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The New York Times’ Pathetic Case for the Decline of Blogging

If you feel that the New York Times has the pulse of the Internet then the answer to our headline would be yes. In fact, the Times article which ran on Sunday is titled “Blogs Wane As Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter”. That’s a pretty heavy statement especially when you are saying even the shortest blog post idea can be just as effectively conveyed in 140 characters or less. Maybe TweetDeck will end up being the “Anti-Twitter” by allowing over 140 characters?

The article is provocative for sure and focuses on younger Internet users (at least initially).

Like any aspiring filmmaker, Michael McDonald, a high school senior, used a blog to show off his videos. But discouraged by how few people bothered to visit, he instead started posting his clips on Facebook, where his friends were sure to see and comment on his editing skills.

“I don’t use my blog anymore,” said Mr. McDonald, who lives in San Francisco. “All the people I’m trying to reach are on Facebook.”

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

First off, nice job by the Times using Twitter as the catch for their story then shifting gears to Facebook (which actually makes more sense from the get go but who’s counting?). But back to the premise.

The notion is that blogs are losing much of their ‘shine’ to Facebook and Twitter. This ‘conclusion’ is reached based on the following bit of research.

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

This is where I call BS. How can you infer that blogs are ‘in trouble’ when you are looking at numbers relating to 12-17 year olds? Kids in this age range can’t pay attention to much anyway just because they are simply kids in that age range! It’s certainly not because they have found the better way to get their thoughts across. It’s because they found the easiest way, for now. A quote from a young lady proves this point.

Kim Hou, a high school senior in San Francisco, said she quit blogging months ago, but acknowledged that she continued to post fashion photos on Tumblr. “It’s different from blogging because it’s easier to use,” she said. “With blogging you have to write, and this is just images. Some people write some phrases or some quotes, but that’s it.”

As people grow and mature in how they think, the inevitable happens which is that you cannot usually get a point across or make an argument or defend a position in 140 characters or less. Even Facebook has limits. This idea that blogs are fading based on the findings about teens and blogging is pretty silly. In fact, the Times shows it’s engaging in some sensationalistic journalism because if you read on the stance about blogging being on the decline softens and pretty much goes away. That’s why this whole thing is nonsense really.

The blurring of lines is readily apparent among users of Tumblr. Although Tumblr calls itself a blogging service, many of its users are unaware of the description and do not consider themselves bloggers — raising the possibility that the decline in blogging by the younger generation is merely a semantic issue.

Ok, New York Times what is it? Are you pushing the beginning of the end of the blogging or are you jus trying to use headline journalism to get a few more pageviews? Hey, even if blogs are going the way of the dinosaur it looks like you guys picked up a few tricks along the way, huh?

Let’s look at what is really happening. People who are blogging because they are looking for an outlet of some kind are losing interest mainly because people are not reading their posts. There are usually two reasons for that; 1) they are not promoting the blog so the idea of “if you write it they will come” is in effect and that doesn’t work and 2) it’s very likely that their writing is awful or what they have to say isn’t interesting to anyone but themselves. Don’t blame the platform if you can’t write.

Finally the article looks to blogging in older folks and reports

While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent.

Here’s my conclusion. Right now, as the world exists today, with all of this still being relatively new to the masses, we like to think that everyone who is growing up on 140 character bits of communication and piecemeal updates via Facebook and location based services will continue to do so. I say they will but they will also embrace the fact that real communication requires more ‘meat on the bone’.

As a result you will see young people who really have something of substance to give to the world will come back to a blogging platform or one that resembles it. They will do it because they are thinking more analytically and realizing the limitations or annotated communications.

So if you are thinking that blogging is truly waning take a look at the reality and ignore the headlines. At least those from the New York Times.

  • http://www.danderoeck.com Dan

    Nice call out!

    First of all the New York Times lives in a fantasy world.

    Blogging is not only alive and well but thriving. Social Media is great for connecting people with similar interests and on a certain level, promotion.

    But IMO, to provide anything intelligible, requires more than 140 characters… sorry. And where do many of those tweets direct back to? Blogs.

    So, the whole idea of Facebook or Twitter replacing blogs borders on ludicrous.

    Anyway, that’s it for now.

    HAGD G2G.

    • PRadvice

      Good points! And you are right – blogging doesn’t work ‘if what people blog isn’t interesting to anyone.’

  • http://www.arcanasphere.com/ MrAndrewJ

    Oh wow. Look at #1 in the WordPress.org Media Publishers list.

    http://en.wordpress.com/notable-users/

  • http://blog.vipdesk.com Erika Blanchard

    Well said! I read that the other day – and thought blogging teens and blogging adults are apples and oranges – and I wanted to write a blog post on it as well, but had more important blog posts to write. Thanks for the post!

  • http://www.genuineinternetmarketing.com Shane Eubanks

    “When I was your age, I use to BLOG!”

    man, I suddenly feel old….

    BTW, good thing you didn’t solely post this on twitter or facebook, cause I never would have seen it. So thanks for blogging.

    I think I’ll go write a blog post about how subscription based “Daily” magazine apps are on the wane because kids can’t afford them and are use to things being instant and free anyway…………

  • Cynthia

    I had this on my list of potential posts to blog about so great minds. . .you know. What’s interesting about this is that just last week TweetDeck set up a system that allows you to post long (blog length) posts on Twitter – so I don’t know that blogging is dead so much as it’s evolving into something a bit different.