Tuesday, February 04, 2014

History of blogging and borders (Updated)

Andrew Sullivan's remarkable and ceaselessly original American blog The Dish, funded entirely by about a million dollars a year in subscriptions volunteered by its readers, is deep into its renewal drive.  As part of that, it takes note of "Dishheads Around the Globe" and gets a slew of enthusiastic shoutouts from various countries, plus this contrarian viewpoint from Canada:
Noting that pageviews from Canada are not even a twentieth of your domestic following, I find my own choice not to subscribe is sustained. It’s a very Yank phenomenon, your blog.
In the 1930s, a Canadian public-policy guru, Graham Spry, said of broadcasting (he meant radio, but it applied to television, and more widely too): “It’s the state – or the United States.” Either Canada built up public broadcasting or there would be nothing but American broadcasters sending us American news, culture, personalities. So Canada built a public broadcasting network – and regulated private broadcasters as well.
There’s no sign of publicly funded blogging on our horizon. But no Canadian blog with ambitions anything like yours could survive on subscriptions. And if we subscribe to The Dish, we reinforce the American blogging hegemony. You run a great blog, but despite the Kiwi dreamer who sent you his money and hoped for more rugby posts, it’s gotta be pretty much all America all the time.
Now if your 170,000 Canadian pageviews could translated into $20 apiece for a Canadian blogging consortium…? Hmmm. (But since 170 of them are probably me alone, there’s only a thousand or so of us looking in, anyway!)
Is this right? Are there solutions? (The author of the comment is also the blogger of this blog.)

Update:  Russ Chamberlayne suggests:
Can we in Canada (and other places with smaller readerships) foresee a day when our blogs become less dependent on the bloggers' resources and more institutionalized? Graham Spry would have suggested state-supported public blogcasting, but I wonder about the possibilities that will arise when the on-line newspapers of today evolve into something financially viable. Could those neo-newspapers -- less like conventional papers and perhaps more news-and-views journals -- be a remunerative home for bloggers? The blogosphere would undoubtedly continue, with interesting writers volunteering time and effort to mount the sort of stand-alone column we see today. But a band of Canadian bloggers providing material to a history or humanities or Canada journal might help attract enough eyeballs to yield subscribers and patrons.
Mark R. Harris, who teaches at Technologico de Monterrey in Sinaloa, Mexico, writes:
An interesting question that relates to your post "History of blogging and borders" is what kind of non-Canadian readership there is for Canada-oriented blogs (and other materials). It is probably not huge; but for my part, I am an American who reads and subscribes to quite a number of blogs related to Canadian history and literature. Canada is far from the only country that I have that kind of interest in, but like Mexico it does have a special status in my eyes because of its neighbor status with the U.S. (I have lived and worked in Mexico for the past three years as a teacher at a university-based high school or "prepa.")
 I'm ashamed of the fact that with the exception of some residents of Canada-contiguous states such as Maine and Minnesota, my countrymen generally take all things Canadian for granted. I try to add my small amount of weight to the other side of the scale.
 I hope your fine blog has many American readers, perhaps more than I might expect. Do you hear from them much?
Um, no.  American readers, is you there?

Follow @CmedMoore