A couple of weeks ago Jason Calacanis announced he was retiring from blogging. This, from a guy who many consider the catalyst to professional blogging. In his follow up email (re-posted here by TechCrunch), Jason details his reasoning and shares some insight into why he prefers the 'more intimate' approach.
As you can imagine, there were plenty of critics who cried, "publicity stunt" and others who felt inspired by his change in direction. I may be naive to the seedy underworld of mega-blogging, but I tend to identify with Jason and see his message as valid. These days it seems it's become more about getting dugg, stumbled, tossing out the link-bait and hoping people will reddit. And as Jason points out, the trolls can ruin an honest post meant for a specific audience with a one-line below-the-belt shot without being held accountable.
Email as the Medium
The thing that really resonated with me wasn't the trouble with blogging, it was the promise for something more genuine. His direct-to-reader delivery via email subscription is nothing new, but the reason may be.
From Jason's email: You and I now have a direct relationship, and I’m cutting the mailing list off today so it stays at ~1,000 folks. I’ll add selectively to the list, but for now I’m more interested in a deep relationship with the few of you have chosen to make a commitment with me. Perhaps some of you will become deep, considered colleagues and friends–something that doesn’t happen for me in the blogosphere any more.
Much of my inspiration for doing this comes from what I’ve seen with John Brockman’s Edge.org email newsletter. When it enters my inbox I’m inspired and focused. I print it, and I don’t print anything. The people that surround him are epic, and that’s my inspiration–to be surrounded by exceptional people.
It's not about Blogging, It's about Community
What hasn't been mentioned here is that it's about community. The thing that's been lacking from the mega-blog is niche community. Criticism from like-minded people is, in my opinion, welcomed and validated- it's the disengaged fly-bys that can take the wind out of good conversation.
My blog is intertwined with our network. While not every user is a member of the media or a PR pro, so far, they are all there to be engaged. These are the same people who would indeed subscribe to my posts via email much like those Jason Calacanis has now.
Newspapers Take Note: Community is Key
Stop wasting time worrying about what's happening as more sites try to spam "news" to more people. Stop waiting for the implosion and think about your specific newspaper community. I've blogged about social media opportunities for newspaper before (See: Newspapers Still Missing The Benefits of Social Media) and I will continue to do so in hopes of offering some perspective to a medium I value, and was once a part of.
If the blogger of all bloggers isn't satisfied with the the state of blogging, maybe it's a hint at the direction newspaper and other mainstream media should be looking. It's happening already. See how PitchEngine member, Justin Williams and The News Journal in Wilmington, Deleware have been able to inject online community into real world community and benefit from engaging with readers online and off. See how David Cohn and Spot.us are introducing the concept of Community Funded Reporting.
Like Jason, people will tire of the fast paced, disengaged methods of news delivery happening today. Most people still want to curl up with a book, have cup of coffee over a newspaper or read a magazine on the plane. They especially want to be engaged in what's happening close to home, in their community, whether it's online or offline -posted on a bulletin board in a hallway.
That said, there are methods that seem to be popping up that could also bridge the gap and help "personalize" the experience. I applaud Jason Goldberg's approach with his newest game-changer SocialMedian. Those of you on PitchEngine received special invites early on, but it's certainly worth a return visit if you haven't been there in a while. Socialmedian is a social news network that connects people with personalized news and information.
"Our hunch is that people with common topical interests can help each other filter and discover personally relevant news." It's a great formula and seems to be picking up speed.Retrospect
Social media shouldn't be about eliminating tradition. In some cases, it's going to happen, but in a survival of the fittest kind of manner. In other cases, like the launch of PitchEngine in a few days, social media may help bring traditional media closer to next generation methods of engagement. Whatever the scenario, the game is changing and it's yet to be determined how it will end up.
Maybe Jason Calacanis can put his emotion into keeping newspaper a "more intimate" thing than a blog post. Or maybe newspaper should look at why it's working. Hmmm...sign up to receive my local news of choice via email or some other easy-method of delivery? Seems pretty simple doesn't it? Generate ad revenue by targeting readers with specialized interests? Could be a no-brainer. Thank you Jason Calacanis for shedding some light on the state of media.
Original post on the PitchEngine Network.