There's something happening here | WisCommunity

There's something happening here

The past week in the Blogosphere has been interesting. There's a certain amount of evidence that there's a major shift going on in the progressive blogging world, and none of it is good from my viewpoint.  Consolidation and closing up shop rules.

  1. On Friday the influential progressive blog Open Left unceremoniously shut down.The proximal cause for this was that founder Chris Bowers decided to take a real job at DailyKOS, and that once he had done so, there was nobody willing to deal with the daily slog that comes with running a lefty web site.  While things were running well, Bowers had said that to run such a blog all you  need "is no children nor any one else to support, no long-term ambitions, and no desire to do anything else with your time.".  I can relate to this, since I go through more or less the same problem on a smaller scale every day.  
  2. As I am sure you all know by now, , and is going to be in charge of content for the AOL web properties.  I'm not sure what that means for properties like and the others at AOL that have tended to be middle of the road politically.  It's also not clear what that means for Huffington Post, which has been becoming much less a progressive political site and more of a lifestyle and gossip site - I can hardly wait for the Wisconsin Patch sites to start carrying "who wore it best" news and exposes of the sex lives of prominent cheddarheads.
  3. The Capital Times bought the enterprise - I'm not sure what to make of that, but it's yet another consolidation.
  4. The SoapBlox web platform has been bought by the company (WareCorp) that has been providing support for the platform. SoapBlox has been used as the primary platform of choice for state political blogs around the country (not this one, but most of the other state-wide blogs).  This is just a small consolidation, but it's interesting in that this now makes SoapBlox yet another product of a Minnesota/Russian company rather than a completely independent publishing platform (and it's not clear what the long-term plan for this platform will be - it may be open sourced according to the company - not clear at all at this point).

This is all just a mirror of the media consolidation that is happening around the country - but it raises a few questions -

  • Why do most left-wing media outlets struggle to have any funding or support?  Keith Olbermann is moving from a growing media juggernaut (which he helped get moving) to a struggling network.  HuffPost is being absorbed by a struggling internet corporation. Yet Fox News gets funding and support at the highest levels - I understand that progressive politics are not the favorite of the business community, but why do progressive media outlets continue to struggle (and even some of the more balanced outlets such as public radio and TV have to struggle to keep their funding because they're seen as left-leaning). 
  • Why can we not, as a progressive community, develop the same sorts of think tanks, media outlets, and "grassroots" groups that the right builds all the time?  It's not like there are not progressives with money, and it's not like there are no progressive business owners- why is there no progressive Chamber of Congress?
  • Can we start to build a progressive infrastructure that makes it as easy for someone to earn at least a meagre living working for progressive causes?  I write for several publications and an afternoon of flipping burgers would make me more money than a month of writing and organizing.

I don't know the answers to any of these, but I keep asking the questions.


February 8, 2011 - 5:26pm