Gimme Some Lovin’

Posted by: Keith Kloor  :  Category: bloggers, Journalism

I started Collide-a-Scape in January 2009, when I was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism ( CEJ). Initially, I envisioned blogging about the Southwest. It was to be a continuation of the energy, ecology, and archaeology stories I had already been writing during the 2000s, for various publications and for Audubon magazine when I was an editor there.

I remember Tom Yulsman, CEJ’s co-director, laughing when I described the Southwestern focus of the blog. Who are you kidding, he said. You’re not going to want to limit yourself.

Heh. I think it took about a week for him to be proved right.

It also didn’t take long for me to embrace the blog and find readers (or them to find me). A few dust-ups soon followed, as I started watchdogging some of the self-appointed watchdogs in the climate community. That morphed into a closer and more sustained examination of the raging climate controversies that still tend to dominate the public discourse.

Over time, I have found these excursions to be the least personally satisfying but the highest traffic-generating posts. That’s problematic. I want to be relevant. I like being part of the daily conversation. That’s a big reason why I’ve continued to blog nearly every day. But if the public conversation on climate change is not advancing to a higher level, then what’s the point? Well, an underlying motivation for me (in terms of climate change) is to probe or point to areas and issues that are not so much discussed. And to do it in as fair a manner as possible.

My approach was first recognized by Michael Lemonick in his 2010 Scientific American profile of Judith Curry, in which he referred to my blog as “militantly evenhanded.” By this, I think he meant that I don’t play favorites. Sure, I have my biases and my appetite for blog warfare sometimes gets the better of me, but in general, I will poke and prod just about anyone, including those in my own fraternity, as I did here last year, when I was dismayed by an unusual arrangement between a non-profit advocacy organization and a publication I have long admired.

Some may give me points for my militant evenhandedness, but not much more than that. In an article for the Fall issue of the Society of Environmental  Journalists newsletter, Bud Ward (a co-founder of the organization and the editor of the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, where I now write a weekly column) surveyed the fast changing journalistic landscape. He discussed some of the new models, partnerships, and individual initiatives that have sprung up in recent years, and mentioned my “self-made brand of independent journalism/blogging” at Collide-a-Scape, and wondered if it was sustainable. Ward captured my situation perfectly:

Without any financing and conducted more or less from his abiding commitment to journalism and science, he [Kloor] recently found himself asked by a prominent national magazine editor if he couldn’t simply continue his site as a “public service.” The implication: Why a need for money in return for his labors.

The comment Ward refers to was made to me in passing at last year’s AAAS conference in Washington, D.C. Some context: This particular editor happened to mention, unsolicited, that he was a fan of my blog. I was flattered but responded, jokingly, that my wife would prefer if such appreciation was rewarded financially. That’s when he laughed and said that what I did was a public service. I know he meant no offense, but I was offended, nonetheless.

Now before going any further, let me acknowledge that many science writers blog for free (or pennies) at various blogging networks. I’m opposed to that on principle. It cheapens the value of professional science writers/journalists and reinforces the expectation that little to no money should be paid for their work-if it appears on a blog. A year ago (at that same AAAS conference), I said this much to a friend/colleague who had just joined one of these blogging networks. Her response to me: Nobody is paying you to blog at your site. Ouch.

At the time, I glossed over this inconvenient fact by saying that at least I wasn’t adding value to another site by providing it with free content. My friend wasn’t impressed with that counter-argument and truth be told, neither was I.

Still, I continued to blog dutifully, as more of my peers (privately) cheered me on. Their plaudits, combined with the satisfaction I derived from blogging, blunted my mounting resentment at the expectation that I soldier on for the public good. (In fairness, let me be the first to admit that I have plenty of detractors who do not share this view.) But by the end of last year, I had resolved to reconcile these conflicting emotions.

Hence the new “donate” button on the right sidebar. I would never expect to make a living off this blog. Far from it. But I also want my endeavors to be acknowledged by more than expressions of appreciation. So thank you for whatever support you may be inclined to give this blog. It will go straight to my new Harley Davidson motorcycle fund.

Seriously, your support will help sustain the upkeep of the blog and my wife’s acceptance of it. Most important of all, I will truly feel your undying love and devotion.

54 Responses to “Gimme Some Lovin’”

  1. Marlowe Johnson Says:

    Keith what extra value do you provide with your blog that others do not?  IOW why should a journalist expect compensation for blogging whereas other amateur bloggers do not? I appreciate your candor and can understand your desire (if not your justification) for compensation, but if that’s the case then surely the easiest way to remedy the situation is to put up some banner ads isn’t it? 

