Blogging Is Dead, Long Live Journalism

state of the blogosphere

Technorati's regular "State of the Blogosphere" analysis of the business is just out, and among the stats is the incredible fact that bloggers are being paid more than ever. Is it time to rethink the definition of blogging? Yes.

state of the blogosphere

First, the stats. Technorati's killer finding is that among the professional bloggers they surveyed who fall into the "full time" worker category, the average salary works out at $122,222—an enormous figure. Those full-timers equate to 46% of the respondees, which means that the majority of bloggers are part-timers—but these guys still take home some $14,777 per year, which isn't to be sniffed at. That means the average blogger salary is about $42,548. The money isn't primarily coming from employers (14% of bloggers work for corporations). Nor is it pouring in from ads on self-published blog pages—the financial meltdown put a massive dent in Internet ad revenues. Instead, bloggers are leveraging their popularity and expertise into speaking engagements, "traditional media" assignments, and setting up and running conferences, as VentureBeat notes.

In other words, blogging is now a diverse, popular and successful enterprise that covers a multiplicity of online writers, from extensive Twitterers to self-described Mommybloggers to tightly written, up-to-the-minute, smartly edited online publications like this one—a "professional blog" by Technorati standards. And it's in that last sense that blogging is becoming a farm system for future journalists, who are apparently riding out the economic downturn pretty well (on average, at least). Think about that for a moment, and then remember how many traditional journalism jobs have been lost over the same period.

So here's the radical suggestion: Let's redefine what blogging means. If you're writing self-absorbed or inexpert opinions about the minutiae of daily life, without hyperlinks, fact checks or any pretense at engaging with the news, you're a blogger. You probably fall into the lower categories of pay in the Technorati survey if you in fact make any money at all. But if you're a writer for an online publication, one that takes real-time stories, updates them as events unfold, reference your quoted facts, break stories and produce original writing then shall we just say you're a journalist? An online one, but a journalist all the same.

And when you maneuver your thinking in this direction, you come to a strange new conclusion: Journalists who write for online versions of their (perhaps historic, perhaps not) newspapers are the same as journalists who write for totally different online news portals. Even the Pulitzer committee has said online entities can consider themselves eligible for its prestigious prize, with some limitations.

If the FTC would only figure this out, it would likely scrap its insidious plans to regulate how bloggers behave—an action that many are labeling as unfair, and possibly motivated by behind-the-scenes lobbying and cronyism from newspaper moguls. The FTC has moved back from its aggressive stance a little, but it certainly targets bloggers as a workforce while leaving traditional journalists unmentioned. That's a position often reflected in opinionated but ill-informed commenters on blogs whenever traditional media is downplayed.

But no matter how vehemently the FTC or old guard media moguls reject the coming change, it's still coming. If the advent of ubiquitous mobile Web technology and imminent graphics-rich tablet PCs hasn't signaled the change strongly enough, Technorati's data on blogger income should. Blogging's about to shed its ugly caterpillar stage and emerge as journalism's future.

[Via VentureBeat]

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  • jerry carter

    This is indeed a very enlightening post. So, do we really have to apply the two terms? Do we have to correct those who called writers of up-to-date and news-driven content bloggers? Is the term "blogger" only applicable to one who writes personal and confessional content?

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  • Andrew Stephenson

    Despite the typo in the article's stats, the findings are telling.
    Journalists appear to be redefining themselves as both readers and businesses look to experts in a sea of ill informed and self publicizing bloggers.
    Here's hoping it's a sign of the cream rising to the top. That good writing is being recognised and it's not a sign of PR agencies pushing their client's agendas.

  • Derrick Burke

    Couldn't agree more. Platforms for recompense need to mature, however, which means that people MUST pay for at least some content. Otherwise, it will degenerate into a shallower, if not louder cacophony. Want proof? K - Without a doubt, something like The Economist magazine could never have been achieved by an electronic posse of volunteers.
    But this means that the skilled individuals out there need to be given the right tools and a user base that accepts their need to be able to pay the mortgage and feed their children whilst they go about cross-pollinating and maturing their business models.
    Derrick Burke
    CMO, Aurumis, Inc.:

  • P Tittle

    Somebody needs to read the study. The $122K salary claimed as the "killer finding" is actually average ad revenue claimed by the self-employed bloggers surveyed who monetize their blogging. And that group is not 46% of those surveyed, but rather 32% of the 28% who reported having monetized their blog (that's about 9% of those surveyed, for those of you scoring along at home.) The $15K "take-home" assigned to the balance is also ad revenue, and again, only applies to the 54% of the 28% who report blogging for dollars. To be clear, 72% of bloggers don't earn anything form blogging at all.

    My question: if the facts are all confused in an article in a "professional blog" that purports to distinguish between blogging and journalism, does it qualify as journalism? Or is it just another reason some people look down their noses at bloggers?

  • Rolando Peralta

    nice article, but I truly believe that journalism as we know it, HAVE to change. Blogging is a culture that everybody knows had redefined the we we consume information, and I think journalists have learned the lessons. We don't expect that everything (publishing industry) will be the same after bloging or social media.

  • Kit Eaton

    @Loraine. Interesting thoughts. But why the rush to regulation? It seems you automatically think blogging needs some legal chains? That's interesting all by itself--regulation doesn't stop newspaper journalists from getting things wrong, taking political sides, writing biased or incorrect articles. Newspapers themselves redefined how publishing worked. Now there's a whole new enterprise, a vast vista of publishing opening in front of digital writers. Why must it be chained down with references to the past?
    @Kathy. Thanks for the input. They were Technorati's images.

  • kathy mcconaughy

    really sloppy work- pie chart is wrong and quoted statistics bear little relationship to chart

  • Stefan Stelthove

    @Todd: You're right. The pie chart is backwards. The colors and figures don't match!

  • Todd Singleton

    Am I missing something or is the pie chart completely backwards from the indicated percentages in the first graphic?

  • Loraine Antrim

    Agreed. Blogging has moved from self-absorbed, semi-promotion to a form of citizen journalism. But...

    If we are to elevate blogging to any realm of journalism, where are the standards coming from; who "oversees" them? If it is all left to the collective voice, then we need to redefine what journalism is. It will not be the Edward R Murrow definition. Not sure if that is good or bad. The reality is that blogging and journalism are in a state of transformation right now. It's a dice toss to see who will survive and come out on top.

    Ask again in 10 years...but my money is on an informed citizen blogging, with out without recompense. Loraine Antrim

    Loraine Antrim, Co-founding Partner
    Core Ideas Communication
    "We Create Smartmouths®"