introducing readers to writers since 1995

July 31, 2005

Hello Daily News Readers!

by Ron Hogan

If you've just read about Beatrice in Dawn Eden's "Blog On!" column, welcome--scroll your way down, and you'll see nearly a week's worth of posts. Dawn's column emphasized the rise of author blogs, though, so I've got a long list of them over to the right of the home page--a list that continues to grow as I discover new sites and new writers.

I also wanted to mention something that came up during the interview but didn't make the final cut, which is that a lot of bookbloggers I know are starting to develop professional writing careers as well. Laila Lalami of has a short story collection, Hope & Other Dangerous Pursuits, coming out this fall, right around the time that my book (yes, it really is called The Stewardess Is Flying the Plane) shows up in bookstores. Maud Newton and Sarah Weinman are two other online literary commentators who have had short stories published in magazines and anthologies, and they're sure to have further publishing successes as well.

I mention this as a counter to what you may have heard in the mainstream media dismissing bloggers as frustrated amateurs. As Richard Posner points out in his NYTBR cover essay, such attacks are simply an indication of the economic threat that blogs pose to media institutions. Posner does get the argument a bit wrong, though:

"The bloggers are parasitical on the conventional media. They copy the news and opinion generated by the conventional media, often at considerable expense, without picking up any of the tab. The degree of parasitism is striking in the case of those blogs that provide their readers with links to newspaper articles. The links enable the audience to read the articles without buying the newspaper. The legitimate gripe of the conventional media is not that bloggers undermine the overall accuracy of news reporting, but that they are free riders who may in the long run undermine the ability of the conventional media to finance the very reporting on which bloggers depend."

The "parasitical" bit is not exactly false, but rather than look at bloggers as "free riders," I'd compare us to oxpeckers, providing the rhinoceroses of Big Media with life-sustaining services even as we rely on them for content ideas. Links on blogs don't enable people to read newspaper articles without buying newspapers--newspaper publishers do that by putting articles on their websites. What blogs do is steer readers towards those articles; in effect, we create readerships. The best of us can create readerships for ourselves because we have something to say that Big Media isn't saying--and that's becoming increasingly true in the world of literary criticism, or even just appreciation. If you like what you see here, I hope you'll stick around... and I also urge you to explore the links you see down the side of the page.

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