Is "mainstream" always a bad thing? Powerline's new look.
For those who have not noticed, Powerline has improved its blog with a new look. Powerline has done more than simply change its format. Powerline has removed all references to "Hindrocket" "Big Trunk" and "Deacon". Powerline now uses names in place of the mascots. In other subtle ways, Powerline has taken on a more "mainstream" appearance.
Powerline seemingly has eliminated trackbacks also (this conclusion may be premature as Powerline's trackbacks have worked only sporadically in recent weeks). The loss of trackbacks further isolates the Powerline from the rest of the blogosphere. There will be less opportunity for Powerline to generate traffic for the rest of us and, more importantly, less opportunity for Powerline to benefit from direct contact with the blogosphere. New, fresh blog voices and the pajama clad rabble will have less of an opportunity to provide raw material to the Powerline writers. Powerline will seem to be less like the torchbearer of the revolutionary "Pajamahadeen" that brought down Dan Rather and more like an elder statesman.
I wrote in November about Powerline (and the blogosphere as a whole) being at a crossroads. Powerline, by virtue of its creators' many network appearances and increasing popularity in general, borders on becoming "mainstream." But "mainstream" does not contain the same meaning as the "mainstream" in MSM/DNC. The "MSM/DNC" label is misleading to a certain extent, as the MSM/DNC is far out of the mainstream of American political and cultural thought. It is possible for us to gain widespread popularity while still criticizing the MSM/DNC. As non-MSM/DNC people gain popularity, we shall have to come up with a new name to describe the leftist political/media complex that opposes and destroys American culture. Until then, there is no hypocrisy in conservative bloggers attacking the MSM/DNC, despite the bloggers' growing popularity.
The only danger is that the "mainstreaming" of Powerline and others will lead to subtle, slow moderation in their posts, as they seek more TV appearances and a "respectable" face. As long as they keep attacking the UN, the administration's immigration policy and the New York Times, we don't have to worry about moderation. Only time will tell. We remain in the infancy of this post-Rathergate media world. The future of the media (both new and old) is all of ours to shape.