  2. Keith Kloor Says:


    I don’t like the way those ads junk up a site. But if I continue with it, maybe one day…

    As for what “extra value” it may or may not provide, I’ll let the blog speak for itself. Lots of readers (such as yourself) who get agitated by what I write probably feel it brings little to none value. That’s okay.

    Yet you remain a loyal and engaged reader, as do many others who often take issue with the content on Collide-a-Scape.

    So thanks to you and those others for helping to bring some value to the blog.

  3. Jarmo Says:

    The government just increased the tax on diesel by 13 eurocents per liter (about .60 $ per US gallon) here. This and various other money holes that have appeared out of the blue mean that my contribution will be to add some value to your blog by commenting.

    I’m working on the love & devotion part…;)

  4. Artifex Says:

    @1 - Obviously Keith provides some extra value. You think so at least enough to view and post.

    Keith, I have a wonderful idea for you that greatly appeals to the capitalist in me. Offer moderation privileges for cash. Don’t want to be moderated, pay Keith and it is all good.

    Maybe you could even auction moderation rights to limit the number of posts by specific individuals and encourage bidding wars between denier and alarmist factions. Cynical but profitable ! What’s not to like ?

  5. Keith Kloor Says:


    Clever, but hardly anyone is on moderation. I aim to keep it that way. But I’m open to other ideas! 

  6. Tim W. Says:

    Wait - what?  You’re not funded by big oil nor big green??  I thought all opinions were funded by Koch or Soros?

  7. Marlowe Johnson Says:

    I feel the same way about commercials which is why torrents and PVRs are so handy :)

    I find the topics that Keith writes about interesting even though I often disagree with his POV. The question is not whether or not what he blogs about has value but rather why he thinks he should receive compensation when other bloggers do not.


  8. EdG Says:

    #4 Artifex wrote:

    “Keith… Offer moderation privileges for cash. Don’t want to be moderated, pay Keith and it is all good.

    Maybe you could even auction moderation rights to limit the number of posts by specific individuals and encourage bidding wars between denier and alarmist factions. Cynical but profitable!”

    Oh no. We have enough of this ‘Chicago’ action in the White House already.

    On the other hand, Keith could only post comments that pass a certain test and then some sociologist could do a study and say that 97% of people agree with that point. 

  9. thingsbreak Says:

    I value your site because it’s the closest thing I can find to what Prometheus and some of the older blogs used to be in terms of not being totally dominated by cranks but still affording decent conversation with “skeptics” and the unconvinced. It’s not an easy thing to cultivate, from the looks of all of the prior efforts that have shut down or been over run. I am going to leave my criticisms aside, because I don’t think that’s relevant here and I would like to see C-a-S continue.
    I do have some questions to ask about some things you wrote in your post, but I’ll let the thread go on for a bit more so as not to potential side track it.

  10. BBD Says:

    Ah, this is tough. I never pay for blogs as they are (to my mind) predicated on free access. But no man but a fool can ignore Johnson (Samuel, not Marlowe):
    No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.
    A very post-post-modern conundrum: digital media have gutted the print business model and produced many wondrous things. But how long will that last?

  11. Keith Kloor Says:


    I explained why I thought it was wrong that other journalist/bloggers are not compensated. By blogging for free, they undermine the value for everyone.

    I’ve also railed about this previously (i.e. the Huffington post model).

    FWIW, I distinguish between journalists/science writers who blog and everyone else. Personally, I would never blog for Huffington post, PLOS, Scientific American, or anyone else that is a content provider-unless I was paid. 

    But really, by doing it for free here I’m not any better. I just perpetuate the expectation that it should be for free. 

    I’m also willing to abide by the judgment of readers. I promised my wife that if few readers donated, then I would stop blogging. It makes no sense for me to blog at this stage, unless people value it enough in a way that justifies me not spending time on other means that would bring in income.
    I can appreciate that the situation is different for journalists/writers with salaried positions. But I’m a freelancer with an unpredictable income stream. Blogging for free, in my case, can no longer be justified. 

  12. Barry Woods Says:

    pretty much everyone blogs for free, the sceptical blogs have the occasional tip drive and usually get peanuts

    The one exception to that, was probably when the readers at Climate Audit, pretty much spontaneoulsy donated money to Climate Audit, with the sole purpose of funding Steve Mcintyres trip to oOndon, to attend and sit on the panel of the Guardians climategate debate.

    Over 250 contributed (and I was one of them). It was a good debate as well, the guardian were quite surprised, but pleased to have him..

