Sullivan’s blog was a line to the commander in chief, a seductive prospect for any writer, and I wonder if it distracted him and his team as the ground fell away beneath them. If you were writing a blog in 2009 and 2010, you didn’t necessarily see traffic — a function of habit, of the rising internet tide, and of homepage links — vanish immediately, but you could feel the conversation move from big portals and smaller blogs to Twitter.
On Election Day 2008, the biggest account on Twitter, @barackobama, tweeted just once, a banal reminder to vote. Over the next four years, that ecosystem of links and blogs decayed and, in many places, collapsed. Few blogs drive the traffic they once did, and reporters hope their stories will be widely tweeted, rather than linked — though that doesn’t drive the same kind of traffic. When reporters and essayists want to break through, they often take assignments from eavesdropping on conversations between larger Twitter voices, rather than from the old blogs. Or simply join the Twitter arguments themselves.
It was easy, though, to miss Twitter and the broadening news space on the social web, where Facebook is now a huge player and messaging apps are on the rise — if you were still focused primarily on building a destination website. Some bloggers have suffered from the same nostalgic attachment to WordPress that newspaper editors did to their printing presses. I share a lot of that nostalgia, though I don’t miss that sense that the beast you have to feed is the blog’s front page, rather than the sophisticated, advancing social conversation.