COMMENTARY

Is There a Place for Medical Blogs in a Medical Media Company?

Disclosures

October 07, 2005

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What is a "blog"? It is a Web log. OK. Is it new? Yes and no. Yes, because it requires the Internet, and the Internet is new. No, because its content has existed in many different media throughout the ages. Really? Like how? Like an American Civil War soldier's diary. Like letters between college students and parents. Like trendy gossip columns. Like Nebraska frontier ladies' sewing circles. Like troubled teenager peer-to-peer telephone calls. Like group therapy sessions. Like the letters column in the old Lancet. Like the tattletale whispers in the sixth grade or legislatures' cloakrooms. Like conversation in a crowded bar. Like Dear Abby and Ann Landers. Like a warring couple in marriage dissolution arbitration. Like a live radio commentator at an air show. Like a Q & A column in JAMA. Like the doctor's chat room in Medscape. Like carefully crafted essays that would never see the light of day outside a blogosphere. Like first-person accounts of illnesses and treatments, and kibitzers' reactions thereto. Like all those things and more. How many blogs are there? Estimated 70 million worldwide.[1] How many people go there? Estimated 50 million Americans in Quarter 1 of 2005.[2] A blog may well be ultimate communication anarchy, and with mass reader and search engine openness, it becomes a powerful privacy buster. However, with that level of rapid market penetration, a media company ignores blogging at its peril. But since the blogger may be the author, editor, publisher, advertiser, critic, reviewer, and owner -- all at the same time -- and fake the whole thing, a trustworthy medical media company may embrace unfiltered blogging at its even greater peril.

That's my opinion. I'm Dr. George Lundberg, Editor-in-Chief of MedGenMed.

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