Shirky Debunks Blogging Bubble: Is There Any Marketplace The WSJ Can’t Misreport?

In “America’s Newest Profession: Bloggers For Hire“, a dubious piece published at the Wall Street Journal “Microtrends” blog, former Hilary Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn added no victories to his resume but maintained the WSJ’s status as king of business reporting organs.  Given the publication’s total failure to report on the realities of the economic downturn until its own desks were on fire, that was nothing to be proud of.

Along with co-author E. Kinney Zalsene, Penn upheld the Journal’s best traditions of junk research and hugely inflated valuations passing as gospel — only instead of credit markets, Penn misreported and grossly overvalued the bottom line of the blogosphere itself, spreading the hilariously wrong idea that the average blogger is making thousands of dollars a year “publishing their opinions”.

Called in by Xeni Hardin at Boing Boing to clean up the mess was the great author and internet analyst Clay Shirky, whose essay is here.

2 Responses to “Shirky Debunks Blogging Bubble: Is There Any Marketplace The WSJ Can’t Misreport?”

  1. May 13, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Wait as second….you mean I am the ONLY ONE earning thousands of dollars per year blogging about my opinions? 🙂

    However, since the dollar is damn near worthless now, I might as well be blogging for rupees.

    Actually, when it comes to blogging and related fields it seems to me you are either grossly overpaid or pathetically under-valued. I won’t say which category I fall into, but can say that I am busy enough and haven’t missed a meal. The thing that worries me is that for those of us who are enjoying our current work-from-home enterprises, doesn’t all this 2009 stuff remind you of something that happened, say, about a decade ago? There’s a lot of money concentrated in some pockets of online industry and some people are getting a nice nest egg going. But where is the hand holding the hatpin that’s going to burst THIS decade’s internet bubble? Seems to me this happened exactly 10 years ago give or take…are we due?

  2. May 13, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Sure, any time a new technology platform is hyped, it feels like a bubble is inflating. The greater the hype, the stronger the feeling. Valuations come and valuations go, but the important parts of communications technologies will persist. Writers and readers are still there, and their numbers grow.

    What seems strong now is the tendency of mainstream business to flat-out lie about important aspects of the ecosystem, such as when anyone conflates “blogging” with “individuals publishing their own opinions and journalism” – this was the main sin of that WSJ piece. The bulk of what the WSJ called “blogging” — the segment that is in fact paid best — is not more than the time-honored tradition of PR flackery moved onto social media.

    Much like with traditional media, in the blogosphere it remains the reader’s job to contextualize what is published and to understand what interests are being represented. The WSJ reminded everyone they were uniquely unqualified to perform that discernment or to contextualize, which is no surprise given their Wall Street DNA and the tendrils of sleaze that holds it together.

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