    My point is… very little money will probably come your way, but please don’t stop blogging… try and do a ‘deal’ - limit it to 1 or 2 a week.

    I’m lucky to manage 1 or 2 a month. ;-) (blog posts that is)  


  13. Marlowe Johnson Says:

    If it’s a question of financial sustainability then I’d suggest you reconsider your view on the use of banner ads. I suspect you’d get far more money than you would with donations and it would be more predictable.  I don’t know about you, but around these parts she-who-must-be-obeyed likes to keep things predictable; particularly when it comes to money.

    The other problem with the donation model is that it encourages free riders, who are of course the source of all evil in the world.


  14. Barry Woods Says:

    check with Andrew montford - similar thoughts about funding a while back… ads he said were ‘small peanuts’ :(

  15. Nullius in Verba Says:

    Keith, you have my sympathies and respect, especially with regard to the wife and income, but I find your economic philosophy rather surprising. Most people blog for free because they enjoy it, or they otherwise get something from it that makes the effort worthwhile. Writers like writing, they like to write for an appreciative audience, and they’ll write for branded outlets because that gets them a bigger and better audience. People normally only expect paying for doing things for others that people generally don’t want to do.
    It would be as strange as if I invited contributions paying me for commenting here. After all, I devote some of my time to it, and some might even regard it as a public service, so don’t I deserve paying for it?
    If you like blogging and can afford the time, then don’t worry about how you ‘ought’ to be paid for it. The world does not owe you or your profession a living - there is no ‘expectation’ that it should be free to encourage, the price is set by basic economics. If you don’t like blogging enough to do it for free, or can’t afford the time, then go do something that pays better. The pay is there to tell you what other people want/need and don’t have enough of, so if you find something else pays well and blogging doesn’t, that tells you that you are doing more public good, helping others more, by doing the former rather than the latter. High pay goes with public service. The world has more than enough science bloggers - so go and give it something it doesn’t have enough of.

  16. Keith Kloor Says:

    Niv (15)

    You are conflating or confusing hobbyist writers with professional journalists. If I was just Joe Schmo down the street writing this blog, I wouldn’t expect any compensation.

    But as someone who has both studied and written on a host of environmental issues, including climate change, I bring a certain amount of knowledge to the table. And a deep network of sources. My curiosity, fed by past and current scholarship, leads me to pursue questions on this blog that a lot of you seem to find engaging (for better or worse).

    I should also add that I’ve enjoyed blogging so much (that should be evident) that this is why I’ve done it as long as I have, without being compensated. And yes, there have been other rewards, such  a higher public profile, and other paying gigs resulting from this blog.

    But at this point, I don’t feel those rewards justify blogging on a near daily basis. Not without my time and efforts being compensated for.  

    But to your last point, yes, the world does have ample science bloggers, which I happen to think is a good thing. It may well be that there is nothing to distinguish me from them (in fact, many of them are superior writers.) 

    But again, I would argue that what I do here is different than what many science bloggers do. It’s closer to what Revkin does at Dot Earth (and he does it much better than me).

    Do you see what I’m getting at?  

  17. Dean Says:

    As somebody who once tried his hand at freelance magazine writing in a very different subject area, and found that the field was overwhelmed by people who didn’t need to be paid, but really wanted to see their name in print, I can sympathize. Yes, many people do it for free, but how many of them do it well if the subject is technical? Many magazines saw their standards decline because it was too easy to use cheapo writing rather than pay professionals for quality.

    If you’re looking to stablize your income, a donations button will not help. It might provide symbolic support, but the internet is the land of freeloading. It’s a great sharing invention but a reliable business model for making an income does not yet exist. People make tons of money at it, but there is far more chance involved than traditional forms of business.

    Good luck in whatever you choose.


  18. Barry Woods Says:

    16# you and every other professional journalist, these days I’m afraid… :(

    freelance blogging is obviously nowhere financially, profesional or otherwise.. revkin presumably gets paid by a paper… Monbiot by the Guardian (£65k!) so it is find a good employer.. ie I think you write better and more honestly than Monbiot (by that I mean, you are more self aware)

    Basically, if you are like a Monbiot, a Revkin or a Delingpole, you can generate web traffic for an employer, you can get a good salary. 

    Alternatively, treat it as a hobby, 1 or 2 a month, or whenever it gets interesting..

    Your wife wants you to get paid.. my wife wouldn’t let me pay for reading a blog ;-)      especially as I have my own..

    No money for guess posts at WUWT either, of course.. ad traffic there apparently peanuts (according to Judith Curry).. and  WUWT should hit 100 million views tomorrow!!

