20200
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20100
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2020
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7

A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

“Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too.”

I read plenty of newsletters, but I don’t subscribe to very many. Often — especially in the case of the personal and quirky, and the less overtly news-pegged — I scroll through the archives of newsletters on the web and read several editions at a time.

It’s great. It’s like reading blogs.

Newsletters seem to have circled around from being the new blogs to being like blogs (but with posts that are emailed to readers). The web interface of any given public Substack is basically that of a blog. You can even set up comments. And there are subscription apps like Stoop that organize newsletters’ content as RSS readers did for blogs.

One reason we might see a resurgence of blogs is the novelty. Tell someone you’re starting a new newsletter and they might complain about how many newsletters (or podcasts) they already subscribe to. But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.

It’s been long enough now that people look back on blogging fondly, but the next generation of blogs will be shaped around the habits and conventions of today’s internet. Internet users are savvier about things like context collapse and control (or lack thereof) over who gets to view their shared content. Decentralization and privacy are other factors. At this moment, while so much communication takes place backstage, in group chats and on Slack, I’d expect new blogs to step in the same ambiguous territory as newsletters have — a venue for material where not everyone is looking, but privacy is neither airtight nor expected.

Blogs offer the potential to broadcast, but not too broadly. We might even see a breakdown where newsletters begin to focus more on individual personal stories and daily digests, while blogs will fill in the gaps of all that might be written about otherwise.

It is genuinely pleasant to scroll through Jason Kottke’s blog when I have no idea where else to click on the internet. It’s pleasant to scroll through the archives of various newsletters too. Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too. So why not start a blog?

Joanne McNeil is author of the book Lurking: How a Person Became a User, out next month.

I read plenty of newsletters, but I don’t subscribe to very many. Often — especially in the case of the personal and quirky, and the less overtly news-pegged — I scroll through the archives of newsletters on the web and read several editions at a time.

It’s great. It’s like reading blogs.

Newsletters seem to have circled around from being the new blogs to being like blogs (but with posts that are emailed to readers). The web interface of any given public Substack is basically that of a blog. You can even set up comments. And there are subscription apps like Stoop that organize newsletters’ content as RSS readers did for blogs.

One reason we might see a resurgence of blogs is the novelty. Tell someone you’re starting a new newsletter and they might complain about how many newsletters (or podcasts) they already subscribe to. But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.

It’s been long enough now that people look back on blogging fondly, but the next generation of blogs will be shaped around the habits and conventions of today’s internet. Internet users are savvier about things like context collapse and control (or lack thereof) over who gets to view their shared content. Decentralization and privacy are other factors. At this moment, while so much communication takes place backstage, in group chats and on Slack, I’d expect new blogs to step in the same ambiguous territory as newsletters have — a venue for material where not everyone is looking, but privacy is neither airtight nor expected.

Blogs offer the potential to broadcast, but not too broadly. We might even see a breakdown where newsletters begin to focus more on individual personal stories and daily digests, while blogs will fill in the gaps of all that might be written about otherwise.

It is genuinely pleasant to scroll through Jason Kottke’s blog when I have no idea where else to click on the internet. It’s pleasant to scroll through the archives of various newsletters too. Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too. So why not start a blog?

Joanne McNeil is author of the book Lurking: How a Person Became a User, out next month.

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Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

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Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Juleyka Lantigua   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

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Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

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Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

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Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

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Kevin D. Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

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Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

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Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

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Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

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Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

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Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

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Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

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Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

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Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

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Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

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