Are superstar bloggers turning online journalism into the Premier League?

A minor earthquake hit the blogosphere recently with the news that Andrew Sullivan is to move his blog The Daily Dish from the website of the Atlantic Monthly, where it’s been based since 2005, to the Daily Beast. The news caps a string of trophy hires for the Beast in recent months, including former Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz and Fortune technology reporter David Kirkpatrick. The move makes sense for Sullivan, who’s proven a savvy manager of his blog – moving from a listing Time magazine to The Atlantic just when it was beginning to carve out a strong reputation online, and now moving to the hottest property in online news – and, thanks to the Daily Beast’s merger with Newsweek, getting some old-fashioned print exposure out of it.

But it’s terrible news for The Atlantic, and it’s got me wondering: are news and magazine sites becoming too reliant on big-name bloggers?

Once upon a time, the newspaper was the brand and writers were fairly anonymous. While talented reporters and editors would get poached by other publications, of course, the changes often wouldn’t register on the public. And for reporters, this is still the way things largely work. But bloggers’ brands are largely personal. Like big-name lawyers, they have their own ‘clients’ – readers – who will follow them from publication to publication.

This is good news for the bloggers, but less so for the sites that rely on them.

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