Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson — also the author of a book on the so-called “long-tail” phenomenon — has an interesting post on his blog, in which he notes that he spends most of his time reading the 150 blogs he subscribes to, and only reads something in a mainstream media outlet if a blog he is reading links to one. “If there’s something relevant to my interests in the Wall Street Journal, the daily NYT or some other news site, I assume one of the blogs I read will point me to it,” he says.
That could cause a sort of echo-chamber type of problem, of course (what if those other blog writers don’t read any mainstream media outlets either?). In any case, Chris says he reads blogs because they add something to the regular news or idea flow, in one of three ways: they add value with “a unique perspective or analysis,” they add it with unique information, or they add value by “providing a unique filter/lens on content available elsewhere,” (which sounds a little like number one).
As he points out, this is not just a smart strategy for blogs, “it’s a smart strategy for any content creator in an era where the tools of production and distribution are fully democratized and the marketplace is flooded with commodity competition.” I couldn’t agree more. And that applies in spades to newspapers and magazines, media formats that have been dying a slow death for the past 20 years, long before the Internet became a phenomenon. All the Web has done is to make the process more obvious, and speed up the rate of decay.
The reason Chris likes blogs is because they filter the news in all sorts of interesting ways, giving you dozens of different viewpoints — like having a newspaper edited by a whole pile of different people, instead of just one or two. And it gives it to you in “micro-chunks,” as VC Fred Wilson calls them. That’s appealing in all kinds of ways — ways that a newspaper isn’t.