    Interestingly, did you see this new blog, The Fifth Column - mainstream journalists, presumably writing outside the constraints of their employers?

    Michael Buerk’s (of the BBC) podcast, was virtual climate heresy in BBC terms,  was interesting enough to generate this post by me. (transcript of podcast at the end)

  19. Keith Kloor Says:

    Dean (17) and Marlowe (13),

    I fully recognize the implications of the “free rider,” especially with respect to something like this, which people are already accustomed to receiving for free.

    That’s why this will be an interesting little exercise, because I know how many readers I have.

    Also, the issue here (for me) is more about principle than stabilizing income. I wouldn’t expect even an outpouring of donations to stabilize my income, as this is a one thing thing. (well, I’d might make a plea twice a year, if this one works). 

    But as a freelancer, I can blog in good conscience if enough people show that they value what I do here. If not, so be it. I’ll accept that judgement. 

    Now a number of readers have donated thus far, which I very much appreciate. But I’m going to hold off on accepting your contributions until mid-next week. I rather wait and see what the response is.  

  20. BBD Says:

    Name your fee and I will think about it.

  21. Keith Kloor Says:

    BBD, I wouldn’t think to do that. (But nobody’s is giving less than $1,000, if that helps.) Seriously, people should contribute what they are comfortable with. If you need something to gauge by, the sums so far are between $10-$25.

  22. BBD Says:

    Per month? Quarter? Year? If you want money, you have to be clear about how much and when.

  23. Gaythia Says:

    Just as with climate, humans have a hard time wrapping their brains around long term consequences and social costs.
    It’s not just about journalists, we all need to figure out how we avoid the new feudalism.   

    What happens if we proceed to the point where information is free, and only the control of it is valuable?


  24. Tom Fuller Says:

    Oh, come on BBD. I put $20 in and I don’t even comment here any more. Pony up-it’s cheap at twice the price for your own little soapbox.

  25. BBD Says:

    You mistake the purpose of my question.

  26. Tom Fuller Says:

    Just teasing, BBD.

  27. Nullius in Verba Says:

    “You are conflating or confusing hobbyist writers with professional journalists. If I was just Joe Schmo down the street writing this blog, I wouldn’t expect any compensation.”
    I understand the distinction you’re making, I just don’t understand why you think it means you should expect compensation.
    On a similar basis, I am both a hobbyist blog commenter and a professional scientist. I bring a certain amount of knowledge to the table - years of formal training, practical experience, years of reading and thinking about it. So if I use my professional knowledge of science, that I normally get paid for, to write science-full blog comments here, should I expect compensation for doing so? Should bloggers be competing to pay the best commenters to comment on their sites rather than someone else’s?
    The thought had never occured to me until your post, and I find it a fascinating consideration. If commenters add content to a site, does it have economic value, who owns it, how should we set a price on it? Is there actually a hidden marketplace in commentary? Not for money of course (apart from certain astroturf PR agencies, who have been known…) but for all the other things people write for: attention, praise, feedback, information, insight, etc. Do the blogs that give their commenters the best feedback get the best commenters?
    But that’s besides the point. It simply hadn’t occurred to me that anyone could take it as a point of principle that they ought to be paid for what many other people do for free; or that being a professional journalist meant you ought to get paid for writing, rather than being able to get paid for writing making you a professional journalist. And of course a paid writer writes what they’re paid to write, not what they want.
    “But again, I would argue that what I do here is different than what many science bloggers do.”
    I’m sorry to say, I hadn’t noticed.
    There are science bloggers around who specialise in information-rich posts: they present data, statistics, charts, equations, reams of understanding and insight. Some blog on the science itself, some on the economics, some on the practical engineering, some on the politics and culture. They do interviews with big names, they uncover scandals, break hot news, get exclusives. Some blogs manage to attract large numbers of high-level experts into the comments, willing to argue it out with people at length. Some are very funny, covering their material with brilliant satirical humour.
    What special features, over and above a hobbyist blogger grabbing bits of articles from all over the internet and adding their own opinion or commentary on them, do you think you provide? What examples of work based on your specialist knowledge or network of contacts are you thinking of? I recall Chris Mooney doing interviews with people like Michael Mann, do you have something equivalent? Have you got anything interesting out of them, that wasn’t already in the public domain? What were your scoops and exclusives?
    Because while I like the site, I respect your comment policies, and enjoy the company (even the ones who don’t like me), I had assumed that it was a bit of a hobby on the side for a professional writer who just liked to write. It’s good, as one would expect from a professional, but is it anything one couldn’t get elsewhere?
    I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been missing something. Anyway, I wish you well in your funding drive, and whatever you choose to do.

