How Popular Blogs and Mainstream Media Appear The Same

I’m in the unique position as a blogger who interacts with journalists, popular ‘A-list’ blogs, and PR firms who present new stories and I’ve observed a trend that Popular Blogs and Mainstream Media appear the same I first started this discussion on Friendfeed, and now it continues here.

In 2005-2006 the discussion around blogs was it’s potential threat to ‘kill’ mainstream media, newspapers, and magazines. As a result, mainstream media responded back, sometimes with negative attacks like ‘attack of the blogs‘. Segregation was impossible and eventually groups within mainstream media outlets started to create blogs on their own, often covering the technology sector or political arena, and many were used as a ‘personal column’ or a place to get more millage out of stories that were cut from editorial.

Taking a closer look at the bloggers themselves, while there is certainly a longer tail of content (specific and niche blogs that will barely get a mention in niche magazines) yet the top blogs (A-listers) resemble the same editorial structure as mainstream medium or an editorial columnist. For example, some of the top tech blogs have a team of journalists/bloggers who cover different areas, there’s often a senior editor who reviews, shapes, or verbally let’s the authors know the direction of the site.

See for yourself according toTechnorati’s top 100 blogs, you’ll notice that a majority of them are written by teams. Only a few are written by individuals, for example, out of the first 50, I only recognize Seth Godin, Robert Scoble, and Heather Armstrong’s Dooce.

Godin, Scoble, and Armstrong’s publishing styles really that unique, as for decades, mainstream media has had editorial columns ‘opinions’ from senior editors, to write rambunctious, irreverent articles. Why? Unique opinion drives controversy –or at least new perspective– that attracts eyeballs. In many cases, the top blogs (either by team or individual) reflect that same editorial slant, in this case, we just call it “opinion”.

Taking a look at the Public Relations industry, who are often asked to help influence coverage of their clients announcements, many times, they build relationships and interact with the top blogs just as they would SF Chronicle, the Mercury, or NYTimes.

So what’s the difference between today’s mainstream press and a-list blogger ‘teams’? Is it quality? Not always. Is it timeliness? It varies. Is it the ability to leave comments? both styles have comments available. Is it personality? It depends.

Perhaps the primary difference is the difference in niche (long tail) content written from first hand sources, and secondly, who will respond and leave comments on this post, I’ll be it’ll be primarily bloggers, not mainstream media folks.

I prescribe to the believe that this evolution is natural, a new medium has been born, and with it comes a shift in power –human traits to organize and band together stem from our earliest tribal instincts. Not much has changed

Peter Kim connects the dots in the comments, and notes that the blog PaidContent was just purchased by the mainstream media group Guardian for a cool $30MM.