Blogging Andrew Sullivan
: Andrew Sullivan is speaking to the Online News Association. I’m just putting up quotes now… Will clean up and comment later (I have to be on a panel next)…. Talk about instant analysis….
: He is doing a superb job lecturing this audience on how to blog, explaining to them that they must consider themselves part of a community who will correct them and contribute to them.
: Best gag: “Will there be blogs that are purely fictional — and I don’t mean Eric Alterman?”
: “Whenever I wonder why I have not written a book lately [because he is blogging instead]…. I say this happens once in a lifetime: You don’t stumble across a new medium every day.”
: “I think of blogging as the first genuine innovation that came out of the Internet itself.”
: What sets apart weblogs, he says, is economics: He talks about the economics of thoughtful journalism: The New Republic has never made money and loses more. The Nation doesn’t make money.
“And then I experienced blogging as an alterantive. It staggers me to realize that last week, AndrewSullivan.com… is now reaching more people online than the magazine I used to edit, which is still losing… hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That’s a big deal… We haven’t just made the economics of journalism cheaper…. We haven’t just lowered the barriers to entry to journalism, we’ve completely revolutionized it.”
: “The overhead is minimal and the reach is almost infinite.”
: Journalists have longed for this day, he says — a world without editors. He told about having to rewrite a piece for the London Times — and now he can put his original online.
: “I think it’s going to get more revolutionary. We’re going to see self-publishing of books… and taking power away from editors and publishers and media magnates.”
: In the news media now, he says, the public “knows there is a man behind the curtain.”
: He says that the trend toward anonymity is dying. Tina Brown killed it a bit when she said that no one cared what The New Yorker says; they know there’s an individual there. Blogs extend that individual identity.
: “People trust [blogs]. Not because they are authorities but because they are subjected to scrutiny day in and day out and people decide whether they like them or not.”
: Andrew waxes wonderfully on the ability and necessity of bloggers being able to change their minds, being transparent and honest; that is the essence of their (read: our) appeal.
: “They introduce back into the public discourse provisional thinking.” We can change our minds. We can miss things. Others can have better ideas. “It recognizes the fallibility of the human mind and opens up to the wisdom of the communal mind.” That’s a whole new media dynamic, he says. Columnists and magazines have to wait to correct so they work to get it right now. Blogs, he says, don’t make that commitment… “Let’s continue that conversation onwards.”
: “It’s a much more modest mode of discourse… That modesty strikes a chord with people.”
: “It’s very, very modern. It’s postmodern…. It’s a combination of trends in modern thought and trends in technology.”
: “Interactive… this is not a monologue, it’s not even a dialogue, it is a conversation.”
Amen! I’ll say it again: News is a conversation.
” I’m just the recipient of a collective brain. I’m just a portal for the thoughts of other minds.” He says he spends 40 percent of his blogging time reading email from contributors to that conversation.
: “It’s more transparent than anything in journalism before.” He says that when you make an error, there is no shame in that. “In mainstream journalism,” he adds, “you have to climb down from your pedestal to correct an error and then climb back up again.”
: He says a blog must be read long-term. “It accumulates a voice… traditions… in-jokes… its own vocabulary.”
: He says he invented a t-shirt slogan: “Go ahead, fisk my blog.” Three people in the audience got it.
: “I feel like an old brick wall covered with ivy and I can’t cut it off… I used to take the weekends off but they wont’ let you.”
: If he were to start a new magazine, he’d find five of the smartest bloggers and put them on a web site “and tell them to go at it.”
: “The ultimate and most successful news blog in the business is Drudgereport.”
Andrew said he goes to Miami once a year for what he calls a “summit.” He says he studies Drudge because “it is by far the most successful blog in history…. He’s incredibly powerful.”
: Unlike talk radio, he says, weblogs try to talk to people who disagree with us.
: Talking about the ability to use blogs to challenge authority and using Iran as an example, he says: “I’d much rather live in a country where the most we have to worry about is Howell Raines rather than live under the thumb of Saddam Hussein.”
: Asked a good question about whether writing a blog affects his style and ability to write other things, Sullivan says yes. “It’s like the cuckoo in the nest. It crowds out other genres… I’m supposed to be writing this book and I can’t seem to get started.”
: Should blogging be taught in journalism schools? “Absolutely… That’s one sure way to kill it off.”