“Twitter killed the comments box star”

Phil BC of A Very Public Sociologist has written an interesting post with some sharp observations on the state of political blogging. He has devoted attention to the effect of the mainstream media on political blogs:

The top tier bloggers – you know who you are – lead existences virtually indistinguishable from ‘professionals’ who got into the papers the old way. Media-branded blogs like Comment is Free, Telegraph Blogs, The Staggers, and The Spectator have effectively hoovered up last decade’s explosion in creative political writing and have successfully used them to forge successful online brands. Time and again, their house bloggers tend to provide the most interesting (and infuriating) comment, which is why I and tens of thousands of others read them.

He has also made some interesting observations about the effect of Twitter on political blogs:

[Twitter] has restructured how blogging works too. Leave a comment? Why not tweet the blogger instead? Twitter killed the comments box star….. The rise of Twitter has definitely lowered the barrier of entry for anyone who wants to give political commentary a go. Whereas blogs offered a new opportunity for anyone willing to spend the time it takes to craft a post a ‘way in’, contributions limited to 140 characters or less have pulled that even lower. But in one of those ironies of history dialecticians revel in, the democratisation of comment has made it more difficult to make it as someone with a following. Twitter is a leveller – you, the woman in Yeovil, that nutty ex-Trot from Stoke and thousands of others all share the same “unique” selling point. Hence becoming a “somebody” with a respectable audience depends on more than composing natty sentences. It means playing the game. The interlocking networks of prominent bloggers and media commentariat have become the gatekeepers to large audiences. If you can land a berth or get some informal patronage, you’re in. Being in London is also a massive advantage. Theoretically you can still start off brand new and build up a following from scratch, but unless you get in/break in to the established networks in some way, more often than not your writing and your content will find the void its main audience. And, unfortunately, these networks can only crystallise further. There’s only so many paid jobs editing a prominent blog, or getting a blog on one of the outlets. The Laurie Pennys, Harry Coles and Owen Joneses are positions taken up by Laurie Penny, Harry Cole and Owen Jones. Even unpaid gigs on bigger blogs tend to be facilitated by networks that have grown up as blogging’s evolved. Does my stuff appear elsewhere because it’s sharply written and sharply observed? As much as I’d like to think so, connections, ties and friendships have at least as much to do with it.

Have a read of Phil’s article in full. It is worth it.