  28. Pascvaks Says:

    Various thoughts -

    If you write it we will read it.  Imagine the comments section keeps you busy.  For more time go to ‘No Comments’.  Not monetary, but more time.  Discussion and moderation cost a lot of time.

    If the above still isn’t ‘worth’ the price, freeze it, kill it, come back in 10+/- years.  You’re in your prime now and in the middle of the muddle, focus on you and the family, tomorrow’s another day.

    You have a fine mind and, I hope, a long rewarding life ahead of you.  If it’s “Shut It Down” time, don’t give it a second thought.  You’ll be missed, but not forgotten.  Get on with the more important things in life, then after the kids get into college, etc., start up a ‘Collide-A-Scape II’ and wow the world again.

    PS:  And keep your perspective and sense of humor, don’t go sour;-)


  29. Keith Kloor Says:

    Niv (27)

    You remind me of that saying in sports, “you’re only as good as your last game.”

    I also wonder how long you’ve been reading this blog. But in any case, I’m not going to spend my Saturday morning annotating this comment with all the various posts that fit your criteria. Oddly, you missed a big one that was referenced in the post (here’s a hint: why do you think Lemonick mentioned my blog in his SciAm profile of Judith Curry?)

    To your point, though, I used to do more actual reporting and interviews for this blog, but it became quite a time suck. Would I love to do more of it here? Sure. But not for free. If other science bloggers want to do that for no compensation, more power to them, but that also speaks to one of my larger points.

    Anyway, mid-next week, I will do a final round-up post that recalls (and links to) many of what I would consider the most valuable and interesting posts that were produced at this site. You will find that a number of them meet the criteria you have put forward.

    Meanwhile, how about you naming some of those science bloggers that you regularly read for that extra value you defined. I’d like to see which ones are doing it for no financial compensation and which ones are supported by a news organization, institution/organization or think tank. 


  30. kdk33 Says:


    I think this is one of your most interesting posts…

    Government funded science concludes, we need more government to fund more science. 

    See how that works.

  31. kim Says:

    The post in which Gavin Schmidt admitted that the Hockey Stick was worthless before 1500 AD was priceless.  As one of the few, the lucky few, on moderation I say keep up the good work.

  32. Tom Yulsman Says:

    Nullias in Verba: Should professional photographers not get paid for their work?

    Literally billions of people on this planet take pictures. So using the logic of your question, I’ll ask another one: Why should a relative tiny handful of picture takers be compensated? 

    The answer: Because they don’t actually take pictures. They take photographs. And if you don’t know the difference, just compare the snapshots of your cousin Doris with what’s published in National Geographic.

    It’s true that many amateurs take photographs of National Geographic quality. (I like to think I’m one of them. ;-) )  But there’s another difference. The folks who do work for National Geo not only are photographers; they’re also professionals — which means they usually bring extra value to their photographic work AND feed and shelter their families by doing so.

    NV, I’m sure you are a wonderful writer. But presumably, you put dinner on the table and a roof over your head through other activities. That’s not the case with Keith. He pays the rent on his miniscule and grotesquely over-expensive apartment (sorry Keith!) by working as a professional journalist, and he brings that experience and knowledge to bear on his blogging here at Collide-a-Scape.

    And so Keith has laid it all out: He rightly points out that he and his family have to eat, so if you like what he offers, pitch in. If for whatever reason people don’t want to, he’ll have to move on to other activities that will help him make a living. He’s not forcing anyone to do anything. It’s no different from subscribing to National Geographic. If you feel it provides value that you don’t find anywhere else, you subscribe. And if you feel this blog provides value that you don’t find in other blogs, then pitch some pennies in his cup.

    I’m doing it right now: $10 in the cup. That’s the price of a few measly beers.   

  33. Alexander Harvey Says:

    Gaythia #23:
    Thanks for the link, I watched the video, it was worth my time.
    Listening to Lanier was interesting, personally I think there is a part he doesn’t quite get, regarding the economic downturn. He seems more pessimistic than he was, but I still think he be overly optimistic and just not cynical enough. On the other hand there are parts to this I definitely struggle with e.g. SL which is well within his expertise. He seems to grasp many important points that others either don’t or shy away from, e.g. that power is not so much dispersed as left lying around in convenient packets.
    Gaythia, do you know where on this Island of the Blessed would be good for an old cyber-cynic to go to fight and die?

