What Happens When Blogs Grow Up

Toward the end of a post at Reuters about a change to its RSS feed content, Felix Salmon notes that Gawker seems to be making a move “away from being a big blog and towards competing directly with the likes of nytimes.com for serious online traffic.” He further predicts (and got Gawker owner Nick Denton to confirm) that the next step would be “to rejigger the home pages” of his blogs towards an edited format.

While Salmon calls this the beginning of the end of an era, that period that it marks the end of (for Gawker) is called “childhood.”

The blog is the microwave oven of the publishing kitchen:  it’s fast, convenient, and gets ideas heated up and out on the table quickly–without a lot of deliberation, mess or hassle.  A blog is a fantastic toolset for anyone who wants to get a site started quickly and publish with ease.

But it’s no surprise that when a publisher gets serious, it brings bigger appliances to bear.  Publishing done right creates experiences for readers.  The format of sequential entries is simplistic.  For any publication to get successful with a broader audience, it’s only natural that it must present not just a series of stories but a point of view on what’s important.  As Gawker’s traffic ambitions and business sophistication grow, so must its  presentation of itself to its audiences.

In this case, the surprise is not that publishers like Gakwer will grow up and out of the blog format:  the surprise is that this format has done so well for them for so long.

7 thoughts on “What Happens When Blogs Grow Up

  1. Lots of people complained about TC's re-design a year ago but it turned out well. Love the microwave analogy.Ben why don't you write a post on Andressen's burn-the-boats comment and how the Seattle PI has fared since doing that?

  2. Just because a site has comments and uses a blogging platform doesn't make it a 'blog.' TC, ReadWriteWeb, GigaOM, etc, became online news sites a long time ago. Salmon is way behind the times… Denton has said for years that Gawker sites are not blogs.

  3. Interesting post, and I think blogs that get popular/large following over a period of time will certainly topple the likes of the Nytimes.com (i'm convinced).Furthermore, how far are we from having our next Nobel Prize Winner who is nothing but a mere blogger from the bottom end of the “Long Tail” ?

    • Thanks Praz. What's changed with our new Publishing 2.0 digital landscape is that the deep specialists in content niches can have shelf-space. It doesn't make sense for the New York Times to cover a deep niche, like say “Web 2.0″ to the depth that a TechCrunch does — that just wouldn't be on-target for NYT's audience. But the audience for that content is still significant — and that creates an opportunity for niche specialists to own a topic. And, as you are noting, the opportunity for ordinary people to have extraordinary impact.

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