While I’ve been in Atlanta, several people have asked me about how I choose the content I post on the blog. Given that we are beginning a new year – my favorite time to write meta articles on the state of the blog – I figured it made sense to briefly outline my blogging philosophy. To be clear, I’m far from convinced that my philosophy is the best one, and I’m actually fairly certain that it represents a bad approach for those attempting to make a steady income from blogging. Nevertheless, I (unsurprisingly) like my blogging style, and I think it’s worth elucidating in greater detail.
My biggest imperative when blogging is to create timeless content. In other words, I want to write content that people can return to and reread months and years after the piece is initially published. To achieve this, I normally attempt to write posts that can be applied to a range of political and policy issues, not tabloid-esque garbage that will garner tons of views upfront but never be read again. This is how I approach book buying, and it is my approach when selecting news media outlets to read, so I figure that it makes sense to make it my approach to blogging as well. To put my philosophy another way, I try to do the exact opposite of cable news providers like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
Frankly, too much of the news media, especially cable television, which I deplore, is ill-informed, untheoretical, and myopic. And while there is certainly value in providing current events coverage, I find much of the “analysis” offered by journalists to be unreflective and partisan kabuki theater executed by individuals who take themselves far too seriously. Just how many times do I have to hear exaggerated discussions of this new Trump book, for example? Yes, it’s funny that Trump and Bannon, two odious and conceited buffoons, are publicly going at it. But if I have to hear one more “analyst” smugly announce that the Trump team is a den of idiots, something that is self-evident and clear for all to see, I might just tear the TV off the wall in rage.
Rarely do I hear or see commentators attempting to draw deeper connections or identify meaningful trends. Instead, I see hundreds of articles about how Trump voters in rural America still support Trump. This is not surprising or enlightening in any way, and a basic review of polling data from previous administrations would reveal that this kind of partisan loyalty is not unique to Trump. A related problem is the seemingly universal belief among pundits that they need to comment on every minor development, no matter how obscure or insignificant. This tendency becomes even more frustrating when it involves topics about which the commentators are clueless. Quality is sacrificed for quantity, and pundits inevitably overstate their case, look foolish, and undermine their credibility and the credibility of the partisan cause they invariably support. This is true for both sides of the political media, by the way, so I’m not trying to insinuate that this problem is limited to the “mainstream media.” But in many ways, this makes the problem worse, as it means that it is difficult to find substantive, quality analysis in any part of the media landscape.
Because of my frustration with cable pundits and a non-trivial number of print journalists, I have attempted to write content that is very different in substance from theirs. Ultimately, I want to make people think more theoretically and avoid the trap of focusing on whatever hot-button issue is dominating the headlines at any time. This is also my approach to selecting weekly links, by the way, as I think it’s important to highlight issues and views that are deeply informed and thought-provoking but a tad outside the mainstream. It’s probably true that Trump’s antics are more important than most other political issues today, but the over-coverage of the man means that it’s very easy to get tunnel vision, and thus, I attempt to demolish the tunnel. Of course, Evan and I have written about Trump a good deal, and we will likely continue to do so. But given that the market for Trump-related news is fairly saturated these days, I think it’s generally more productive to carve out a niche elsewhere.
I think blogging, especially when not done for money, is uniquely situated to avoid the flaws of media organizations because there is little pressure to constantly churn out content of questionable value. This allows bloggers to avoid the trap of unreflectively commenting on every event of the day, and it results in higher quality output. Perhaps my philosophy will change over time, but for now, I’m quite convinced that it’s the best approach for this kind of blog.