Must-Read Book: "The World's Top Political Bloggers Share the Secrets to Success"

That's the subtitle to a new book of interviews with 20 web presences ranging from filthy rich (Arianna Huffington) to recently relocated (Andrew Malcolm, now at Investors Business Daily and late of the LA Times[*]) to left-wing (Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake) to right-wing (Thomas Lifson of American Thinker) to libertarian (Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution) to establishment (Ben Smith of Politico, Steve Clemons of Washington Note/New America Foundation) to crazy, cockeyed optimists pining for a world of exploding choices and options for all of us, even those among us with little more than a t-shirt and a dream to guide us (yours truly).

Making It in the Political Blogosphere is written by Tanni Haas, a communications professor at City University of New York. He writes in his intro:

While an impressive 44% of all Americans read political blogs, tens of millions do so daily....Even more significant than the sheer number of people who read and are influenced by political blogs is the importance people attach to them. Studies have found that political blog readers consider such blogs more trustworthy sources of information than they do any other mainstream news media, including online and offline newspapers, television and radio. Political blogs are considered more trustworthy because they provide access to a broader spectrum of issues than is availabe in the mainstream news media; cover those issues in greater depth, with more independence and points of view; and present them in a manner that's more understandable and relevant to readers.

Here are some snippets from his conversation with me, which took place over a year ago (if I'm remembering correctly - and as my note the bottom suggests, my memory ain't all that good):

What was the original goal for [Hit & Run]? ...It's definitely like a coffeehouse, an eighteenth- or nineteenth-century coffeehouse, model of a conversation where there are some people who're starting and structuring the conversation. But it's very much a conversation, not necessarily among equals, but where the traditional roles of authority and subject have very much broken down or have at least become more leveled....Regardless of whether you're talking about traditional authority figures like politicians, priests, stockbrokers, lawyers, or doctors, they're losing power at the expense of end users in a network who're starting to push back and say, "You know what? I'm pretty smart. I know how to live my life. I know what information I have, and I want to have a conversation rather than listen to a lecture."...

Why do you think Hit & Run has been so successful? I think it's partly due to the talent of the individual contributors, skimming and bringing stories or concepts that wouldn't otherwise be voiced....our ideological framework of libertarianism with a small 'l'...[is] of great interest to many poeple and it fits exceptionally well with the increasing shift from centralization to decentralization in economic power, telecommunications, and in lifestyle. I think the general vibe and the general mentality of Hit & Run, Reason magazine, and, more broadly, of libertarianism with a small 'l' comports very well with that.

How, in your opinion, has the political blogosphere evloved over time? ...Ten years into the blogging phenomenon new conventions have formed. While blogging remains an extremely vital, viable, and interesting thing, part of me is looking forward to the next develpments, which we can't fully anticipate....I'm looking forward to the next thing that's going to be participatory, that's going to be revelatory, and is going to deliver some new kind of information, some new kind of conversation that's important.

Mea culpa: I told Haas that Hit & Run launched in late 2001 when in fact it was late 2002. For early archives, go here.

Making it in the Political Blogosphere is far more interesting than my inclusion might suggest (apart from the names listed above, Haas interviewed Rogers Cadenead, Juan Cole, Cheryl Contee, Kevin Drum, Eric Garris, Taegan Goddard, John Hawkins, Jim Hoft, Eric Olsen, Heather Parton, Lew Rockwell, and Matt Yglesias). There's a wealth of perspective, insight, history, advice, and storytelling from the interviewees, and Haas' opening and closing chapters provide great ways of thinking about the blogosphere.

[*]: In the original version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that Andrew Malcolm had been fired when in fact he had been hired away by IBD. Check out his IBD archive here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Why do you think Hit & Run has been so successful?

    The comments of course!

  • Sparky||

    I think it's the obnoxious hat tips.

  • Narcissists||

    Because of us!

  • ||

    +1 Diet

  • ||

    Why do you think Hit & Run has been so successful?

    Hedley Lamarr: My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

  • tarran||

    DITTO!!!!!!!

  • Brandon||

    "with little more than a t-shirt and a dream to guide us (yours truly)."

    Does the Jacket control the rest of your assets directly?

  • ||

    even those among us with little more than a t-shirt and a dream to guide us

    Both the t-shirt and the dream feature Lobster Girl

  • ||

    I'm publishing a new book: Commenting for Fun and Profit.

  • RoboCain||

    Profit?

  • Bee Tagger||

    Misspelling. He's referencing the Draw Mohammed day: Commenting for Funnin' Prophet.

  • ||

    No. Advertising!

    Brought to you by Motrin. Medicine with muscle.

  • GSL||

    So . . . what's the secret to success?

  • Suki||

    I guess they want you to buy the book for that. Or just thumb through it while sipping coffee at Borders Barnes & Noble.

  • wayne||

    "Why is H&R so successful?"

    I just come here for the Alabaster Indian, Tony, MNG, and Joe. Unfortunately, Joe has defected to democratic underground or some other liberal echo chamber.

  • Suki||

    I missed the Golden Years of Reason :(

  • wayne||

    It was a magical time.

  • ||

    It wasn't all magical.

  • RoboCain||

    /b was never good

  • ||

    But it was nevertheless glorious.

  • ||

    The good of the many outweighed the bad of the few. . .or the one.

  • ||

    That's exactly it. We had a lot of really good, thoughtful, prolific commenters here. Unfortunately, most have moved on to greener pastures, thus ceding the ground to the low-rent D-list trolls that you see roaming the comment threads to this very day.

  • Not Warty, Episiarch, John||

    We had a lot of really good, thoughtful, prolific commenters here. Unfortunately, most have moved on, ceding the ground to the low-rent D-list trolls narcissist lifers that you see roaming infesting the comment threads to this very day.