  34. BBD Says:

    I wouldn’t want to seem ungracious, so I have contributed to the enterprise.
    My views on the evisceration of classic business models by digital media are not really relevant to Mrs K’s position, after all.
    I do hope others will see fit to follow suit ;-)

  35. Alexander Harvey Says:

    I have written about this issue before and on this blog.
    I saw something very similar happen, pre-internet, where the amateur and semi-pro musicians/DJs did not see that they were havng a corrosive effect.
    I think that Keith is in a moral bind if he cannot justify his unpaid efforts here in terms of an investment in raising his brand he risks a personal involvement in the undermining of career journalism.
    In an atmosphere where certain theorists (see an earlier KK post) view the reformation of journalism in terms of a crusade that can be couched as an accomplished fact, making a case for career journalism is deemed Canute like, protectionist, Luddite. There is a poetic bind in even writing about this issue for free.
    What can KK say to the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? Work hard and always remember that we will systematically act against you, under cutting your efforts by providing free content?
    It is certain that journalism is still changing but what is not commonly seen is that the implication for more career journalism not less. My information tells me that citizen journalism is an editorial nightmare and that for every front end journalism post lost an editorial position needs filling. That is not happening and I believe this will be telling for the new journalism as nobody, not even those responsible for disseminating the output will feel secure that anything is honest or true. Sadly it can already be argued that for a large part they simply don’t care.
    KK, you won’t find anything from me, and that may seem cruelly hypocritical. I have been to PayPal and read the T&Cs and it seems that it cannot be done in a way whereby you get some cash but do not know where it has come from. I do sponsor things when it can be anonymized or I know the people involved, neither seems to apply in this case. If you or others find that bizarre, so be it, that is the way it is. I believe that the Ebay giving scheme, and perhaps others, is anonymous but also you would have to be a non-profit to apply which would undermine the objective. There was a moment when I was sorely tempted to help you out but it did founder for the reasons given and on reflection I doubt it were wise anyway.
    If you are not being paid for your efforts here, which I value more than you might think, and you cannot look young journalists in the eye and recommend it as an investment in a personal brand that will pay off, my interpretation is clear. You should stop. Or present it not as journalism but as a personal campaign for journalism. Sorry about that. Consider whether your efforts for journalism and hence environmental issues would be better served if you spent them organizing Indie Journalism.

  36. EdG Says:

    Well Keith, as everybody knows, all you need to do is go lizard-brained and cover more inconvenient questions and Big Oil, the Planet Haters, and the AntiScience crowd will send you zillions of dollars.

    If you don’t know about this arrangement just ask Mike Mann or Chris Mooney.

    In the meantime, I’m just going to watch how your new year develops. I don’t support commentators who still label scientists with open minds (Curry) as ‘gadflies’ but perhaps that was just caused by some lingering Chinese aerosols, or something.


  37. Nullius in Verba Says:

    “I also wonder how long you’ve been reading this blog.”
    About as long as I’ve been commenting - so not long.
    “But in any case, I’m not going to spend my Saturday morning annotating this comment with all the various posts that fit your criteria.”
    I wouldn’t expect you to. And I wouldn’t want you to go to any effort on my account. But you’re right about being as good as your last game - I was judging by what I see.
    “To your point, though, I used to do more actual reporting and interviews for this blog, but it became quite a time suck.”
    Exactly the point. Amateurs and hobbyists can’t be bothered, or can’t spare the time. That’s why professionals generally have to be paid to do it.
    “Meanwhile, how about you naming some of those science bloggers that you regularly read for that extra value you defined.”
    First thoughts would be ClimateAudit, ScienceOfDoom, Jeff ID, Climate Etc., the Pielkes’, junior and senior, Lucia’s Blackboard, Bob Tisdale, Climate Resistance (which is more cultural/political and very partisan), Klimazwiebel… I don’t always agree, just as I don’t always agree with you, but a lot of work goes into them and they can reliably give food for thought.
    “Should professional photographers not get paid for their work?”
    Professional photographers should get paid if they take picture other people want, that other people do not have the time or skills to take, so that demand exceeds supply. Professional photographers should not get paid simply for being professional photographers. They definitely should not get paid simply for needing to put dinner on the table and a roof over the head.
    But I don’t think it’s bad that people take photographs, even good photographs, and put them up on the internet for free. I don’t think it’s bad if the price drops as a result. I don’t think it’s bad if the professionals have to up their game if they want to stay in business, or find something else to do.
    Please understand, I’m not saying Keith shouldn’t be paid, or doesn’t deserve it, or anything like that. If people want to pay, then good. I wish him success. It was just the bit about it being a matter of principle that I found baffling.
    Either you want to do it or you don’t. If you do, then you’re already in profit as soon as you do so, and if it makes the world a better place for everyone else then that’s makes it an even better thing; whether you think of it as Christian charity or Open Source development or doing your bit to advance mankind. Being paid for it is nice too, but I wouldn’t say it was a matter of principle that you have to be. If you don’t or you can’t afford the time, then don’t do it - unless someone else wants you to do it enough to be willing to pay you.
    I hope Keith gets enough to persuade him to stay, but if he doesn’t, then I wish him well in whatever he does instead, and I believe the fact that people are willing to pay him for that other thing and not for science blogging means that he is doing a greater public service, making more people happy and the world an even better place, by doing so. If that’s why he carried on blogging after he wanted to stop, as he suggested, then I’d say it was in everyone’s best interests that he do so. I want the best for him, and his family, and his paying customers.
    I’m not going to selfishly ask him to keep on blogging, for my sake, if it isn’t what he wants to do with his life. Blogs are plentiful.
    I’m not sure if that’s any clearer. It might be that old ‘worldview’ thing that makes it so difficult to explain.

