One of the minor stories of yesterday was that a bunch of progressive political bloggers have an email list. Ok, yes, Ezra Klein did organise it. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether it’s an ok concept, whether it creates an echo chamber. I’ll leave that to the professionals and Mickey Kaus (riow). Google it: there’s heaps out there.
I have no problem with the concept. In fact, I think it’s wonderful. It means people like Klein and Yglesias can instantly access experts on a range of topics, and thus efficiently research and produce really good quality material for their blogs. It also means their ideas are often refined by the input of others by the time we read them.
But here’s my problem with the whole thing:
One of the wonderful things about blogging is that is a fairly democratic medium. Most people, in the US and Australia at least, have access to the necessary equipment to build a blog. Klein and Yglesias started as bloggers while they were at college, and are now professionals.
Now, they have access to this amazing resource. The problem is: I don’t.
Nor do any of the other aspiring-bloggers I know. I am trying, on the periphery of a job and uni, to research and write interesting political commentary. If I want to write about Pakistan, I have to research a heap about Pakistan. And even then, when I post my blog, it’s in first or second draft mode. My ideas are refined by comments (when I get them) or they’re not. And all that is fine.
But now blogging is rapidly becoming less egalitarian. By restricting access to really great resources designed specifically to improve blogging, it ensure new blogs face yet another hurdle in gaining trafffic. But not only that, they face difficulties in learning about the medium.
It’s not so relevant for me, really: I’m blogging about stuff far outisde their interest most of the time, and I have my own, slowly-developing means of developing ideas. If I were a young, bright, liberal American political blogger, I might be royally pissed off that I am at such a distinct disadvantage. It’d be a shame if the world of influential blogging was effectively restricted to a privileged few- much as newspapers are- instead of being a place where the talented prosper.
Also, please note: I am in no way criticising the invention of the JournoList, or doubting Klein’s ingenuity in founding and moderating it. Goodness knows I rarely speak a negative word about Klein (except glib). I’m just a little concerned a haves-and-have-nots culture could develop in the blogosphere- beyond the have-traffic-and-don’t-have-traffic dichotomy.