One of the things that I like about the expansion of the blogosphere is this interview thing. Alex Belth does a lot of them as well. Interviews of people who do the real work, whether they are authors or athletes or involved in the running of teams…. these are the kind of in-depth pieces that appear to be on the way to being extinct in the mainstream media.
One of the things I’ve commented on recently, (not here, in the real world, where I possess the gift of speech) is the shrinking of magazine and newspaper articles and columns. I read fast, and in the last couple of years especially, a full-size magazine article only takes me a couple of minutes to read. I can usually read the entire Sports Illustrated in about twenty, twenty-five minutes. Even National Geographic has really cut a lot of words out.
Here in the blogosphere, guys like Hank or Alex have no such limitations. They can ask a hundred questions, and post the entire transcript with no difficulty. I can write a thousand word column on whatever I like, and I don’t have to worry about it being cut to shreds by some editor, (partly because I am the editor), but also because it doesn’t cost me any more or less.
In the print-driven media, the cost of paper, bindings, ink, distribution… all of these things conspire to shorten and compress the work of writers. Of course, this also contributes to the downgrade of the product. Sometimes, depth is neccessary. It can be difficult to express the complexities of an issue when you are restricted to 750 words; and in many of today’s headline stories, (steroids, baseball’s financial issues, salary cap stuff), there is no substitute for information.
And this shrinking attention-span approach also demands that writers to do more interpreting for us. Now we don’t just get the story, we get what the story means; we get the writer telling us what Bonds says, and also that it’s a lie. It’s all wrapped up and packaged for us, and since we don’t have all the information, we can do little more than parrot the author’s conclusion.
Unless. Unless you are like me, and you want a little more, or need a little more. Then you turn to the web. What the mainstream media has failed to understand is that there is a market for good, in-depth writing. The continued influence of the blogosphere is all the evidence you need. Has any media conglomerate figured this out yet? Maybe, you could say that Bill Simmons’ columns on ESPN2 are evidence of some understanding. Or Gregg Easterbrook’s NFL.com work. Are we moving forward to a new organization or method of finding work for writers, where you can establish an audience and then get published? Maybe.
I know that I have done a lot of writing that has been read by a lot of people, using no traditional avenues of publishing. Something’s going on. And I like it.