by John Hawkins | August 7, 2003 5:07 pm
So I’m reading this article by a Republican consultant named David Hill who says that he, “doubt(s) that blogging or any specific bloggers will match Limbaugh’s record-setting pace for gathering influence in the political process”. That quote reminds me of when Bill Gates said, “640K ought to be enough for anybody.” It just seems to be a very premature thing to say given the growing influence & readership of the blogosphere. After all, as Hill himself alludes to, if you would have claimed that Rush Limbaugh was going to have 20 million listeners one day back in the eighties, I’m sure there would have been plenty of people slapping you on the back and saying, “Yeah and one day there will be a Conservative cable news channel that pulls better ratings than CNN. Har, har, har, tell me another one.”
Now had that been all that Hill said, I wouldn’t have bothered commenting on his editorial. However, his reasons why the blogosphere wouldn’t grow as large as Rush were so asinine and ridiculous that I felt compelled to write about them the way you feel the need to remove a pebble from your shoe. Here is the short version of his 4 reasons why bloggers will never be as big as Rush….
“First, most bloggers don’t match what Rush calls “show prep.”
What the heck is this guy talking about? I can’t speak for anyone else, I bet you I peruse 50+ political websites per day, almost every day, to help put together RWN. But that’s not good enough for Hill who says…
“By comparison, many bloggers’ preparations for their stream-of-consciousness commentaries seem limited to reading the ruminations of other bloggers and scanning Internet news.”
Can I be frank here? The internet absolutely annihilates radio talk shows and TV as a source of news. I say that because you can scan select relevant news from a wide variety of sources in a minimum amount of time on the net, while you can’t do that on TV. For example, Instapundit covers more news in the average day than a Bill O’Reilly or Larry King discusses in a week. That’s not in any way, shape, or form, a put down of TV or radio, they’re just different, slower, formats.
Hill then goes on to complain about plain-jane websites not being as slick as Rush’s production values…
“Few (bloggers) seem to care about the principles of effective Web design. Some even seem to consider the primitive style of their blogs a badge of honor.”
I have two words for you Hill — Matt Drudge. He has the plainest, most basic, web site out there and he has pulled almost 7 million hits in the last 24 hours.
Hill then talks about Rush’s humor, “His use of highly produced song parodies and other irreverent spoofs keeps a segment of his audience entertained that would desert him if he were “serious” 100 percent of the time. Some bloggers use humor effectively to punctuate their commentaries; few exhibit Limbaugh’s comedic skill, timing and wit.”
While I could easily point to a large number of funny bloggers out there (Lileks, Frank J., & Scott Ott being 3 of them), it’s also worth nothing that there are plenty of talk show hosts with millions of listeners who aren’t particularly funny. I like Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy for example, but neither one of them is exactly a barrel of moneys on nitrous oxide.
Last but not least, Hill says “Limbaugh builds bonds with his audience”, while on the other hand, “the most influential political bloggers reveal few intimate details about their personal lives, making it more difficult for their readers to bond with them.”
Yes, Limbaugh occasionally talks about his private life, but not all THAT often. Lots of bloggers talk about their personal lives as much as Limbaugh. Personally, I’ve talked about getting blood clots, hitting a deer, getting in a life-threatening car wreck, my favorite music and movies, etc, & that’s not unusual in the blogosphere.
In summary, this article is so far off target that it makes me wonder if Hill even regularly reads blogs. My guess is that he probably read a couple of articles on the subject, took a quick look at a couple of big blogs, and then passed himself off as someone qualified to write about the whole “blog thing” for the The Hill.
Now I can’t pull a Nostradamus and tell you what the future of the blogosphere is going to be, but I am confident that the internet is going to continue to grow and that the audience sizes are going to grow with it. There are already what are essentially one man operations pulling huge audiences, (Drudge at almost 7 million and Fark at around 1 million per day come to mind). So I think that anyone who knows anything about the subject should be VERY reluctant to rule out the idea that elite bloggers could pass the 20 million mark within let’s say the next 15 years or so. Stranger things have happened as Rush could tell you…
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