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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

 
*This post will stay at the top of the page for a while. Please scroll down for newer material --- digby


Island in the stream (featuring Lenny Bruce and Glenn Greenwald)

 by digby

It's that time of year ....



Just before he broke the biggest story of the year, Glenn Greenwald wrote a stirring defense of independent, reader supported journalism and the blogosphere ecosystem that has sustained him through the years:
Ever since I began political writing, I've relied on annual reader donations to enable me to do the journalism I want to do: first when I wrote at my own Blogspot page and then at Salon. Far and away, that has been the primary factor enabling me to remain independent - to be unconstrained in what I can say and do - because it means I'm ultimately accountable to my readers, who don't have an agenda other than demanding that I write what I actually think, that the work I produce be unconstrained by institutional orthodoxies and without fear of negative reaction from anyone... 

For that reason, when I moved my blog from Salon to the Guardian, the Guardian and I agreed that I would continue to rely in part on reader support. Having this be part of the arrangement, rather than exclusively relying on the Guardian paying to publish the column, was vital to me. It's the model I really I believe in.

It is an indispensable factor in my independence. It enables me to work far more effectively by having the resources I need and to spend my time only on the work which I actually believe can have an impact. 
  
It keeps my readers invested in the work I do and keeps me accountable to them. And it's what enables me to know that I'll be able to continue focusing on the issues and advancing the perspectives which I think are vital regardless of who that might alienate. I've spent all of this week extensively traveling and working continuously on what will be a huge story: something made possible by being at the Guardian but also by my ability to devote all of my time and efforts to projects like this one.   
--- Glenn Greenwald, June 2013
I don't pretend to be even remotely in the same league as Glenn --- and even feel a little bit silly evoking his words on my own behalf --- but I do think that the principle he expressed in that piece is a valuable one. And it's one this old country blogger believes in too. In fact, I depend on it.


I was reading this interesting piece by Alexis Madrigal called "The Year the Stream Crested" over the week-end, which discusses how the online media model for the past couple of years has been characterized by immediacy, quickness and ... nowness. He talks about the rise of "the stream" with twitter, facebook and a myriad other neat new applications all dedicated to warp speed real time connectivity between individuals and communities. It was a natural evolution from the stodgy old blogging of the previous decade --- but Madrigal senses something about to shift once again:
Nowadays, I think all kinds of people see and feel the tradeoffs of the stream, when they pull their thumbs down at the top of their screens to receive new updates from their social apps. 
It is too damn hard to keep up. And most of what's out there is crap.
He lays out the evidence that people are getting overwhelmed by the stream and surmises that they are seeking ways to pause, reflect and perhaps just think for a minute or two:
[L]ook at the huge viral successes of the year, Upworthy, ViralNova, TwentyTwoWords, FaithIt, and all the rest. They take advantage of the structure of the stream and the psychological problems it makes for people. 
These sites traffic in narrative porn. The whole point of their posts is that they are idealized stories with a beginning, middle, and end. They provide closure. They are rocks that you can stand on in the stream, just to catch your breath...
Here, I would humbly suggest, is where I come in.  I'm one of those rocks in the middle of the stream --- ancient, solid, dependable. You can always stop here to read a narrative account of various stories of the day, think for a few minutes about our political culture and maybe from time to time get a little information that helps you figure out what's going on in all this crazy chaos.

This site looks ridiculously anachronistic, almost a joke, I know. But perhaps that familiarity and simplicity is part of what makes it work. And I don't think that what I and David, Tristero and Dennis write about is anachronistic. We are deeply immersed in the nowness of the modern social media, but we try to bring a structure to the online political/cultural dialog. Every day we dive deeply into the stream, come back with our catches and prepare them for you in small batches. We try to help you sort through what's out there and give an independent spin on it that you won't get from the standard Villagers and political professionals who mostly inhabit the rarefied world of New York media and DC politics. We slow it down for you a little bit, give some perspective, provide some institutional memory and historical context from the point of view of the average American.

All of this is to say that the reader supported model of independent blogging still has a place in our media ecosystem, one that people who are looking for voices outside the mainstream can support directly. And I need that support from you to keep doing it.

It's a great privilege to be able to write every day (and I do mean every day) and to be allowed to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it.  It's only possible because of the support I receive from my readers, and I thank each and every one of you for your kind generosity through the years.

If you have your wallets out to buy some online Christmas gifts, perhaps you could see your way clear to throwing a few bucks toward keeping this old rock going for another year.




Oh, and Happy Hollandaise, everyone.


*If you'd like to send a little something via snail mail, the address is in the column on the left.

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