Weblog Prediction

Well, my weblog prediction for 2004 didn't come true as far as I know. I thought a prominent blogger would be sued for libelous comments. Awareness of legal issues related to weblogs definitely grew in 2004, and Dan Gillmor devoted an entire chapter of We The Media to blog law. I'm hesitant to make another prediction, but I agree there's a weblog backlash on the way. I guess my prediction is that a major old-media (TV, Newspaper, Magazine) personality will start a crusade to discredit weblogs. Rather than stopping existing bloggers, a campaign like this could discourage new people from writing weblogs. (More professionalism in weblogs could have the same effect, ironically. Maybe someone should start a "keep weblogs weird" campaign this year.)


I can see some sort of crusade against blogs but I also think the vast majority of people starting a weblog do it for fun, not to make or report news as an independent journalist. I doubt they even consider the main stream media when creating a new blog. You, of course, would know much better then I about this perception I have and it's accuracy. :)

I think the biggest reason why people don't start weblogs or stop writing weblogs is because they have no focus, and thus little readership. In the end, they figure "who would want to read what I have to say" or "why bother".
True, making or reporting news is a side effect of the masses blogging. Having a nation of weblog authors all speaking and talking with each other (even if it's just about the weather, or local soccer teams) is not good for old media. Weblogs have already put tremendous pressure on old media by keeping fires under stories that they would have rather let go, and by fact-checking journalists. I don't imagine a vast crusade, but I think one or two strong personalities could do some damage.

I have no focus, and somehow I keep going with this blog. :) I think the perception of what's possible is what keeps people blogging. And the media definitely has the ability to shape those perceptions.
Paul: Well, it is very, very hard to win libel cases in the US. Much easier in Britain. But you can inflict a lot of financial damage on the person you are suing, of course.

I doubt any major media personality will start an anti-blog crusade. First of all, such a person would have to do a lot of research and know what he is talking about and big-time personalities aren't willing to take time out from the cocktail circuit to do that. Also, Dan Rather got burned all the way round by bloggers, so any major media personality with any sense would think twice before making fun of the guys in pajamas, as the CBS exec so ill-advisedly put it.

Also, old media celebs don't argue logically. I saw an interview on C-SPAN about two weeks ago with Don Hewitt and Ben Bradlee. Bradlee said he disproves of bloggers because he doesn't know who the hell they are. Well, what does a reader of The Washington Post actually know about the shadowy Deep Throat or the "highly paced administration source," or "the well placed Pentagon official" and all the other vague sources the veracity of which we are expected to take on faith?

Craig makes a good point about focus. At least the far left and far right blogs have a clear focus--hatred.

But as to fun, Samuel Johnson said something to the effect of, "Only a fool writes for anything but money."

And not a nation but a world. There is a huge English reading audience out there untapped: Malaysia, the Philippines, etc.

And PB, Drudge is the strong personality who has already done some damage and that was well before the term blog became fashionable.


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