Saturday, September 24, 2005

What This Town Needs is a Really Good Five Cent Blog

Mr. Misanthrope (that's me...well sometimes) spent some quality time at the NewWest "launch party" Thursday Night at the ABQ Press Club. I spent most of the evening hiding out in the endless nooks of the building, but also had a number of refreshing conversations. I guess because the "launch" was for a blog (NewWest is an multi-noded Intermountain West blog, and yeah my wife is responsible for the ABQ/SF node) much of the talk was about this new-fangled blog thing.

Of course, on one level the discussion was embarrasing in that backward ABQ, provincial way: "Wow, what the hell are these here blog things anyway?" ala a more sophisticated town circa 1999 or so. Still, it beat the hell out of talking about corn dogs at the State Fair.

Generally what I got from the whole shindig, besides too many free beers to count, was an appreciation that there are plenty of folks ready to finally jump ship altogether from the mainstream media (MSM). Right now the only worthy print media in town is the Alibi, and most folks agree that their political coverage is about as good as it's ever been. Tim McGivern has been doing very good work. Still, the problem is that the Alibi only comes out once a week, meaning about four/five pages of decent hard-copy political coverage per seven days. Election season or no, that's unacceptable.

Meanwhile, everybody knows the Journal is crippled by an overarching political stance somewhere between Barbara Bush and Joseph McCarthy and nobody reads the Tribune (their circulation is about on a level with this pitiful blog at this point). And that's where the blogs fit in. It's taken a while, but both readers and writers around here seem to have finally figured out that blogs aren't just for intensely narcissistic whack jobs anymore. Okay, maybe they are, but that doesn't mean they also can't be a venue for good reporting/writing not found elsewhere.

Far more importantly, people are starting to READ this blog shit! Once the eye-rolling and snickering over blogs stop, some folks are hankering down for some blogtime. I'll use me as an example: For about two years now I've read DailyKos every day, afternoon and evening. Then I put Wonkette, Metafilter, Fark and some other national sites in the mix and pretty soon I was spending 90+ minutes a day.

Then I went local. Someone told me about DukeCityFix and my wife got on board with NewWest. More time is spent. And here's the part where Scientists might want to start taking notes for any studies they are performing on the workings of those with below-average intelligence.

After about two solid years of reading all this stuff, I distinctly remember having the epiphany "hey, DailyKos is a blog!...And Metafilter, and Wonkette"...They're like politically/socially directed Google-blogs gatekeeping all the other like-minded blogs!"

Hey, I never claimed to be smart or original. Basically, I had the same thought millions of others had about five years earlier. Maybe I've been living in ABQ too long. So Wonkette is rich, and I'm starting a blog.

I digress because, well because I tend to digress alot. It's a blog, sue me. The rather shaky point of my personal memoir interjection is that maybe alot of other folks are making this brain synapse leap. Using the blog gateway drugs of DailyKos, et. al., we're ending up at places like DukeCityFix (which is doing great work by the way). And, despite my own simple-mindedness, these people tend to be educated, involved, creative and productive.

Which is where the advertising comes in. Now I teach middle-school and know as much about Advertising/Marketing as I do Quantum Physics. I couldn't sell a car to an American, or Flood Insurance to a Lousiana coastal resident. Still, isn't it true that if you have an audience of educated, involved, creative and productive folks they might have some money to buy stuff with?

Now me, personally, I've avoided paying for web content like it's heroin on a schoolyard. I reject Salon and Slate just because one of them starting charging for stuff and they both start with an "S". One reason I hate the ABQ Journal is their outrageous rate for content. Now the New York Times is charging ($49.95! a year) for their columnists' musings. As a cheapskate, I've loved the Net for so long because of its anarchical inexpensiveness. Now, Maureen Dowd is for sale.

But to answer your ultimate question: what the point, Scot?, I ask: Wouldn't most of us pay just a little bit to find out the real news on Albuquerque? Especially since we don't get it often enough anywhere else? I see that the Alibi has increased their own blogging, and Tim McGivern's blog piece on a recent Mayoral forum was great reading. Wouldn't even a cheapskate like me pay a nickel for that?

And what about Martha's Body Bueno (a retailer I pick simply because I like saying the name five times really fast)? Wouldn't she/they invest a bit into a site visited by educated, involved, creative and productive 'Burqueans?

I have been called by some over the years as the ultimate master of stating the obvious, and here I've spent about 1500 words doing just that. I could just use the excuse that it's a blog and you can (and probably have) change/d the channel, but maybe I'm not the only one having this technologically-delayed reaction. Maybe something is really happening. To give the Journal a shot, I drop by their site from time to time, and have noticed they have started blogging. With some exceptions the blog entries are pathetically weak. Still, they think they need to blog. I'm not a journalistic carnivore, but I sense blood in the water. Journalistic comrades: you have nothing to lose but your word count chains! Let's see what's really going on in this town, Molly Ivins-style!

I've got a nickle burning a hole in my pocket waiting.

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