An interesting battle of the blogging titans was covered in the “Bits” section of today’s New York Times. It’s basically an exchange between popular technology bloggers (and blog owners) Michael Arrington and Rafat Ali. Their differing views are worth examining because they touch on a hot button issue in blogging and journalism: How are new for-profit business models impacting blogging and the journalistic integrity of bloggers?
In their personal scrap Mr. Arrington and Mr. Ali are tackling the difficult question of profitability models for blogging. Mr. Arrington seems to favor a monopoly approach, where blogs are brought together to form a kind of trust to benefit everyone. Mr. Ali, on the other hand, is apparently attempting to attract venture capital support for individual blogs to create verticals targeting niche markets.
What their disparate visions don’t directly address is the individual blogger who either doens’t get paid, doesn’t get paid enough to do it for a living, or has no intention to blog for money. What will happen to these independents as blogging becomes more “professional”, increasingly vetted, and commercialized? In short, is blogging worth paying attention to and will it survive intact if it doesn’t attach itself to a business model of sorts?
And what about the bloggers on this blog (myself included), for example, who get paid to talk about a particular project we are engaged in or an area of news/media expertise. Does the fact that we get paid by somebody else – in this case the Knight Foundation – influence how we choose to talk about our work and the quality of our blogging? And is this approach a business model that can and should be sustained?
Paid vs. unpaid, blogging syndicates vs. indpendents, for profit and advertising supported vs. free? All important questions that represent a variety of visions for blogging.
As blogging becomes more closely integrated with traditional journalism, and mainstream media struggles to find new and better business models which include blogging, this seems like an important discussion to have. So let’s have it…
What is your vision for the future of blogging and appropriate business models?