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December 20, 2008

What's Killing The Pittsburgh Bloggers?

What's Killing The Pittsburgh Bloggers? Five Gone in Five Months:
  • In December 2008, The Burgh Report, a mostly local-political blog, shut down. In this posting, the author says "Maintaining my anonymity was too much stress to deal with".

  • In November 2008, TheBurghBlog (Pittgirl) shut down. In this P-G article, she says "I don't know if I would be fired or forced out or what, and I'd like not to find out... I was anonymous for a good reason and when that was threatened, we pulled the trigger so to speak."

  • October 2008, Pittsblog shut down due to time constraints.

  • Sept 2008, The Conversation shut down due to time demands.

  • August 2008, Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman. shut down.
This is not a tragedy on the scale of three Americans a day dying in Iraq/ Afganistan. Doesn't even come close. But it is a negative. A few inchoate mumblings:

If bloggers are supposed to be part of the new media, and bloggers shut down when they develop a beat/ niche/ groove, what does that mean for public discourse? What does it mean for democracy?

I've ruefully said before that Pittsburgh is a Used To Be town. Used to be steel mills, used to be jobs, used to be a mill-hunky work ethic, used to be an airport, used to be a baseball team. How will Pittsburgh become a "City 2.0" if even our blogs are all succumbing to used to be?

The pattern in the blog closings is (1) threat of identification and (2) time constraints. I get the time issue. But there's never been allegations of falsehood, inaccuracy, or slander. Why is good blogging risky? Is this a Burgh thing? Why are Burgh Bloggers in the closet?


Rachel said...

I'm not sure if it's a Burgh thing. I know a ton of bloggers who don't even identify with their cities in terms of blogging, and are in awe when they realize we have such things as "PodCamp" and "Tweetups." While there seem to be a good number who are in the closet, there are a multitude more who are not. The fact that we even have a culture that allows us to recognize the "blog closings" in our city says a lot about how developed we are on that front.

In my opinion. :)

Bram Reichbaum said...

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think the anonymous bloggers were sort of the first out of the gate and showed us how it was done ... writing on public affairs in a brave, no nonsense voice. Then as time wore on, some actual humans picked up on their habits and made the blogosphere we all enjoy possible. However, the anonymi -- the dinosaurs, the Titans -- well, it could be their era is coming to a close. Or we could be pregnant with a second wave. Dunno.

I will agree w/ Rachel that the gang at Pittsburgh Bloggers makes a lot of great resources available, and there general tone is Pittsburgh-riffic. That's got to have an impact.

Brett said...

I've noticed in my blogging habits that I treat sites as projects, and sometimes those projects come to an end. I have confidence that the folks who have closed down will be back with a new blog down the line at some point.

Here's an interesting thought experiment--since time and burn-out are common issues for bloggers (presumably because we all have real jobs as well), what if a philanthropist decided to fund some bloggers to write full-time? It'd be kind of similar to what Mark Shuttleworth did with Ubuntu.

Do you think something like that would be a benefit to the blogosphere (or burghosphere)?

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