Barry Ritholtz is once again in Zero Hedge-marketing mode, which is probably not too surprising: this marks only the second time in under a week in which Mr. Ritholtz has exhibited a fascination with Zero Hedge, previously demonstrating a borderline obsession by actually scouring through tweet mentions of our humble blog. And humble we are - we have paid Barry exactly zero for this ongoing free advertising fest. That said, we are confident Barry will be happy with us reposting his entire post for our readers because he does bring up some valid questions, to which we provide our own brief perspective.
To wit (and we do wonder just which blogger types out there actually relish their anonymity for the sake of retaining their jobs):
I was speaking with a few other trader/blogger types (they best remain nameless so as to keep their jobs) and this interesting observation was made: It has been exactly one year ago today when a (mostly) fawning NY Magazine article on Zero Hedge came out: The Dow Zero Insurgency.
Since that article, argued one of the hedgies in the group, Zero Hedge has seen their influence wax, then wane. The incisive, no hold bars critiques of Goldman Sachs, HFT, regulatory failures and corporate excess seems to have gotten lost in a sea of conspiracy theories, standard gold bug rhetoric, and lots of C grade commentary.
What made the blog great — a singular expert voice (with a few supporting characters) that wrote with passion and insiders knowledge. But that voice seems to have gotten lost in a sea of supporting characters; the original proportions have been inverted.
Its not that the good stuff isn’t there — it is, if you hunt for it. Its just that it is now surrounded by so much other stuff it becomes challenging to locate. (It doesn’t help that lots of writers seem to publish under the name Tyler Durden) This seems to be the same challenge that many of the multi-author sites have — from Street.com to HuffPo to Seeking Alpha to Minyanville to Business Insider — they must wrestle with this issue on a daily basis. Can you produce more content but still maintain the level of intensity and passion when its a team, and not a single voice?
Whenever a narrow focus and intensity is replaced with an broader emphasis on well, nearly everything, must something get lost in the expansion? I still read ZH — but much less than I used to, now that the inmates have taken over the asylum.
A what point does a blog jump the shark? Not just Zero Hedge, but The
Big Picture, or boingboing or your favorite blog ___ here?
We forgot to mention that the whole post was prefaced by a very informative quote by Paul Krugman: "Whom the Gods would destroy, they first put on the cover of Business Week." Yes, the same Krugman as seen below:
(at least Newsweek has been destroyed so far)
So, a few quick observations:
First, we would like to make a slight correction to Barry's second paragraph: you see, where the author of Bailout Nation (Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #221,485 in Books, full link for those who wish to purchase it - see we return free marketing favors) is wrong is that our critiques of "Goldman Sachs, HFT, regulatory failure" (oh and he forgot to mention prop trading, most definitely prop trading) were in fact considered "conspiracy theories" by pretty much everyone, including said author himself, until such time as they were proven to be in fact, well, fact.
Second.... well, here we were going to say something smart and worthy of at least a grade B in commentary, and provide a witty yet insightful observation of Barry's own travails as a "Wall Streeter who blogs", but you see the inmates took over, and are covering just about everything else, which just so happens to be, is far more important. Furthermore, we are confident that Barry will do a great job of providing first hand commentary vis-a-vis the aforementioned, on one of his daily appearances of CNBC's crack trading show, Fast Money, where he has recently become a staple, and which features such other prominent hedge funders (or is that fund of funders, we don't know: we just comment on Wall Street)-cum-Oscar-worthy Wall Street 2 stars, as SkyBridge Capital's (and Obama basketball nemesis) Anthony Scaramucci.
Oh, and third, and last, we would like to add one thing. A blog, we are often reminded, just like a waxing or waning company (even one trading at 100x forward multiples), is only as good as the quality of its products, or, as the case may be, content. In a world in which the next best blog is just a mouseclick away, quality of content tends to be a critical driver of that one most important thing: reader interest (especially of the sophisticated variety, because when it comes to discussing such issues as CDS, HFT, commodity contangos, VWAP, and so forth, especially in less than a 100 page slideshow format, we are confident that Barry would agree readers should at least pretend to be sophisticated) is just about the purest indication of not only whether the blog is right or wrong, waxing or waning, but also provides the best answer to Mr. Ritholtz on his rhetorical question of shark jumping.
So here is our humble 2 cent contribution to Barry's question.
So as we muse what other C grade stuff to discuss next, here is our own crowd query:
How the hell are Tech Crunch and Mashable considered business blogs?