stats, and most people who read blogs do so more than once a day.

History is being written on the fly, so it is truly hard to predict what will happen next. But don’t bet the rent on blogs losing an audience.

See also: Decision time for Facebook: Censor or no? But on whose behalf does the social media giant censor?

and

Twitter vs. religious conservatives?: Enforcing rules against hate speech selectively is worse than not enforcing them at all.

Here’s a vid that may be useful, on the difference between a blog (dynamic) and a website (usually static), and how that may affect our communication decisions.

 

Denyse O’Leary is a Canadian journalist, author, and blogger.

Denyse O’Leary is an author, journalist, and blogger who has mainly written popular science and social science. Fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s description of electronic media as a global village...