August 08, 2003

Journalistic Levels of Power

In trying to explain to someone my problems regarding journalistic levels of power, I ended up making the following chart. I decided to put it below, since it's instructive.

The following are roughly, what I estimate some daily readerships to be, in terms of order-of-magnitude numbers:


Level Audience Site
5 100,000 Slashdot (actually more like 250,000)
4 10,000 Front page of Lessig blog
3 1,000 Greplaw
2 100 Seth Finkelstein blog (being extremely generous!)
1 10 New LiveJournal/Blogspot/Blogger/etc. site
0 1 My name is Joe-419 of the Republic of Spam...

If one looks at the number of comments for an article, and it's clear that, on average, it tracks the hierarchy here (though there are some exceptions).

This illuminates what I was talking about earlier, mathematically, So, for example, Lawrence Lessig and Declan McCullagh can "feud", as they're on roughly the same journalistic power levels, despite vast differences in intellectual power levels.

But in terms of being way underpowered/overmatched - I'm down around level 2. Playing in leagues two levels greater than my own (or more!) is just going to lead me to grief.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in journo | on August 08, 2003 11:57 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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I thought this was supposed to be one of the great equalizers of the Internet. Anyone and everyone can publish, and sometimes it seems like they do!

There does become a price burden if you become too popular of course, so at some point you either have to make money or your rise comes to a halt.

Looking back at slashdot, they had numerous times before they got bought by OSDN that they were on the verge of collapse. But enough of the economics of the problem, that isn't the crux of your argument.

If you play in a forum that is outside of your control then you are always at a disadvantage. Comments in a weblog or on a "community" site like slashdot are, I feel, horrid ways of conducting an exchange of ideas. Brad Templeton was just talking about how he longed for the days of USENET for discussion. Now of course Brad may be a tiny bit biased towards USENET, but in general I agree with him. And yet, here I am...posting comments in a weblog.

Solutions? I don't have any.

Posted by: Patrick Berry at August 9, 2003 01:12 PM

The sad point is that it's only an "equalizer" in the sense of "some are more equal than others" :-(

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at August 11, 2003 02:07 AM