Sunday, March 19, 2006

'Private Thoughts' About Dateline

A week ago tonight, Lord Zim was on Dateline, representing those few brave blogs that have yet to be corrupted by corporate takeovers and subtler forms of co-optation. The Lord Zim name was clearly visible for a second or three, and the Dateline site on MSNBC featured a very visible link to this site.

Dateline. Prime time Sunday night on NBC. Why am I rehashing details so obvious to anyone who's either just come from MSNBC or has been reading Lord Zim this past week? Because this major "MSM" exposure yielded such minimal traffic. What would you guess?

Five thousand unique visitors?

Five hundred?

Try 50. That's how many people found this blog that night solely because of the show. Most just clicked on the MSNBC link, but some googled "lord zim." That number doubled the next day, dropped to about 30 on Tuesday, and has been eroding slowly ever since. Total Dateline-driven visits? About 250-300. You may be blasé, but I'm kind of amazed by this weak result. And not one comment. Is it something I said? Or didn't?

The funny thing is that Dateline invented "The Mank Blog" -- the brief weekly segment that featured LZ -- primarily to stimulate bloggers to write about ... Dateline. Contrived? Self-conscious? A shining example of fear and marketing replacing news programming with pandering? You bet. But what does it say that something designed to target bloggers and blog readers sent less traffic here in a week than the average successful blog records in an hour?

(OK, maybe Lord Zim isn't Pulitzer material. And it's not focused enough. Or revealing or insightful or funny enough. But heck -- it has its moments. And besides, people don't know what they're clicking on at MSNBC beyond the fact that Mank called this a standard non-corporate blog. Maybe the problem is that most people just don't care about "the private thoughts of one person," as the MSNBC link promises. I know I don't.)

Back to my semi-rhetorical question. If I may attempt to whip up yet more rhetoric, the lousy numbers say something like, "The blogosphere is self-contained and exists outside of and undisturbed by the MSM's efforts to co-opt it (even when that effort masquerades as an effort to expose how guilty other corporations are of co-opting it)."

OK, OK. I protest too much, and it's churlish to bite the hand that fed me 250 readers. Some of those newcomers actually spent time here, and maybe they'll come back. Besides, I liked seeing my copy on TV. I freeze-framed it and read a sentence aloud to my co-auditors in what seemed like a very modern moment of narcissistic indulgence.

But let's test my theory. What if one popular blog or other site did link to Lord Zim? Would the resultant traffic spike put Dateline to shame as I imagine? And er, would anybody care?

Clearly, I'm not above some pandering of my own.

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