  38. chrisl Says:

    Blogging is a bit like journalistic busking

    A very well known busker

    Good luck

  39. Gaythia Says:

    Did anyone besides Alexander Harvey read the link I gave up at #23?
    This is about all of us.  Is there really much of anything that couldn’t be done on a hobbyist level?  Who are the “they” that we expect to pay us?
    Information is power, labor was power, and we are being induced into giving that away.
    “I’m astonished at how readily a great many people I know, young people, have accepted a reduced economic prospect and limited freedoms in any substantial sense, and basically traded them for being able to screw around online. There are just a lot of people who feel that being able to get their video or their tweet seen by somebody once in a while gets them enough ego gratification that it’s okay with them to still be living with their parents in their 30s, and that’s such a strange tradeoff. And if you project that forward, obviously it does become a problem.”
    What that leads to is the world that Wells and Kurt Vonnegut and many others wrote about, where there just is enough virtual bread and circuses, just barely enough to keep the poor in check, and perhaps somehow not breeding, and they just kind of either wither away through attrition or something. Or medicine gets good enough and expensive enough that those on the wealthy side of it live and those on the other, once again through attrition, fade away.
    Another example that is quite astonishing, one that will be recognized by future historians as an extraordinary phenomenon in the 21st century, is that the aging populations are buying into their own impoverishment. There’s this strange way in which people who are older tend to be conservative, and what conservative means now is no government: “Don’t you dare support my dialysis, don’t you dare support my nursing home expenses! That reduces my liberty! I need my freedom and my options.”
    “”In the ’80s and ’90s, one of the things I liked about being in the Silicon Valley community was that we were growing the middle class. The personal computer revolution could have easily been mostly about enterprises. It could have been about just fighting IBM and getting computers on desks in big corporations or something, instead of this notion of the consumer, ordinary person having access to a computer, of a little mom and pop shop having a computer, and owning their own information. When you own information, you have power. Information is power. The personal computer gave people their own information, and it enabled a lot of lives.”

  40. Tom Fuller Says:

    Actually Keith, if you wanted to monetize your efforts here, you should consider consolidating and editing some of your work here into a book. Now that self-publishing is a viable concept, you can do it risk free and the effort required is not Herculean.

  41. Nullius in Verba Says:

    I had a look. I have to say, I didn’t get a lot out of it. It seemed an even mixture of things that are right, things that are wrong, and things I’m not sure about, so it’s difficult to tell what to conclude. He seems to misunderstand what wealth actually is, and why it’s not the same thing as money or wages, there’s a lot of stuff about the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy, and he seemed to miss the point that the information being sold is the power to give us what we want, and is only valuable to the extent that it does so. I had to laugh at the bit about the elderly conservatives voting to impoverish themselves - the point of course being that the government is doing it by paying us with our own money, and we will eventually get presented with the bill for any run-away costs they’ve run up in our name. The elderly seem to understand that point, and what might happen when we do, rather better than the government seems to.
    Still, the debate about the effects of automation on the human economy that started with the Luddites is evidently still worth having (since people still evidently misunderstand it), and there are a number of other good points about the potential risks of automation, the value of personal information, and whether we’re really going to be happy with the world we’re sleep-walking into. It’s not quite what we were promised.

  42. kdk33 Says:

    A picture is a picture is a picture.  There’s no objective measure of good.  A photographer gets paid for one reason only:  he finds someone willing to trade. 

    This can happen two ways:  1) the photographer takes the pictures he wants, then invests time and money into finding an audience - marketing, 2) the photographer first finds an audience - employer - then takes the pictures the audience wants.

