Despite all the horrendous stories of newspaper layoffs, near bankruptcies, and even "bailout plans for journalists," there's some silver lining in the media world: blogging is blooming into a profitable financial and publishing enterprise for at least a few. The Huffington Post, which had 4.5 million unique visitors in September, just landed $25 million of new funding. It plans focused acquisitions, and currently has a valuation of $100 million.
And despite the decline of traditional newspaper advertising revenue -- down by at least 11 percent from 2007 to 2008 -- online interactive advertising is projected to grow in 2009, with spending increasing by as much as 15%.
To build an online publishing business that's self-sustaining for just one person from online advertising, one commentator at the Media Shift blog estimated that "100,000 monthly uniques (or about 3,300 daily uniques) as the tipping point where a blog or site can start generating livable income."
Not only that, but blogging may have spiritual rewards that other forms of journalism do not, says Arianna Huffington. She writes in "The Meltdown Will Be Blogged": "Blogging is all about connecting to others. The bond between blogger and reader creates an intimacy that is a much-needed corrective to the isolation that hard times bring. I'm always amazed by the things I learn from commenters I've never met but feel that I know. And I'm equally amazed by the things I keep discovering about myself in the course of writing and clarifying what's important to me.
Andrew Sullivan fleshes this experience out in a terrific essay in the Atlantic called "Why I Blog." "Alone in front of a computer, at any moment, are two people: a blogger and a reader," he writes. "The proximity is palpable, the moment human -- whatever authority a blogger has is derived not from the institution he works for but from the humanness he conveys. This is writing with emotion not just under but always breaking through the surface. It renders a writer and a reader not just connected but linked in a visceral, personal way. The only term that really describes this is friendship. And it is a relatively new thing to write for thousands and thousands of friends."