: Instapundit is two years old today.
Now I’ll confess that when I started blogging a mere month and a half after Glenn Reynolds started, I resisted Instaworship. I wondered why there was all this blogfawning over him. I wondered who’d clicked and made him God.
Of course, I soon found out and joined the chorus. It’s because he reliably delivers the quality links and information that we come to count on weblogs to give us. He’s quick about it (reading weblogs has made me only more impatient with dragging-it-out, damnit-would-you-get-to-the-point newspaper leads and TV magazine stories). He’s generous with his links and audience. And he’s a damned nice guy.
: But here’s the point: In just two years, he has built a presence that is significant in the bigger media world.
Instapundit has more traffic every month than certain major magazines I could name whose online sites have (a) tons of content, (b) tons of promotion, and (c) big brands behind them.
His unique audience is significant. At its height, during the war, Instapundit had 1.6 million in its audience; that’s the circulation of the magazine I created, Entertainment Weekly. It took EW 10 years to reach that level (and a $200 million investment!!). It took Glenn less two years and a a few grand. Of course, Instapundit is free and magazines cost money and so the comparison on the basis of popularity is unfair. But the comparison on the basis of influence is quite fair.
Or look at the numbers another way: That size of audience would make Instapundit the third biggest newspaper in America, beating out the NY Times. Again, the comparison is unfair (newspapers get that circulation every day; he gets it over a month). But still, the point is the same:
Instapundit is an influence. So are other weblogs. So are weblogs as a whole.
Just yesterday, I had a pleasant lunch with a magazine editor who could not be talked into doing a story on weblogs. A few newpaper-editor friends of mine make fun of me for blogging and poo-poo the phenom.
At your peril, folks, at your peril.
The truth is that weblogs are an influence to be reckoned with.
No, Instapundit and even weblogs as a whole do not reach a huge percentage of the population… yet. But the next time you hear someone say that answer with this: Weblogs do reach just as big an audience as most magazines and most newspapers.
And they reach a powerful audience; why else are presidential candidates rushing to blog themselves?
: One more point: This week, I spoke with Matt Welch about a story he’s writing and, as is my want, I made a point that had nothing to do with what he was asking and so I’ll recycle it here:
There are three revolutions going on in media. The first is about opinion, the second about business, the third about audience.
FoxNews is revolutionizing TV news not just because it adds perspective and thus life to news — and gets ratings do it — but also because it is getting the news to us without expensive produced pieces and thus with more live excitement. TV news will never be the same — that is, never as expensive — again.
The Week magazine is set to revolutionize magazines not just because it, too, is opinionated but because it is produced with an incredibly small staff. (When I launched EW, I was proud to have built the smallest edit staff in Time Inc. — a weekly with fewer employees than even the monthlies: 60. The Week has a total staff, edit and business, of 24.) I know the editorial head of one major magazine company (not mine) who slavers over The Week’s masthead; he will try to replicate it.
Instapundit and weblogs are revolutionizing media not just because they are opinionated but because they are so incredibly cheap. No, weblogs will not replace reporters who have the means — time, training, support, salaries — to get the news. But weblogs will replace some media efforts (look at the value PaidContent and IWantMedia bring to their trade readers and Gawker and Gizmodo bring to their wider audiences). And webloggers will replace some editors for — individually and in aggregate — we do a good job of editing the world: We’re fast; we’re thorough; we’re fun; we’re everywhere.
Media is going to go through big changes because the audience is gaining control over their content; there is far more competition for our time; ad revenue to any single entity is decreasing across all media; costs must thus be reduced. Weblogs are part of that story. Instapundit is part of that story. And the audience is the star of that story for that’s the real revolution here: The audience is creating content, too, and that affects the value of the content the big boys produce. The audience and its content have value, too. That is the real moral to this birthday story.
: Usage update: I always used to say “as is my wont” and then some copy editor in my deep past convinced me it was “want” and that’s what I typed above. A diligent reader says it’s “wont” and looking things up, I think he’s quite right. So I stand corrected.