NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Last Friday, I wrote that the Internet turns journalism into a dialogue. Some readers may have detected a little nibble at the hands feeding me.
But there's another aspect of Internet journalism from which this site benefits enormously. The Internet makes journalism a cult of personality.
In this we're seeing a return to the 19th century. The great journalism institutions of our time were once just start-ups, feeding off the personalities of their founders, reflecting their passions. I'm talking here of people like James Bennett of the
New York Herald
, Horace Greeley of the
New York Tribune
and Charles Dow of
The Wall Street Journal
The best way to illustrate how this is happening is through my own beat, technology.
I will begin at my beginning, with my first online job, at
. It was founded by Wendy Woods, a San Francisco TV journalist, and it reflected her personality. It was, in some ways, the very first blog. It was infused with her being and when I joined her in 1985 I took that lesson to heart, putting my personality into my own work from Atlanta.
, on GE's
service, and then on
, until it had 12 journalists around the world. One colleague, in Sydney, even renamed my son, faxing a page from the local dictionary so John Frederick Blankenhorn would not be a John Thomas.
was sold to
The Washington Post
and within a few years it disappeared.
was not a "property," it was Wendy and it could not survive without her.
A year after leaving
I interviewed for a job at an online start-up then called
. Their plan, like Wendy's was to combine TV sensibility with Internet news. After the dot-bomb killed the great print publishers -- Ziff-Davis, IDG, and CMP --
became the dominant force in tech journalism.
So it was when I joined, creating an open source blog for their ZDNet unit, in 2005. But blogging was changing the game, opening it up to a 19th century sensibility. I treated my blog as my property, but it wasn't, and
was increasingly becoming an institution, faceless and corporate. This may be why
(CBS - Get Report)
bought it in 2008, but even then the company held a dominant market position.