Are the Blogs all that new a media shift?There is a lot of discussion these days about what the blogosphere means. The MSM is largely attacking them. The major bloggers are making the case that the better blogs are filling the void the MSM was foolish enough to create. Many people are taking their crack at a blog in the hopes that they will get fame and fortune on the new media.... most are failing. Some of the MSM are recognizing the importance of the new media and responsibly covering it.
A point I have not seen made much is the parallel between this situation and early talk radio. Rush was laughed off until his listenership got so big that he couldn't be ignored. The MSM then tried to discredit him. New players came in to try their hand at it... most failed. The ones that survived since are largely growing in listenership and many have a significant influence on what gets discussed at the dinner table and over the water cooler and some of the members of the MSM give them credit where credit is due and cover them responsibly.
The parallels are staggering. I predict the outcome will be the same. The BIG difference is the cost of entry. The almost non-existent cost of entry to the blogosphere is both good and bad. It is good in that I have a blog (with no intention of being famous for it btw) and I could never have gotten a radio show to fail at. The bad news is the number of new blogs every day is staggering so I am sure there is a lot of real talent out there that I have no hope of finding and reading.
Blogging will take it's place beside newspapers, radio, TV, magazines and will grow in its influence for a while given that it is the newest of new media. Newspapers won't go away unless they refuse to change and blogs will influence even the most recent "old" media, talk-radio.
There is one other difference..... it inspired some people to decide to reach out in a similar way via the latest fad geek toy: iPod. Podcasting is different in that it is reaching a group of people that were heretofore unreached. How many teenagers are reading the blogs (at least the blogs about world politics, religion, war & peace, etc.)? I suspect not many. Most teenagers don't read anything they don't have to unless it concerns their hobbies or pop culture. I did to a small degree but I didn't get serious about reading the newspaper on a regular basis until I was in my 20s and didn't start reading multiple papers until my late 20s.
How many teenagers have an iPod? Will they learn from the podcast phenomenon or just use podcasts to find new music and figure out which movies they want to go to? I have no idea but if this one hits it could change the demographics of the voting populace and possibly who those demographics vote for.
One last point: if I were an executive at a major music label I would be really worried about my job. With home studios approaching a quality such that the average listener cannot tell the difference between pro and semi-pro and the rise of the podcasts as an early distribution method to attract fans, new artists can get directly to the audience without the big boys. Add to this the ability to make direct deals with folks like Apple's iTunes Music Store and I can see the day when kids will say "what's a record label" the way they now say "what's an 8-track".