I was first introduced to political blogging by Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004. By then, some of the liberal grandmothers and fathers of the medium were already well underway, including Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, Duncan Black (aka Atrios) at Eschaton, Ezra Klein at Pandagon, Jerome Armstrong at MyDD, and Heather Digby Parton at Hullabaloo.
As you'll note from the links I provided (or the lack thereof), some of those blogs have thrived and some are gone. I'm not going to try to provide a history of how political blogging started or how it developed because it would take a book to do so. At this point, I only have rudimentary knowledge about all of the ins and outs anyway. But there are a few developments that I find fascinating that can, perhaps, help us explore exactly what "blogging" means, as well as whether or not it remains viable today.
The list of blogs up above demonstrates some of the diversity in blog formats. DailyKos has something called a "front page," where (mostly) paid staff post news updates and opinions. But community members can also post entries, which basically opens the process to almost anyone. Obviously, Talking Points Memo has evolved over time into something that more closely resembles a traditional online publication. But Marshall still maintains his "Editor's Blog." Eschaton and Hullabaloo remain pretty much what they've always been.
But perhaps as much as anyone, Ezra Klein represents much of how blogging evolved. After starting at Pandagon, he was hired by the Washington Post in 2013 to write the "Wonkblog." By then, a lot of newspaper and print magazines had incorporated blogging as part of their online presence. The Atlantic is a perfect example. At one point, their bloggers included names like Andrew Sullivan, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Megan McArdle. That raises the question of how those blogs were different from the other articles at those publications.
In 2015, J.J. Gould, who was the editor of TheAtlantic.com at the time, wrote about how that publication began to deemphasize blogging with posts by new writers that didn't come from their blog streams.
Along the way, our posts came more and more to resemble what we’d traditionally just call articles: They have headlines framed to draw you into the story (vs. to break up a rolling blog). They have lead sentences and paragraphs written to engage you in it (vs. abrupt pivots from blunt openers like, “Glenn has a great post up on his blog today ...”). They’re carefully edited. They’re carefully produced. In form, they’re magazine articles, just created in the cadences of new media.Gould goes on to write that blogging "ended up out of phase with the ascendant dynamics of distribution and consumption on a bigger and bigger Internet." I have no idea what he means by that. But it is clear that Gould has a certain amount of disdain for a format he thinks lacks hard-hitting headlines and lead sentences, but perhaps even more importantly, aren't carefully edited and produced.