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Is the Daily Dish a Blogazine?

October 20, 2010

Andrew Sullivan goes meta:

I’ve thought of the Dish as a blogazine for quite a while now. The model we’ve groped our way toward combines the agility of a pond-skater with the ability to deep dive at any moment . . . Then the links help you explore even more, if your nose takes you there. So the Dish becomes as much a mediator as an individual thinker, as much a collective mind as a single one, as much a biased broadcast as a communal debate. With videos, art, quotes, thoughts, provocations, jokes, and photography thrown in for good measure – some prompted by you, some by me, some by Patrick, Chris, Conor and Zoe. And all, in the end, channeled through what’s left of my fried frontal cortex.

As much as I find this blend of voices intoxicating, it seems to me that Sullivan exaggerates somewhat the extent to which the Daily Dish has become a collective enterprise. Yes, the Dish has an editorial staff and, yes, it is “as much a mediator as an individual thinker.” Yet, as Sullivan himself recently admitted in an NPR interview, the Dish is ultimately “an institution that is just me”; as a Dish reader quoted by NPR put the point, “if Andrew dies, it dies.”

I would distinguish between the design and content of a blog or magazine, on the one hand, and how it is situated institutionally, on the other. In terms of the former, it is clearly the case, as Farhad Manjoo has suggested, that “the lines are blurring — blog posts are looking more like articles, and articles are looking more like blog posts.” At the same time, Glenn Reynolds (quoted by Manjoo) is surely right in claiming that the most important thing about a blog is its “lack of an institutional voice.” Thus, however much Newsweek outwardly resembles a blog, its editorial voice remains that of an institution, not an individual — the show would still go on in the absence of a Samuelson, Weisberg, or Will. And the reverse holds true for the Dish.

On the other hand, who’s to say the Dish doesn’t morph into an institution of its own right? Certainly, recent guest blogging by David Frum and Conor Friedersdorf has given us a taste of what the Dish might become, sans Sullivan.

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