Will MSM Kill the Internet Star?

In today’s Star, David Olive notes an interesting phenomenon,

A funny thing happened on the way to blogosphere dominance of the global conversation. Many of the most prominent bloggers have hitched their wagons to the traditional mainstream media (MSM). Yes, the same MSM that bloggers, or Internet diarists, ceaselessly ridiculed as slaves to conventional wisdom…

It works the other way, of course. The Toronto Star is in the company of scores of MSM outlets, broadcast and print, in “repurposing” traditional journalists into bloggers. Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman completes the points he makes in his New York Times columns on his “The Conscience of a Liberal” blog for that paper.

The death of print media, in other words, may be averted by learning what has been working online.

My most recent experience of this was a news story from the Globe I picked up on Twitter, about Twitter being unable to trademark the word “Tweet.” Aside from the obvious ironies of finding a story about a social media platform on that platform, what struck me the most was that the story mentioned Twitter apps like TweetMarks, Cotweet and Tweetphoto, linked to a blog post by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, and provided a download of the judgment by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

It’s that last part that has me slightly perturbed, and it has nothing to do with a lawyer’s paranoia about being the gatekeeper for legal information.

Legal decisions are not the common consumption of the average reader. Usually I have to dig up a decision for a blog post personally, and a lot of what may of us try to do is facilitate access to legal information online by identifying where it can be found.

So my question to all of you is, if this trend continues, which of the following are likely to happen:

  1. Blogs will eventually die, before they even really begin for some firms. All those blogging lawyers will resort to traditional marketing/PR tactics, and ocassionally author a piece for a MSM site/publication.
  2. The biggest law blog stars online will just become traditional journalists, possibly working per diem for MSM if maintaining a traditional practice, or full-time as legal commentators.
  3. Law content will become so specialized that MSM will produce specific law publications, online or otherwise, and will draw on a blend of traditional journalistic/publishing and legal talent.
  4. The convenient nature of clicking directly to decisions and related commentary means that all future legal news and research will be exclusively online, and MSM as the big players in content production will monopolize the efforts.
  5. Given the relatively small market for legal content, most MSM will leave these online publications for those already engaging in this niche area.


  1. I vote for a combination of 1 and 5. Most of the public has neither the patience nor interest to follow complex discussions of legal reasoning — especially when it differs from conventional understanding. Legal analysis doesn’t contain much steady income generation potential for “mainstream” publishers. The mainstream doesn’t want analysis, it wants confirmation of existing beliefs and/or sensationalism.