Why Blogs Are Like Tulips

William Powers in the National Journal writes:

The market is in love with a bunch of little start-ups that weren’t even around five years ago. Bloggers, one-person media outlets, are the hot darlings of this feverish moment. Like the New Economy stocks of the 1990s, these newcomers are sharp, energetic, and fearless.

Remember all the Internet stocks that were going to change the world and make everyone rich? Blogs are the news trade’s equivalent — without the getting-rich part. Blogs aren’t mainly about money, not yet. They’re about taking power and control away from the old brand names, tipping the bloated sacred cows off their pedestals. Just as establishment media outlets have always dreamed about bringing down presidents, bloggers dream about bringing down editors-in-chief and news anchors.

And he continues:

Still, is this really a revolution? Bloggers are a fantastic addition to the media club, but I don’t see them taking it over. So far they’ve proven adept at several tasks: 1) bird-dogging factual errors and other crimes that the mainstreamers are ignoring; 2) speaking in a chatty, irreverent voice that’s refreshing after decades of stilted establishment formality; and 3) having fun — a skill the mainstreamers lost long ago.

One day this week, I popped in at Gawker.com and happened on a little item that linked the Michael Jackson trial to a particular Simpsons episode in a brilliant new comic synthesis. It was a moment you just can’t have with The Wall Street Journal.

What independent bloggers don’t have is the resources or, in most cases, the skills to do the heavy journalistic lifting that the big American outlets still do better than anyone, and will continue to do for a very long time. You can carp all you want about the toadying White House press corps, but we’d miss them if they were gone — and the bloggers would really miss them.

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