Top-Down Right-Wing Blogosphere Growing Powerful
by Chris Bowers, Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 09:44:57 AM EDT
- The lower the stickiness of a blog, the higher the relative traffic value of a link from that blog to the blog being linked. In other words, a blog where there isn't much to do besides visit (no comments, few or no special pages, short articles), will cause a higher percentage of its traffic base to visit a blog that it links than will a blog with high stickiness (diaries, long articles, polls, comments, arguments, many special pages, etc).
- High traffic right-wing blogs, such as Andrew Sullivan, Hugh Hewitt, Real Clear Politics, Powerline and especially Instapundit (among the top seven right-wing blogs, only Captain's Quarters and Little Green Footballs have comments), tend to be less sticky than high traffic left wing blogs. Among the top seven left-wing blogs in terms of traffic, Dailykos, Atrios, Political Animal, Wonkette, Smirking Chimp, Political Wire and Talking Points Memo, four of the seven have comments, and Dailykos, twice as trafficked as any other blog according to some measurements, is perhaps the stickiest blog of them all. In fact Dailykos is so sticky, I can tell you right now without equivocation that being linked by in a post by Atrios does a lot more for MyDD's traffic than being linked on a front-page story by Dailykos, despite the enormous traffic gap between the two sites. (The two huge spikes in the link were on days when Atrios linked us,. By contrast, we were linked five times on front page Dailykos articles over the last month, but you can't tell what days those are, can you? Further, as I write this, we are experiencing a third major upsurge in traffic, once again courtesy of Atrios).
- The lower stickiness of top right-wing sites, especially Instapundit, can lead to a complete domination of the right-wing blogosphere by the "one big story" if the top bloggers are all pushing one story. Glenn Reynolds in particular, who does not have comments or special pages and who rarely comments on a subject beyond "xxx has the goods on this one," or "indeed," can send the traffic of any blog he links skyrocketing to a degree no left-wing blog can even come close to matching (and he links other blogs a lot). Right-wing blog traffic, and the articles people tend to read on any individual right-wing blog, has a remarkable correlation to the interests of the top-right wing bloggers, and Glenn Reynolds in particular. That is why, in the title of this article, I called the right-wing blogosphere a top-down operation.
The strength of the right-wing blogs in impacting the national media does not end there. Of late, more established institutions of right-wing ideology, including Drudge and right-wing talk radio, have taken to adopting the "one big story" dominating / originating from the right-wing blogosphere. For Hugh Hewitt, it is a seamless operation, but Rush Limbaugh has gotten in on the act as well. Also, while Dailykos is by far the most trafficked political blog of any ideology, the left still lacks a "breaking news" independent website that is the equivalent to Drudge, which has a larger portion of the media's ear than any blog or group of blogs. While Air America is extremely blog friendly and experiencing consistent ratings growth, it still does not have the same institutional power to spread stories that right-wing talk radio does.
So, the right-wing blogosphere stays more on message, and has easier access to larger media outlets than the lefty-blogosphere. This is a formula to influence the national media:"It was amazing Thursday to watch the documents story go from FreeRepublic.com, a bastion of right-wing lunacy, to Drudge to the mainstream media in less than 12 hours," said Jim Jordan, a strategist for independent Democratic groups opposed to Bush.
"That's not to say the documents didn't deserve examination. But apparently the entire thing was cooked up by a couple of amateurs on Free Republic. The speed with which it moved was breathtaking."
By Friday, articles in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and other news outlets were quoting some analysts raising questions about the CBS documents, and others saying it was impossible to judge the memos' authenticity without seeing the originals.Over the past few days, southpaws spent a lot of time countering the "forged" charges made by freepers, but you never saw any of our charges showing up in national stories on the subject. Instead, defense of the memos was left entirely to CBS news. Our successes with Trent Lott, Howard Dean and Wesley Clark were remarkable, but of late I feel that the right-wingers are outstripping us in our ability to push a big news story into the national media. The right-wing blogosphere has become integrated into the Mighty Wurlitzer, while we remain a loose confederation of outrage, analysis and action.
Now, I definitely do not want to decrease the stickiness of top-left-wing sites. I greatly prefer being part of an active community rather than dominated by a few people at the top. However, there needs to be some way that we can match, and hopefully exceed, the newfound power of the right-wing blogosphere in influencing the national media. Personally, I do not know what is to be done. It will take a group of people more creative than myself to work out a solution to this problem.