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The Changing Blogosphere and the Need for Progressive Infrastructure

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I read about 80-100 news sources, from blogs to online news sites to traditional media, every day. Wake up, fire up the computer, scan, scan, read, scan, read, scan. And this is not including the email pitches I get, the various blasts of press releases and other information shared by colleagues and readers and friends, the contacts with whom I periodically check in, and on and on. Most of what I do at Firedoglake does not appear on screen.

It’s work that I enjoy doing, but it’s WORK. It takes a significant amount of time and effort. Without reader support it would not be possible, because I could simply not sustain the pace while having to find some other way to pay for the 5-10 minutes a day not spent scanning and reading, to feed myself and pay my bills.

The blogosphere has changed a lot since I started, and my writing style has changed with it. Before I would fit in a link to some story and a line of snark in the middle of regular business hours. Readers can find that now on Twitter. Their expectations are different. People come to a site like FDL, or at least my little corner of it, wanting analysis, wanting the connections between stories made clear, wanting something they cannot get in the endless parade of horse-race political stories or Politico-style “win the morning” provocations. They want to know what’s important, why it’s important, and what the implications are. They want news that isn’t sterile, that has a point of view, that’s informed by the past and points the arrows to the future. That’s the niche I’ve tried to carve for myself.

So as online journalism expanded and transformed itself, it led to a certain professionalization of the profession, with fierce competition from the traditional news sources and the 800 lb. gorilla news sites like Huffington Post and TPM. And playing in that space takes an infrastructure to nurture, support and encourage writers who want to break down US policy and politics and make it digestible. In a sense, the journalism supports the activism, and vice-versa. Without a knowledge base, it’s harder to really advocate, and without advocacy, it’s hard to know what’s worth highlighting. The relationship is symbiotic.

The value readers bring to FDL with their membership, to sustain my work and the work of others on this site, is incalculable. And it’s gratifying to hear that the membership will foster a deeper engagement, with expansions at MyFDL on the activism side, and more opportunities to take action. If it in any way builds off of my work, I’m proud to provide the tools necessary to make the activism effective. If it supplements my work, I’m glad to have the help!

FDL exists off of loyal, persistent, reader-donated support, starting at as little as $5 a month. If you have the means, it would mean a great deal to me for you to give, to join the 1,300 members already part of the site, and to continue to build this community.

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David Dayen

David Dayen