This seems to be a day for me to be introspective about the meaning of blogging. The NYT Magazine article wasn't the main reason for this. It was pleasant gossip about a few of the gang who have made good. Really, it was only minor fuel to my introspection. More importantly, I have been trying to nail down some thoughts for a post about what will happen to Left Blogistan after the election. The post itself has been fluttering around in the back of my mind for some time now, usually being pushed off the page by current events. But lately I've been fighting a case of outrage burnout and finding it harder to write about the news. Rather than collapse into existential angst, I opted to write my way through the crisis. This seemed like a good time to drag an idea like that out and see what I could do with it.
So, in this state of mind, I ran into Jeralyn Merritt’s post "Are Bloggers Selling Out?" It's her response to an L A Times op-ed by Billmon, agonizing over the incipient commercialization of the blogosphere and wondering if it's time to close the bar. After conceding that commercialization is inevitable, but not necessarily the end of the world, Jeralyn says this:
I wonder how many bloggers would quit their day jobs to blog full time. For many of us, for example, professors, lawyers, political strategists and economists, it's our day jobs that provide us with context to the political events that we end up blogging about.
Is it different for free-lance journalist bloggers and student bloggers aspiring to be writers and journalists? I suspect very much so. Also, more and more reporters are blogging, so its getting difficult to tell who is a blogger and who is a reporter writing a blog on the side--using material that didn't or wouldn't fit in his or her day job's publication. I have no idea what percentage they comprise of political bloggers, but I think it's growing.
Jeralyn’s two groups, non-writing professionals and journalists, both use blogging to supplement their already satisfying intellectual lives. She misses completely that mass of bloggers, probably the large majority, who get far more out of their blogging than they do out of their jobs. For those of us whose dead-end jobs contribute nothing more than a paycheck to our lives—-money we can use to ransom back a few hours of our time—-blogging is the great escape. Blogging allows us a chance to overcome our intellectual isolation, anonymity, and lack of voice.
In answer to Jeralyn's question, I would quit my job, in a fraction of a heartbeat, without a second thought. Paid full-time blogging wouldn’t be a sell-out for me; it would be salvation.