John Quiggin answers the question “Are blogs chatrooms?” with the obvious response: NO.
But he also inserts a throwaway asserton that:
Political blogs like this one are intended as competion for mass media such as newspapers, and have had at least some success in this role.
Speaking for myself, I don’t see blogs that way at all. Certainly there’s often a coincidence of subject matter, and I’m interested in developing an audience. But that’s about it. Blogs are much more intimate and idiosyncratic (even group ones like TA); many of us frequently insert personal diaristic vignettes to leaven the relentless boredom of politics. I don’t recall seeing reminiscences about Fred Hillmer’s home life in the SMH; in fact I still retch reflexively whenever I recall Margo’s revelations about her toiletry and smoking habits.
Bloggers seldom attempt to gather or report the news, we just analyse and “fact-check” it from an individual perspective. Without the mainstream media to alert us to stories, political blogs wouldn’t exist.
Lastly, at least on blogs with comment facilities, interactivity is quite central to the total “product”. Political blogging is up close and personal dialectic, which does indeed render it somewhat closer to a chatroom or email discussion list than any mainstream news medium. Blogging is not “competition” for newspapers; it exists in a symbiotic relationship with mainstream media.
PS – Scott Wickstein has been interviewed about blogging by a journo named Greg Tingle, who apparently runs a website that isn’t a blog though it’s blog-like in some aspects (it’d be nice if he got around to updating his blogroll though).