  • Sit On It, Rectal.||

    +1 Me!

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon ||

    joe from lol is currently Occupying Daily Kos with his inanities.

    In the "Trolls I Miss Category", the nominees are:
    1. Lonewacko
    2. Dave W.
    3. amazingdrx
    4. Jersey McJones

    In the "Angry and Confused Gay Atheists" category, the winnah goes to Akira McKenzie.

    Anybody have any other nostalgic choices they want to throw up there?

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Oh, and Cesar as Neil - that was amazing.

    I have a suspicion that he called Cesar is still here as someone else.

  • ||

    gaius marius, obviously.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Damn, I meant to include gaius marius on the list.

    I miss Jean Bart / Gary Gunnels / Bisexual French Legionnaire.

  • ||

    Man, how do you guys remember this shit?! I recognize all those names, but I'd never have been able to just pluck them out of my brain at this point.

    My memory must be worse than Nick's.

  • ||

    Well, he wasn't really a troll, I guess.

  • ||

    He wasn't a troll.

  • Warty||

    Nah, just a crazy person. I do miss him, though.

  • ||

    I certainly don't miss Dan T.

  • ||

    I certainly don't miss Dan T.

    He's not gone. I suspect he is The Derider and Librarian (among others.) He's just more careful about outing himself.

  • Warty||

    He's probably The Derider, but he's less active and less obnoxious than he used to be.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    DONDERROOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  • ||

    Juanita?

  • ||

    And there was some white supremacist guy from Holland. I forget his name.

  • ||

    URKOBOLD.

  • ||

    URKOBOLD wasn't a troll. He was our spiritual leader, fergodsakes.

  • the innominate one||

    I hope your taint insurance is paid up, Mike, in case THE URKOBOLD hears you insulting him so.

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon ||

    If you miss joe, you can see him as a "prolific" "author" on the Important Topics of the Day.

  • ||

    I made it through two sentences. What an intolerable fuck. It's too bad he's alive, isn't it?

  • ||

    Of course joe is an Occutard. Of course.

  • robc||

    I think it's partly due to the talent of the individual contributors

    Some of us more than others.

  • ||

    Anybody have any other nostalgic choices they want to throw up there?

    DONDEROOOOOOO! had a certain elegant simplicity about him, as did Dick Hoste.

    Elemenope was largely a pain in the kontrarian keister.

  • T||

    Dondero had his moments. I especially loved his "I've walked uphill, both ways, in the snow, to hand out LP campaign materials, while I was in the Navy, on a boat! SO DON'T CRITICIZE ME! YOU HAVEN'T EARNED IT!"

    Those used to make me LOL.

  • Warty||

    HERE IS MY CELL PHONE NUMBER! IF NONE OF YOU PUSSIES CALLS ME, I'LL KNOW YOU WEREN'T MAN ENOUGH!

    PLEASE CALL ME! I'M LONELY!

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    + a zillion. that was always some funny shit. almost funny enough to make up for what slobbering dick head he was.

  • ||

    I miss Elemenope. He was was fun to argue with, and not in the mindless beating the sockpuppet way.

  • Sparky||

    I haven't been around here that long, but your comment reminded me of GREGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  • Beloved Rev. Blue Moon ||

    DONDEROOOO is the genesis for that.

    I believe that Timothy originally posited that whenever we saw Awik Dondero, we should all yell out (either in our minds or out loud, depending on your workplace rules) the CANYONERRRROOOO song from The Simpsons.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Yeah when Gregoooo came on the scene i originally thought is was someone doing an Eric parody but well...it wasnt.

    And seriosuly, the only two that can even vie for top spot are Joe and LoneDipshit.

  • ||

    I claim first use of the name way back in 2007:

    http://reason.com/blog/2007/06.....ent_732667

    It was originally based on the Bonanza theme, 'cause DONDEROOOOOO at the time kept blathering on about his "Libertarian posse" who were going to... uhh... do something. Timothy really popularized the name, though; he did the heavy lifting of posting it in every single thread where DONDEROOOOOO showed up for years afterwards.

    A couple of weeks after the original use, de stijl mentioned that he always heard the Canyonero song in his head when he saw DONDEROOOOOO's name:

    http://reason.com/blog/2007/07.....ent_740018

    That interpretation eventually, I think, gained dominance.

    Still, I started the damned thing, and while it may be a tenuous claim to H&R immortality, it's the best one I've got.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    3 cheers for JB

  • ||

    I certainly don't miss Dan T.

    For Warty:

    “Mommy, where to kitties go when they die? To Heaven?” asked six-year-old Janet Yelton.

    Terri Yelton took a slow drag from her cigarette and exhaled. “Doubt it. They just die and they’re gone. Now shut up.” She was trying to watch her soap operas.

    Janet ignored her. “I bet they go to Heaven, at least the nice ones.”

    Terri flicked her cigarette ash in her daughter’s direction. “I said shut up, smart-ass. Why aren’t you outside?”

    Are you sure you don't miss The Font of Crappy Prose?

  • Warty||

    Well, if he had written more fiction, sure. But once we had exhausted that mine, he was very boring.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I actuallt miss Steve Smith articles...not for their substance but the comments of course. I think we permantly scared him off, or he was thrown overboard on the cruise. Or he was just a Jacket puppet for the commenter's amusement.

  • Josh||

    Rogers Cadenhead is misspelled.

  • Infoteknik||

    Terri Yelton took a slow drag from her cigarette and exhaled. “Doubt it. They just die and they’re gone. Now shut up.” She was trying to watch her soap operas.

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