Glenn asks if blogging is going to lose its freshness as more (though still not many) bloggers start to make a living at it. He’s not worried, though:
…why are so many people doing it? Because it’s fun! And fun is good.
That’s a good reason to do all sorts of things. Press accounts tend to focus on making money (perhaps because many journalists dream of walking away from their day jobs, and editors?) but money is only one reason we do things, and usually not the most important. As people get richer, and technology gets more capable, I think we’ll see a lot more people doing for fun things that previously were done only for money. And I think that’s a good thing.
Speaking of journalists, it’s easy to see why they’re both fascinated by, and frightened of blogs and bloggers. I suspect that it’s because journalism is something that doesn’t seem to take much skill to do well (at least as well as its largely done), or if it is, most journalists don’t seem to be up to the job. It’s kind of like Hollywood (or has been, up to now)–it’s not so much what you know, or how much talent you have, but who you know, and how lucky you are. But the days in which a clueless journalism major could (by whatever means) get a job in the industry, and not have to worry about competition are coming, or have come, to an end.
The problem is that journalists, as a class, are rarely experts in any particular field. We always used to say in the tech proposal business that it was easier to take an engineer and teach her to write, than to take an English major and teach him engineering (there are exceptions, of course, particularly when the English major took some science classes on the side). Same applies to journalism, and any sort of expertise. The best journalists, particularly those who specialize in certain areas, such as science, or finance, are generally people who came from those fields to journalism, as opposed to being journalism majors.
It’s been noted that the blogosphere is chock full of people who know things (not to mention lawyers and law professors who know how to make logical arguments, against which many journalists are utterly helpless, at least to go by the Cory Peins, not to mention Mary Mapes of the world), and this was dramatically demonstrated to journalism’s detriment in the Rathergate affair. And now that bloggers have pulled the curtain from the journalism wizard, many journalists’ dreams (to whatever degree they exist) of “walking away” and just making money blogging will probably go unfulfilled, because it’s not at all clear what they will bring to the table.
For these reasons, if there is a flow of talent between blogging and professional journalism, I expect it to be largely in one direction–from the former to the latter–because that’s the direction that the osmotic pressure of the talent and knowledge will dictate.