In death of blogs, the dying of words

NewsCut, as you may have heard, is a blog and, as such, it’s dying, we’re told today.

Fusion says so in a post today in which it appears to celebrate a 104-year-old woman who blogs, but is actually a requiem for the “dying art.” We’re at least comforted in knowing that, while dying, we’re still engaged in “art.”

For the record, NewsCut has smashed traffic records for the year so far and the last two months have been the most popular months in the history of the thing. One of every 9 or 10 page views on the MPR News site is a NewsCut post. But, we’re also aware that blogs aren’t the “bright shiny object” that so hypnotizes the experts.

Blogs have now been supplanted by Twitter and Facebook, Fusion writes on its, ahem, blog today. And they’re doing well. Why Facebook has been unmasked for influencing an election by promoting fake news sites and Twitter is in the process of going broke.

“I’ve asked my students and they’re like, ‘Uh, blogging is so old,’” said John Rodzvilla, the graduate program director for publishing and writing at Emerson College, which also happens to be my alma mater. “I would like to know where teenagers express their angst now, because I can tell you, it’s not on blogs.”

It’s not just personal blogs that are dying. News blogs are too, Fusion says.

If you look at Google trends, hits for “blogging” peaked around 2006 and dropped off considerably after 2008. Even the most successful of the early bloggers, people like Andrew Sullivan, who managed to monetize his blog, have struggled to survive (Sullivan retired his 15-year-old blog, The Dish, last year.) As Ezra Klein—the founder of Vox, who owes his success largely to his popular Washington Post blog, Wonkblog—put it to Mother Jones, “Blogging is a conversation, and conversations don’t go viral.”

Plus, blogging isn’t exactly “cool” anymore. “It seems like the new young people aren’t very interested in blogging,” Kelly Conaboy noted dryly in The Hairpin earlier this year. Ask any teenager today if they have a blog and they’ll stare back at you quizzically—as if you’ve asked them when they last sent a telegram. Instead, they will probably show you a litany of highly visual social media profiles that contain hardly any words at all.

When Gawker Media went toes up in August, New Republic declared it marked the end of the “Utopian promise of blogging.”

“The classic blog was a writer’s medium: It was all about voice,” it said.

“But we’re in a post-print world, where social media moves at the speed of images, not at the slowness of words.”

How’s that working out?