Why Blogging Is Dead—And What's Next

The blog is dead.

I don't say it lightly; I've been blogging since 2000, moving from an email list I started in the '90s to Blogger to TypePad to Wordpress.com to Wordpress.org. My blog is now directed off my Stealthmode blog domain to SVBTLE, where it lives under an alias. I couldn't decide what to do with it, because I was originating posts in Google+, Facebook, and Evernote more and more often. And I can't really "blog" on my phone; so when I am at an event, I'm more likely to live tweet, and then convert those tweets later into a Storify.

And then I heard yesterday's discussion on The Gillmor Gang and spoke to my Business and Future of Journalism class. The Gang received a brief introduction to Betaworks' new content authoring tool Tapestry from John Borthwick, who runs Betaworks. He explained to us that Tapestry was designed for completely mobile content consumption; it is a clean, uncluttered environment and you download the app to read the content. Or to create it. It creates "Tappable stories." You have to see it to believe it, just as you had to see SVBTLE or Medium, the new high quality by-invitation-only content platform put forward by Ev Williams.

All of these are incredibly different from traditional blogs. They are much less text heavy, and they focus on quality of both content and design. God knows what they will do to journalism when they become mainstream--because they will. Many of the people entering the Internet now will never even see a PC or a laptop; they will read on mobile devices. So the format of content must rapidly change to meet them.

This underscores a discussion being had among journalism professors like Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen, who are arguing on Twitter about whether the "article" is still a viable form of journalism. If journalism is now a process, continually updating and iterating on the facts in any given event, then you can't really freeze it in an article anymore, can you?

News is a river that happens all day and night, all over the world, which is why Twitter is so compelling. If you read Matthew Haughey's piece on Medium about why he doesn't like Facebook and does like Twitter, you will get it all. Twitter was invented for mobile; Facebook is behind on mobile. Facebook is predicated on the past; Twitter is in the now.

So I see that moving my blog around like this is just staving off the inevitable; we are moving to collections and curations, to mobile content, and to different authoring tools. Think for a moment about the incredible popularity of Tumblr, or of Pinterest. I believe they are early iterations of the content revolution.

I told my journalism students, who are just being taught by their professors that the new way is "digital first," that they have to stretch again--this time all the way to "mobile first." What does this mean if you wanted to be a feature writer, an investigative reporter, a business writer, or a TV producer?

Nothing. You can still BE any of those things. You just have to avoid being wedded to old platforms.

That's why I know blogging is dead. It won't die all at once, but just you wait.

Have you gone "digital first"? Tell us about it in the comments.

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[Image: Flickr user Shehan Obeysekera]

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23 Comments

  • ryanlaw234

    flicker, twatter, facebutt etc is all ridiculous.  No none of these are articles or journalism.  Pick up and read a paper lady you are in your own small self created World and no one is reading your tripe.

  • Eric Pangburn

    Nice try!  But this way of trying to get more buzz by being controversial can work, but this article is not it!

  • Iwillcoachyou Tg

    Are you kidding me! Blogging is huge! People are making tons of money from it even! I have a blog and I cross leverage it for 2 businesses! It's frickin beautiful. I'm looking at pulling in a nice chunck myself this year! The guy I learned from is making 15k a month from his blog. The guy who he learned from is making over 100k a month from his blog and the guy he learned from makes over 250k a month FROM A BLOG! That is alive and kicking!

  • Димитър Цонев (Dimitar Tsonev)

    dead doesn't mean disappearing, not magnetizable, etc. 

  • Димитър Цонев (Dimitar Tsonev)

    Blogging is sharing. One can share/blog wherever the community is or the tool is most suitable for users' needs. Blogs (as a form) are dead, not blogging.

  • jbond

    'Is "article" still a viable form' asks an article! Perhaps much more interesting than asking about the future of blogs or talking about the move to mobile content creation and consumption is to ask if long-form content has a future. Perhaps the sad reality is that TL;DR. is the norm. If the typical medium of consumption works against long form and the reader doesn't have the attention span for it, and the writers don't have the time to construct it, then maybe it's long form that is dead. So it's not blogging that is dead but blogs as a collection of long form pieces. In the middle of all that blogging is doing fine thank you, it's just morphed into a tumblr.

  • Jay

    I agree and disagree if that is possible.

    I agree that blogs are in trouble since who reads them any way.  We have more blog writers than blog readers.   I see great blogs and have no comments.  Either no one is reading them, or people don' t like to comment.  I am not sure which is true.

    I disagree that blogs are dead since writing is thinking.  Thinking can not easily be captured by any other way than a well written text, so I think, like books, blogs are here to stay for a long time since who has time to read milions of books that are being published today?  

  • Bryan Lee

    Hi  , just like to drop a note that I really like the part where you highlighted that "writing is thinking" I'm totally with you on this, everytime I write/blog (although I'm not sure if anyone read) it certainly helps me to structure myt thoughts and usually in the end get things going :D

    Cheers

  • Wesley Picotte

    The notion that blogs are dead is ridiculous. Just check out the Content Marketing Institute's 
    annual content marketing report, which contains actual facts (overwhelmingly so), not sensationalist opinions, about the efficacy of blogs and blogging.

  • mmcduffie1

    I will go 10% on this one. The other 80% is way off. Sensationalism is nice for headlines, but not at the cost of story credibility as is the case here. Blogging is clearly not dead since I am not currently paid by ghosts. At any rate, all the hype over mobile media will be short-lived in my opinion because more and more people are buying tablets and they seem to take them everywhere. 

    No one seems to see the larger picture anymore. If long form dies and this mobile tidbit crap prevails, how long will it be before content is useless because it's nothing more than an image and a cutline with no decipherable information attached? Everything cannot be summed up in a handful of words.

    It is journalist like you that are killing the craft because you move along with the herd from one fad to another. No core values and no need for good content- just do what everyone else is doing- luckily you are part of the minority. 

  • corecorina

    I have to agree with some of the other commenters... the term blog is by no means limited to text heavy web media... and what you have described as the future is very much still contained within the blogging medium (imho).

    A more accurate - and even more alarmist/grabby title - would have been to say that WRITING is dead. And then go on to observe that long form writing is not at all how we consume and create stories. Instead, as you have pointed out, we create an explorable environment that both documents the story and allows the reader to engage with it. This is still blogging - and this is still writing, when it's done well.

    But the mediocrity of the average "blog" makes me feel I have to give you a little room in saying that the blog - in a sense - is in fact, dead.

  • joeydehnert

    I get that the title is sensational on purpose to elicit a response, and I do think we are going to find written content to be more and more device contextual. There will be less focus on always doing long form posts, and being much more aware of quickly digestible content for mobile. But this very post wouldn't make sense as a series of tweets, and shows that blog posts and even longer articles are still a valuable medium and will continue to be so.

  • Nick Braak

    Nicely articulated piece, but so what?  I'm getting older and don't usually give a hoot what the newest entrants to the online world want or do?  That being said, I am reading and (shudder) consuming on a smartphone some of the time. Note I said reading!!!

  • Mohamed Najeh

    Nicely articulated piece, but so what? I'm getting older and don't usually give a hoot

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