World Soccer Talk, one of the places I frequent for my soccer fix, where an interesting article notes that 55% of the 100 best soccer blogs, as chosen in 2011 by the English newspaper The Guardian, are now gone. For those of you who are mathematically-challenged, that means 55 blogs that have either disappeared altogether or have ceased to exist for all intents and purposes,* and another 12 are considered endangered.
*The definition used in the article is that no new articles have been published since March, a period of time that would have included the recent World Cup.
As for why so many highly-regarded blogs have disappeared, the author suggests a number of reasons ranging from social media (many of them are still alive via Twitter feed) to media consolidation (the best bloggers leave the independent blog field to take up with larger sites such as Grantland). The 30+ sites that continue have carved out their own unique niche, filling the need with content that remains unique and valuable. It's an analysis that makes a great deal of sense.
Blogging does seem to ebb and flow. I don't think there's much question that there aren't nearly as many blogs around today as there used to be; I know a good many that I've had to remove from the sidebar over the years, many of which were around long before either of mine started. For many, it's a case of real life intruding - if you want a good blog, you have to devote some time to it, and that isn't always the easiest thing to continue, especially when you're doing it for little or no money. Others have said what they have to say, and have nothing more to add. Still others probably get bored a few months after the novelty wears off, and leave the site deserted.
My ideal writing forum always has been, and remains, the novel. I've written two so far, and I'm at work on a third. The latest one is probably going to be the first one published; I'm about a third of the way through it, and the subject matter is time-sensitive enough that I'd like to see it in print sometime next year, probably through my own publishing efforts. My second book was almost self-published a few years ago, before I started changing jobs and moving across country; it needs no little revision, but it has good bones and might make it next year as well. The first book I finished likely will never see the light of day, at least not without major changes. It served its purpose, though - it taught me that I could write a story from beginning to end, and fill all the pages in between. Add to this a couple of non-fiction books I hope to get from It's About TV, and you can see how the blogs can be something of a challenge.
In fact, I probably could get a great deal more writing done if it weren't for these two blogs. I don't get paid for them, and every word I type for free takes away from one I could get paid for. So why do I continue?
With It's About TV, there's really no secret. I get a great deal of pleasure writing about television, and I think the blogging has helped me not only to refine my writing style, but organize my ideas for the inevitable books that will grow out of the blog. It may take away some of the time I'd spend on my novels, but in now way do I think it is a waste. It is, as I've said before, one of life's simpler pleasures.
As for this site, honesty commands me to disclose that I've seriously considered closing shop at least twice. The first ending was averted when I rebooted the site from one with a focus on religion to that of a general cultural awareness, which included religion but also politics, television, movies, books, and sports. When I spun the TV portion off into its own blog, I considered wrapping this one up again, but then I looked at the outstanding contributors that keep it running - Bobby, Steve and Drew - and there were so many pieces that each one had written that I loved, I couldn't see the sense in letting them fade away. Even when It's About TV became the primary blog and I could have abandoned this one, I decided instead to give it a face lift, a new name, and redouble my efforts to keep the content coming. Indeed, I don't know if you've noticed, but we've already surpassed last year's number of posts, with over four months still remaining. The two blogs have, in fact, an equal number of posts, though this one can make that claim only because there are four of us working on it.
Eventually the time will come when this blog stops being a useful form of communication, when Bobby and Steve and Drew decide they've got other things to do, and when that happens I might pull the plug, or keep it going on a much more limited basis. Likewise, there may be a point when I fell It's About TV has run its course, when it's completed its mission of demonstrating the link between television and American culture and it becomes time to move the discussion to the book format. But until then, I enjoy the challenge of succeeding where others have given up, and as we come up on the tenth anniversary of In Other Words (!), it's my goal to continue writing here for as long as I can. Every time another blog fades away, I become more determined than ever to keep this alive. Besides, we'll never stop having opinions, and as long as that's the case, we'll keep expressing them here.
Originally published August 19, 2014