John Hawkins thinks that the age of the independent conservative blogosphere is done:
Way, way back in 2001, when I got started in the blogosphere, the Right side of the blogosphere was bigger and more influential than the Left.
Well, in American politics, the energy tends to be with the party that’s out of power. During the nineties, that was the Right and a lot of websites like Free Republic and Townhall got big and burly as part of the opposition to Bill Clinton. The Right side of the blogosphere, that was just starting to come into existence in the very late 90s, managed to get off to a running start for that reason.
However, a funny thing happened in 2002-2003 — the left side of the blogosphere took off and eclipsed the Right side of the blogosphere. Liberals ferociously loathed George W. Bush, just as conservatives had detested Clinton, and they went online to congregate and get the information they needed to fight back. Soon, the liberal blogs were considerably bigger than the conservative blogs….although, and this is an often overlooked caveat, there were still a number of significant conservative websites, with large audiences, that many people don’t consider to be “blogs:” Lucianne, The American Spectator, WorldnetDaily, Newsmax, etc.
So, since that was the case, when Barack Obama got into power, you’d have expected that traffic on the Right side of the blogosphere would have surged just as it did on the Left side of the blogosphere in the early Bush years.
That didn’t happen.
Hawkins goes into why the conservative blogosphere didn’t blossom after Obama’s election. The right side of the Internet has become professionalized and has started to crowd out the part-time blogger. As Hawkins notes, you have to either “go big or go home.”
I started blogging politically back in 2002 and one can remember back then when Andrew Sullivan wasn’t sponsored by a big media outfit. But I think these days most of the big bloggers, no matter their ideology, are backed by some outfit or have started their own media empire. Blogs have become official centers of opinion staffed by professionals.
Does that mean we won’t be seeing bloggers like myself unless they make money? No. As long as folks have access to blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger, there will be people blogging. But the days when someone could start a blog while working full time as a teacher in St. Paul or Des Moines or Seattle is probably over.