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.