Monday, December 01, 2008

For deep, narrow coverage, blogs are better than mainstream media

A few Philistines are still maintaining that blogging isn't a worthy medium for intelligent discussion, that it's somehow less valuable than the "professional media."

Yes, there are crappy blogs out there, just like there are crappy newspapers and magazines. The low barrier to entry of blogging means there is more crap--but, long-tail style, there is also content of tremendous value, erudition, power and influence.

I learned of one more example today. Tanta, who wrote for the Calculated Risk blog, died over the weekend.

She warranted an obituary in the New York Times and a mention from James Surowiecki (from that most professional media outlet, the New Yorker). Here's another tribute from Felix Salmon at Conde Nast Portfolio.

And it wasn't because she wrote about Britney Spears or LOLcats. According to the Times,

Thanks in large part to Tanta’s contributions, Calculated Risk became a crucial source of prescient analysis as the housing market at first faltered, then collapsed and finally spawned a full-blown credit crisis.

Blogs allow writers with deep, narrow expertise, like Tanta, to pass on their learning, share their opinions, and illuminate that which for most of us is unknown. For me, in particular, I still read general-interest media, like the Times, New Yorker, WSJ, HBR, etc. But for subjects I want to explore more deeply, blog content is far better and more valuable.

There's no way Tanta would have had a voice twenty or even ten years ago. That's a benefit to readers everywhere. Including, as her case makes clear, those from the "professional media."

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