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November 28, 2005

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Mike

Isn't there a pretty good CAFA blog available for free? If so, what could the newletter (at an eye-popping $300) offer that the blog doesn't offer for free?

Evan

Mike: You're speaking of the Class Action Fairness Act Blog.

Mike

Yup - that's the one. And it's one of many sources that have made most newsletters irrelevant. I used to get really excited when my "Litigation" newsletter or "Criminal Justice" magazine would arrive. But now I just see stuff in there that to me - and most other blog readers - is old news. That got me thinking...

Most lawyers don't read blogs; hell, most lawyers don't even know what a blog is. I'm guessing here, but if you proved that 1 in 10 lawyers know what a blog is, I'd be floored. So these newsletters still have value, since so many lawyers are behind the times. But what will happen to various newsletters once more people learn about blogs? Will people still pay big bucks for them?

I had a funny conversation with my wife's boss. He said, "Well, you have a lot of readers. But are you at the point yet where they'll start paying for content." I laughed and said: "In the blogging world, the competition isn't for subscriptions. Rather, with so much free content, the challenge is just to get people reading you." It's a new paradigm, especially in the law world where periodicals are so expensive: the challenge in itself is getting readers. Few of them would pay for blog content.

So, what is the future of newsletters? How will they stay competitive as more and more lawyers learn about blogs?

Evan

Mike: Almost all lawyers know about the Internet and how to search for information (don't they?), so chances are they've read weblogs without knowing it was a "weblog." They just don't know the jargon. That's whey hen I'm talking about my weblog, I call it a "website" -- as in "my website" -- and no one seems perplexed. It's only when I say "weblog" that their eyes glaze over.

As for weblogs and publishing--I think you're right about newsletters being doomed. As one who *looks* for content for my trial-practice website, however, I still think it's true that the best content is restricted--I'm thinking, for example, of Litigation magazine, Trial magazine, the Illinois Bar Journal, lots of stuff on Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw, etc. Those sources still have an edge over weblogs, as do books. But I don't think that will last for long.

Mike

That's whey hen I'm talking about my weblog, I call it a "website" -- as in "my website" -- and no one seems perplexed. It's only when I say "weblog" that their eyes glaze over.

That's really smart. Describing C&F is something I have a hard time doing. E.g., last year I picked up my phone to call my grandma to tell her exciting news - that my blog had been picked up by ALM. Then I realized I didn't know how to explain it, and thus put the phone down.

I've had some smaller pieces published in various places, so that's easy to describe. "Grandma, I got an article published in x-periodical." When your book comes out, well, that's simple enough to explain. And family doesn't really care who publishes these things. I could tell my grandma that I got an article published in Maxim magainze. All she'd hear would be "published," and that would make her proud.

But blogging. Man, that's hard to explain. A blog is self-published, so it's not as pretigious as getting published. Then again, many of us have an impressive corp. of readers who come looking for what we have to say. As far as prestigue goes, why should it matter that x-person is reading my blog or reading something printed elsewhere? The only difference is that I, rather than an editor, selects what I want to write. But if the same caliber of reader is reading both, then it seems that the wall between publish and self-publish collapses.

Does anyone have an easy way to describe blogging without using the word "blog" or "blogger" or "blogging"? Website doesn't fully do it justice, as most people think of websites as static.

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