Blogging goes professional

I was at lunch with some blog people today, one of whom wants to recruit an economics blogger and asked for names. I basically drew a blank. All of the high-traffic economics bloggers I read are either professors, in some similarly rewarding profession, or already tied up by a media organization.

I think this is becoming broadly true of the wider blog world: the biggest bloggers are either professionals, or they have an even more lucrative job. I blogged the primary from Matt's house on Tuesday, and almost everyone in the room were being paid to blog. Two years ago, we were all amateurs. That's a skewed sample, of course, but all of us had relatively widely read blogs not only before we took a salary, but before we knew each other. I don't mean to say that there are no high trafficked policy blogs not run by professors or professionals, since this is clearly not true. But the numbers seem to be dwindling. And most of the obvious people of whom I would have said to any media organization "You should hire this blogger" seem to have been hired. I expect the rest to follow soon, since there are fewer arbitrage opportunities. There's a lot more amateur talent remaining in other fields, like science blogging, but I wonder how long this will last.

I'm not sure what this means for the blogging world. It's still largely an amateur medium, but it's hard to see how many new bloggers can compete with someone who gets paid to do it, unless they are independently wealthy or have a job, like journalism or academia, that routinely throws them a lot of bloggable material. Will it become as hard to break into blogging as it is to break into print?

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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