Blogging — especially political blogging — is not an easy business by nature.
What makes it difficult is not necessarily the writing itself, although someone who does not love the art of writing will have a much harder time of it.
What makes the industry challenging is respectability; serious political bloggers find themselves in a constant struggle to be taken seriously.
Granted, respectability for bloggers has been much easier to come by in recent years, as more consumers add online media to a regular diet of information and news. The more political bloggers provide a consistent stream of serious (and reliable) news and opinion, the better it is for the industry as a whole.
That is what makes the latest advertisement by Javier Manjarres, managing editor of Shark-Tank.com, disturbing and troublesome for the entire industry.
For an industry seeking respectability, this ad doesn’t help.
Manjarres, a conservative firebrand, attempts to give his readers what he generously refers to as “sharp analysis and biting commentary.” More often, the content comes from a decidedly right-leaning political perspective.
Not that that’s a bad thing, as Jerry Seinfeld once said.
In a recent email blast to Manjarres’ subscribers — emblazoned with the Shark-Tank.com masthead – comes a fascinating (yet disturbing) offer from Bob Pierce, President of FightFast/TRS:
Not sure if you heard or not, but you’re on the Conservative-Community hotlist. Which means, with your permission, I will rush ship you a stunning top-quality throwing knife — along with a knife throwing instructional DVD … for FREE!
“I’m not joking around here,” Pierce writes.
We certainly hope he is NOT joking. Inclusion in something like the “Conservative Community Hotlist” undoubtedly sounds serious.
For the one or two people out there who are unaware, blogging (like its sister industry journalism) is a business. Big business. Advertising is how bloggers and TV stations, newspapers et al — again, serious ones — pay the bills. That fact should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Political blogging is an industry where fortunes rise and fall on the quality of the product an editor chooses to share with subscribers – its loyal fan base. Readers expect more quality, not less.
Emails promoting throwing knives — even one with a subject line of Ultra-Vicious (NO-cost) throwing knife — are more appropriate for an audience of doomsday preppers, not those seeking serious discourse on the significant political issues of the day.
To readers, Manjarres’ email was confusing, to say the least, leaving his average subscriber confused about what exactly, as a pundit, he is trying to say. Disclaimer or not (and there are two on the page), the ad does reflect on Manjarres and political bloggers in general.
The need to boost the bottom line is entirely reasonable; nobody expects anything different. But advertising choices should ideally reflect the editorial carriage of a website — or at least take its audience a little more seriously.
In a world where political bloggers constantly struggle for respectability from the mainstream, it’s the (absolute) least they can do.