Somewhere, over the rainbow, a blog is born. A blog for Kansas. A blog for America. A blog by a reporter with a difficult-to-pronounce last name. But most importantly, a blog that is AMERICA'S ONLY PLACE dedicated to the vital intersection of politics and Sunflowers. The Heartland gods nod in wise approval.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What's the Matter With Ozblog?

I swore, I swore, I swore that I would not become one of those bloggers whose blog sits in cyberlimbo, seldom updated and existing with no point. And here I am, letting Ozblog linger, devoid of effort but not officially closed. So I think I'm going to have to at least close it out in current form. I have hopes of composing some sort of valedictory essay this weekend, but have little faith in my own reliability at this point.

The recent dropoff in the blog is a convergence of factors. Most immediately, my morning routine has changed. After neglecting to properly treat some nagging sports injuries that have been lingering for up to 18 months, I'm going whole-hog on physical therapy right now. The appointments are in the morning, so I'm often not at work until 10 to 11 a.m. Do the blog, and it's already lunch. Even with Congress out of session, I just don't have that luxury.

But that's just an immediate cause. Even if I were my normal in-the-office-at-eight-a.m. self, I just don't think I'd have the same motivation for Ozblog I had in the halcyon days of the 2004 campaign. Ozblog was, as the Knight Ridder-generated header (more on that later) still states, "Observations on the 2004 presidential election." That made a lot of sense up until the election. It made a lot of sense for the first couple weeks after the election, when the votes were still in dispute and partisans pondered the results. But it doesn't make sense anymore, and my thoughts on how to evolve Ozblog into a grander forum for Heartland political discussion are problematic when applied to the site you see before you.

Following that thought: Part of the tension in continuing this particular blog is its Knight Ridder identity. They set up the site, they promoted it, and now they could care less about it. That's perfectly logical, from their standpoint, and I don't begrudge 'em -- the dirty little secrets of blogs is that even the most popular ones have a fraction of readers that mainstream do. I, for example, had the best-read KR blog of the conventions. On my peak days, I had about 1,000 readers. The Wichita Eagle has an estimated 200,000 readers every weekday -- and it's not considered a "big" paper, either.

In retrospect, KR's blog effort was all about the zeitgeist -- blogging was the Big Media Story of the conventions, and it continued to draw attention throughout the campaign. Like any decent corporation (and don't get me wrong, KR is pretty decent), KR wanted its flag on blogging, and I flew it proudly. Still do, but it's akin to flying a flag on the north pole -- symbolic, can make a nice picture, but not exactly a sight that gets a lot of traffic. And there have always been frustrations with the way this was set up -- not so much over content (never had any serious problems with that) so much as a lack of control over the blog's design, its interactivity, the lack of willingness to allow photos, etc. That was all swallowable, when in return for the restrictions I got my smiling little blogface on the front of Kansas.com every day. But that hasn't happened since Nov. 3, and the rationale for the compromise has evaporated.

If I continue the blog at all, it would seem to make more sense as an indy, personal blog dealing with the same topics in a way that provides more depth and discussion opportunity. Given the deterioration in reader numbers since corporate promotion ended, divorce from the company isn't going to change traffic much -- it would take awhile to get back to the October #s (about 300 readers a day) no matter what I do at this point. But at least then I can play with photos, set up feedback, etc. Of course, the complications of running the blog and my day job would exist, but I'm not overly concerned about that, as Ozblog wouldn't change much in content, just in creativity. And as I said, content has never been the problem.

So that's where I'm at. I feel bad, because I know people have, like, bookmarked this thing, and I feel like I've let 'em down. But anyone who's visited lately deserves this overdue explanation, and I don't expect this to be the very last post. Penultimate post, perhaps. But I've still got more thinking aloud to do, and as always, I appreciate your patience.