A (Partial) History of the Blog

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This week NPR posted Timeline: The Life of the Blog, a history of the blog as we know it today.

It’s a fun trajectory to ponder, from the formation of the Internet’s oldest online communities in 1979 to the launch of Cleveland’s community network for residents, Freenet, in 1986, to the emergence of homepages and online diaries in 1994—and beyond.

The timeline includes the birth of podcasting, and it also chronicles blogs’ effect on political campaigns, but it does not explain how the blogosphere has changed journalism.

I mean, what about bloggers getting paid to link to business’ websites but not telling their readers? What about the trend of downsizing newspapers creating blogs to help axed staffers find work elsewhere? Let’s not forget the bloggers who cut and paste other people’s content and claim it as their own reporting work, or the newspapers that get half of their content from bloggers instead of trained reporters—and pay exponentially less money (or no money) for it.

I’m all for the blog. I’ve blogged for pay and blogged for free, and had fun both ways. But if we’re going to tally the high points of this medium, let’s not forget the lows, either.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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