Today my blog is one. Hurrah!
Looking back, one thing I've noticed is that over the year I've become less reliant on the printed media for inspiration. In the early days, I'd often write something in response to what I'd read in the paper (in my case The Times from Monday to Friday, The Guardian on Saturdays and the Observer). But now, as far as written media is concerned, I almost invariably post in response to what I read on the web.
I've discovered that there's a lot more expert opinion and stimulating writing on the web than there is to be found in newspapers. Blogs tend to go deeper and more knowledgeably into particular areas but do so in a way that is more immediate, more involving and less hieratic.
The expertise point must be down to blogs being written generally by people who have been intimately close to what they're writing about - having worked in the field, for instance - something that is rarely true for journalists writing full-time for newspapers. And when bloggers write about their life they're generally dealing with what is known in media circles as 'real' life, i.e. it's not conducted whilst existing within a media circle. In the right hands, this is more interesting material.
The style point is surely a function of blogs' intrinsic interactivity. The medium is more soap-box than pulpit. It's open to plenty of direct and immediate questioning. I think this produces a more confiding, tentative and conversational style, one that draws readers in whilst asking for their forbearance in advance and inviting a response. Having written a bit for the print media back in the '90s, I can tell you soap-boxes are far more fun than pulpits - if worse paid. And more fun for readers as much as writers.
I don't think this means newspapers are going to die. But I do think they're going to have to raise their game. Perhaps they should do more of what blogs find it difficult to do? One thing might be to print a greater number of lengthier articles, ones that are more easily read on paper than on screen? More Sudokus and crosswords too? And er...
Anyway, a sincere thank-you to all of you who gather around my patched-up, ramshackle soap-box, whether to encourage, barrack, jump up alongside or just pass the time of day.