Monday, June 23, 2008

Total Politics goes live

The Total Politics website is now live and my "Where are they now?" contribution can be found HERE.

As previously mentioned, this is the first of a regular series focusing on shooting stars of the political firmament - those who enjoyed a brief fifteen minutes of fame or notoriety before returning to obscurity. In issue No 1, I focus on Walter Sweeney, a former Tory MP best known for a delightful story involving a crunch Commons vote, a 22-stone government whip, and a toilet.

On the subject of Total Politics, I was interested to read this interview with the magazine's publisher, Iain Dale in yesterday's Observer, in particular this paragraph.

"I think blogs as a phenomenon are on a plateau at the moment," he says. "Readership is growing but I don't see any great innovation. I see the mainstream media organisations embracing blogging and doing it quite well, eclipsing them in some areas. I'm really disappointed there have not been five or six other people that have built a mass readership. There are only four blogs [Dale's own, plus PoliticalBetting, ConservativeHome and Guido Fawkes] that have done that, and there's a huge gap between the four of us and the next 10."

I don't for a minute doubt Iain's sincerity in saying this - he has often gone out of his way to promote other, smaller blogs that he thinks worthy of note, including this one - but it's a fact of economic life that once someone - or a group of people - establishes a market dominance, it becomes much harder for anyone else to break in.

In a way, what has happened with UK political blogging is a bit like what has happened with UK supermarkets. There, too, you have a "big four" in Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons, with the smaller players a long way behind.

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purplepangolin said...

But there are much lower barriers to entry with blogging, so incumbents have much less of an advantage than in your analogy.

Anonymous said...

reading (political) blogs in the UK is still a minority sport. Even Dale's 'Big Four' are small fry in comparison to oversees blogs. Another factor is that blogging in the UK is to a large degree Londoncentric, something that is increased to an extent by the 'big bloggers' themselves, as well as blogs run by mainstream media and all those bloggers imbetween who circle all these blogs like moths to a lightbulb, regurgitating their produce.

Anonymous said...

The 'big 4' aren't quite as big as they'd like to think, though, are they?
There's a fair amount of self-mythologising going on here. I don't doubt that the blogosphere has changed over the past couple of years with clear 'leaders' emerging, but I'd question what that 'leadership' consists of.

Doug said...

Another question worth pondering in trying to analyse this is why there are no Labour or LibDem blogs in that shortlist of four. Does that suggest something more is going on?