Like Christie Blatchford before him, David Olive is one newspaper reporter that really doesn't understand blogs and the internet. In his recent article on TheStar.com ("Bloggers hitch wagons to the traditional media") he argues that... you know what? I'm not really sure what his argument is. He seems to be critical of bloggers and seems to be trying to defend traditional media.
The problem is that he doesn't do a good job of either.
After dismissing bloggers as nothing more than "Internet diarists," he applauds Newsweek, The Atlantic, Maclean's, The Nation and even his own Toronto Star for either hiring bloggers or turning their journalists into bloggers.
Just one paragraph later, he says that the reason these bloggers are turning to newspapers is because "there is little 'stumble upon' factor in blogsstrangers who come across a website by accident and become fans. You won't stumble across the website of prolific blogger Mark Steyn at the dentist's office as you will Chatelaine."
I find fault with this statement for a couple of reasons. The first is that if the major problem for bloggers is the lack of "stumble upon" traffic, why would writing for a newspaper website get them greater visibility than writing for their own website? Similarly, if blogs result in such little traffic, why is David Olive so happy to let us know about the prestigious print publications that now have their journalists spending time writing blogs on the publications' websites?
I'd also argue that blogs DO get a lot of stumble upon trafficboth from the fact that they link to other blogs (something David Olive doesn't seem capable of doing) and because of a little something called StumbleUpon. Most of the blogs I read today I read because I've come across them via a link from another blog. Either that, or I've found them via StumbleUpona tool that plugs into your web browser and lets you stumble around the internet.
I also question the validity of his statement that "the lifespan of the average blog is two to three months." I don't know where he got this information, and I'm not doubting it. I've got plenty of friends that have thought it was a good idea to set up a blog and given up after only a post or two. However, that's because the barriers to entry are so much lower for starting a blog than for starting a newspaper. If you honestly want to compare failure rates, how many people have given up trying to start a nationwide print publication after coming up with an initial idea and perhaps drafting one or two articles?
David Olive might declare that the war is over and that the mainstream media have won it, but I disagree.
I don't think there was a war in the first place. I think there was an evolution, and that the media everywhere is changing. Bloggers are thinking more like journalists, while traditional journalists and editors are thinking more like bloggers. If anything, the borders between the two are blurring.
For a guy writing an online article with a comments section (despite the lack of links), he's doing a pretty good job of not understanding what a blog is or how it works.