By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

After the fall: Thinking about blogging in the post-social media era

Old-school blogger. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve been blogging since 2002, which makes me something of an expert on how the medium has changed over time. I’ve been thinking lately about some subtle changes I want to make to Media Nation now that social media has become an annoying afterthought rather than a primary means by which we distribute our work.

My approach before the rise of social media was to write some longish posts and some really short posts, the latter so that I could link to items I wanted to call people’s attention to. If you take a look at another early blogger who’s still at it, Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, you’ll see that he still does it that way. My own practice, though, was to stop writing very short posts at Media Nation — after all, that’s what Twitter was for. And if I had something a little bit longer that hadn’t quite congealed, I’d publish that at Facebook.

These days, when I write a more fully developed post, I’m promoting it at Threads, Bluesky, Mastodon, X/Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, which seems kind of ridiculous. If anything, it’s an incentive not to write. But I’m also rediscovering the utility of posting short items here. After all, there are nearly 2,300 readers who’ve signed up to receive new posts by email, and many of them may not even be on social media. (Email delivery of Media Nation is free, and it’s not the same as becoming a supporter for $5 a month, which of course you are encouraged to do.)

I find that I haven’t quite returned to the old days of writing one-liners à la Reynolds. Still, I’ve written a few brief updates recently aimed at calling your attention to one thing, such as this, this and this. And though I’m talking specifically about blogging, which seems kind of old-fashioned, it could pertain to newsletters, too. Newsletters tend to be long, but many include Twitter-like quickies at the bottom, which strikes me increasingly as a good idea.

When I was reporting on the early years of The Washington Post’s revival under Jeff Bezos for my book “The Return of the Moguls,” the Post was publishing every one of its stories on Facebook. They talked about a “barbell” and trying to entice readers on the Facebook side of the barbell into migrating across and becoming a paying customer on the Post side. Those days are long gone.

Charlie Warzel wrote a piece for The Atlantic the other day warning that social media is no longer working for news distribution, mainly because Facebook has de-emphasized news and Twitter has fallen into a toxic cesspool. Well, social is no longer working for self-published news and commentary either. Those of us who have kept up our independent presence through a blog or a newsletter should think of how we’re going to leverage that advantage.

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  1. Paul Bass

    I feel optimistic that our efforts to connect one by one directly to readers in a meaningful way will usher in a better era of web writing/reporting/journalism. Go Media Nation!

  2. I’m thrilled at the prospect of a resurgence in blogging. Since I started in 2001, it’s been quite a journey revisiting my old, brief blog entries.

    For me, the revival isn’t just about attracting more readers. It’s more about encouraging the practice of blogging itself. I’m interested in seeing the essence of blogging return to its roots, spurred on by people’s desire to write and share, rather than just to increase audience size.

    Looking ahead, I anticipate blogs might receive less traffic due to advancements in AI. These technologies could change how people find and consume content, with AI responses not including links to the original source material with the answers. Currently, Google drives two-thirds of the traffic to my site, but I expect this could diminish significantly.

    This shift brings us to reconsider the purpose of blogging. It might return to being a more authentic platform for expression, as it was when it first began. In those early days, attracting Google traffic was a surprising bonus, not the goal. But as Google became a primary traffic driver, many bloggers, including myself, began tailoring our content to suit its algorithms, focusing on keywords and longer articles.

    The decline of social media’s role in content distribution might lead to a renaissance of personal or federated blogging platforms. This could herald a return to blogging as a simple, unadulterated practice of sharing ideas online without the ulterior motive of pleasing search engines.

  3. Dan

    Your experiences tally with my feelings about blogging, even though my blogging is very different that yours. I write on a very different topic, my initial target audience is much smaller than yours, and I often write in-depth articles targeting even smaller audiences. Yet even with all these differences, I too have been finding myself writing more short posts. As platform decay (a.k.a. “enshittification”) engulfs commercial social media, I guess it’s inevitable that the role of blogs would also change.

    Interestingly, I find I’m also changing my reading habits. Platform decay has also hit search engines (as one example, a recent Wired article detailed how Google alters the search engines queries you enter in order to increase ad revenue; see ). I find that search engine platform decay has been pushing me to look at trusted blogs for high-quality links — which was, after all, one of the original purposes of “weblogs” as blogs were originally called. Seeing this this change in my own reading habits, I’ve been thinking about doing short posts on interesting links I’ve found.

    In any case, thanks for the thought-provoking post.

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