Bob Swipe is characteristically droll and perceptive on the subject of The Girl With A One-Track Mind and her recent difficulties; and also on the self-evident superiority of Spinsterella's blog to The Girl's. I don't want to stay in a solipsistic quagmire, musing about the Nature And Future Of Blogging, and the whole Old/New Media thang; and I promise this is going to be the absolutely final reference to all those mad women at The Independent. (No links. Just Google "Mary Dejevsky gynaecology" and stand back.)
Small Boo was in Hong Kong over the weekend, and came back with a couple of the UK Sunday broadsheets. Now, I scan the UK press quite intensively via the WWW; but there is still something different about reading a paper. Because you're not choosing to summon up discrete articles, you get an overall view of the whole product; as the advertising slogan for the News of the World used to declaim, "All human life is there".
Essentially, most articles in a modern newspaper fall into one of three categories: news; comment/analysis; and lifestyle. Now, news is one area where old media has an edge over blogs, and will do for some time. It's a question of resources and access: we don't have a Murdoch expense account; we don't have accreditation; we won't get embedded with the Marines. Yes, individuals can get an invite to the party with their cellphone footage of the 7/7 attacks; but, despite the efforts of Matt Drudge and his ilk, the networks and the big corporations still run the show here.
Comment/analysis (which, I suppose, is the sort of ground on which I've pitched my tent) is a greyer area. In theory, all you need is a basic level of subject knowledge, and smattering of critical intelligence. In practice, the big guns have the advantage, because they have access to raw material ahead of us. I can't come up with any serious analysis of the Booker longlist, because I can't afford that many hardbacks, and some of them haven't even been published yet. However, as producers start to realise that word-of-blog is a decent selling tool, they're starting to send pre-release review copies of books, CDs, etc to certain bloggers; doubtless this practice will continue, and increase. But I'm not the literary editor of the New York Times and I know it.
But when it comes to lifestyle, I think something interesting is going on. Newspapers are full to gag-reflex point with columns in which middle-class journalists tell us about how amusing their children are. In small doses, this can be interpreted as a quasi-sociological snapshot of modern life. In practice, it gives an entirely warped view of what's going on, because all these views are expressed by journalists, who by definition are not normal. (This is not a dig at hacks; it would be ridiculous if all these columns were written by architects, or butchers, or redheads, none of whom, collectively, are 'normal' either.)
People have joked about how banal these Polly Filler columns are; bloggers have proved this is one area where they have the edge, because bloggers are amateurs, and come from a much wider range of backgrounds and lifestyles. But what's freaked out some journalists is that rather too many of these lifestyle bloggers - stand up Spinster again, but there are plenty more of you out there - are equally good, if not better, as writers. So Old Media has a choice. It can co-opt them: whether to turn them into 'real' journalists/authors, thus compromising their objectivity; or to add blogs to their own outlets. Or it can follow the lead of The Independent and make feeble squawking noises from the sidelines.
It's fairly clear which course is in the best interests of Old Media. And as someone who was working in various manifestations of that media for 15 years before I started blogging, I've got no scruples if someone offers me an inducement to extend in a cross-platform direction. But I think The Girl's experiences indicate that it's not always going to be a smooth transition. In other words, Spinster - if someone comes waving a cheque, you're worth it, but don't jump in head-first.
Unless you fancy him, of course.