    Keith is employing strategy #1 here.  He employs strategy #2 at his other forum (to which he sometimes directs us, thus mixing strategies).

    Regarding undermining paid journalism…  Workers (I mean writers) of the world unite!  A thing is worth exactly what someone is willing to pay - no more, no less - no matter how we feel about it.

    Regarding quality of information and pay or no pay writing, please see strategy #2.

  43. kdk33 Says:


    Which gets me to thinking… if Keith includes in his book comments from his ever-erudite readers, who gets copyright?

  44. Keith Kloor Says:

    #43, Interesting question from an anonymous commenter. How would I go about this for those writing under pseudonyms? But have no fear, while I appreciate Tom’s (#40) suggestion, I have no intent on mining the content of this blog for a book-and if I did, I would cannibalize my own posts.

    On that note, the purpose of this appeal is not to get compensated for the past three years of blogging, but to see if there is enough value accorded to the blog for it be compensated going forward.  

    Let me put this in some perspective. I think what I do here is completely frivolous compared to what good reporters do everyday. (I will speak to this comparison another time.) However, what I seem to have done with some success (aside from the episodic watchdogging) is to provide context and meaning for climate/environmental/science issues that are hotly debated by society. And I’ve done it in a way that draws a diversity of readers, many who find my posts engaging enough to discuss. 

    If I stopped blogging at Collide-a-Scape tomorrow, I’m proud of having created this forum. I will not complain if the judgment of the crowd is that it it is not valuable enough to support financially. 


  45. laursaurus Says:

    Ah shucks, Keith!
    Here’s a little somethin, somethin’ for the great content and conversation.

    There is a sense of community among the participants of your blog. You have a gift for blogging that doesn’t go unappreciated by your readers. This topic was politicized in the US, unlike Europe. Mediating the conversation without censorship takes a lot of effort. But you’ve managed to create an atmosphere where actual dialogue happens.

  46. Barry Woods Says:

    Why stop… keep it as a hobby, your personal space on the internet.. beholden to nobody..

    Just cut back a bit on the output..

    Once a week, twice a month, whichever takes your fancy.

  47. Tom Fuller Says:

    I have corresponded privately with a number of bloggers about this issue who have gone through the same mental struggle as our host. Starting about the time of the anniversary of Climategate, many have expressed the idea that the returns were not commensurate with the effort. If you look around the blogosphere these days, you see the results-Tobis started Planet 3.0 and shares responsibility. Romm has been subsumed under the rubric of the broader Think Progress framework. Watts is taking more time off. I quit entirely, Jeff Id has quit at least once. Life has resumed its normal priorities.

    And these priorities are more or less validated by the public-not in terms of number of hits, but in the lack of replacement blogs. If climate discussion was still hot, there’d be new blogs gaining traction by the bucketload. There aren’t. 

    That’s because this is taking on the air of an issue that is half settled, half never-to-be-settled. Which leaves little left to be said. 

  48. BBD Says:


    That’s because this is taking on the air of an issue that is half settled, half never-to-be-settled. Which leaves little left to be said.

    You’re right. The whole tedious talking shop should just pack up go. Sod the politicians - let them get on with it on their own. It’ll be fine.

  49. Tom Fuller Says:

    Hey, it’s not just the blogosphere:  

  50. Paul Kelly Says:

    I don’t understand your aversion to advertising. Journalism has always been supported by advertising. If it is good for radio, TV, newspapers and magazines, why isn’t good for your blog. I visit lot’s of blogs. Whether or not they have ads makes no difference to me. Google and Amazon have ad programs that are not at all invasive. With Amazon, you can even advertise specific books and recordings of your choosing.

  51. BBD Says:

    All the more reason to keep on buggering on (as Churchill put it).
    From the article you kindly linked (my emphasis):
    He added that there were also fewer specialists available to mend holes in the net, highlighting the case of Margot Roosevelt, a top-notch former environment reporter for the Los Angeles Times who received a layoff notice in July while working on a climate-change story in the Arctic.

  52. Keith Kloor Says:

    Paul (50),

    The aversion stems from my magazine background and wanting the blog to have a certain aesthetic look. But I can get past that if I can be persuaded that ads would make a difference. (So far, I’m not.) Some people are working at trying to persuade me otherwise. I’ll make a decision before the week is out on this.

  53. willard Says:


    I suspect you might need more than an Harley to make domestic peace.

    Or perhaps less.

    I’m on two minds regarding the overall business.

    Sometimes I sense it makes no sense.

    Other times I am quite sure of it. 

  54. willard Says:

    An interesting business model for a niche: 

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