The blog as literary genre

This morning’s Observer column

Initially, blogging had a bad press, at least in the press. Editors derided it as vanity publishing by egomaniacs. Who did these oiks think they were, imagining people would be interested in their views? Working journalists – incredulous that people would write for no financial reward – ridiculed blogging as self-indulgent insanity.

It turned out that this was an epic misjudgment, but it took a few high-profile casualties to bring home the message. In 2002 the Republican majority leader in the US Senate, Trent Lott, was brought down by a story that was ignored by the mainstream media but kept alive within the blogosphere. Then in 2005 the career of Dan Rather, the celebrated American TV network anchorman, was unceremoniously terminated when he (and his colleagues) casually dismissed bloggers’ criticism of the evidence used in a 60 Minutes documentary about George W Bush’s national service…