In 1953, disgusted that newspapers would not let him print the truth about the demagogic, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Isador Stone started a newsletter. He hand-cranked IF Stone’s Weekly out on a used mimeograph machine for a majority of the 18 years it existed. Historians identify Stone as the first journalist to point out that McCarthy’s spectacular claims of Communist infiltration in government and the military were fabrications. His first newsletter had a circulation of under 1,000. At the time, virtually all American newspapers were dutifully recording and amplifying McCarthy’s lies. But his voice reached other journalists and he started to make a difference. Over the years, “Izzy” Stone built a career by poring over thick government records, finding and reporting on deceptions. Presidents, generals and congressmen read him with trepidation. The Washington press core universally turned to his newsletter as an important lead-generator. By the time he retired in 1971, with moderate fame and almost no fortune, his esteemed newsletter had a circulation of 70,000.
Suffering from one expensive law suit too many, the National Enquirer hired its first fact checker in 1974. They then made it editorial policy to start covering real events rather than to continue making them up. Three years later, the supermarket tabloid reached their all-time high circulation of 7 million, with an issue whose front page sported an unauthorized photo of a dead Elvis in an open coffin.
Stone’s Weekly focused on what most people considered important. The Enquirer focuses on what some people think is interesting. The former had low ratings, but heads of state and directors of military legions were among them. The other has high circulation and readers who believe in the wisdom of Jerry Springer and that Elvis rose from that coffin.
My point is this: There are those who promote the thought that bloggers with the most links are the most influential. I disagree. I think its not how many link to you but who links to you that matters most.