Maybe they want that blogging Pulitzer

David Carr has started a new blog at the NY Times devoted to the Oscars and movies. It’s good. It’s written with Carr’s elegance but not in a Timesian voice. And it links out even to the competition, reporting that EW gave Kong an A, for example.

LA Observed quoted Jan Landman’s memo to the staff about this venture into a brave new world. Jon Dube and Steve Rubel pull out one quote about blogging being just a technology but I agree with Heather Green that they took it out of context. Landman, to my eye, is defending blogging against the naysayers we still see in newsrooms. A fuller quote:

But our new blogs are more than running commentary. Look at Carr’s. It’s full of links to film publications and blogs and web sites. It encourages responses from readers and hopes to start a lively conversation. Nothing is more important to the future of our web ambitions than to engage our sophisticated readers. Blogs are one way to do it.

It’s worth spending a little time thinking about blogs, and about ourselves. Blogs make some newspaper people nuts; they’re partisan, the thinking goes, and unfair and mean-spirited and sloppy about facts. Newspapers make some bloggers nuts; they think we’re dull and slow and pompous and jealous guardians of unearned “authority.”

It’s a pretty dopey argument. Indeed, some blogs are lousy. So are some newspapers. Some blogs reject journalism. Some practice it.

The point is, a blog is nothing more than a piece of technology. It allows people to compile thoughts, connect with others and interact quickly with readers. People can use it any way they want to. It has no inherent ethical or moral quality, though it does have its own special power.

We’ll use the technology our way. Our bloggers will have editors. They will observe our normal standards of fairness and care. They won’t float rumors or take journalistic shortcuts. Critics and opinion columnists can have opinion blogs; reporters can’t. (To quote Carr: “If the Carpetbagger delved into plot or relative quality – they didn’t turn me loose for my refined cinematic taste ­ flying monkeys would come out of the ceiling here at headquarters and behead him.”) We’ll encourage readers to post their thoughts, but we’ll screen them first to make sure the conversation is civil. Some bloggers will accuse us of violating blogospheric standards of openness and spontaneity. That’s life in the big city.

We will use blogs to convey information, sometimes in conventional ways, sometimes not-so. Our notions of journalistic responsibility are perfectly compatible with spirited fun.

They’re using it their way. I use it my way. Cue Sinatra.

I think it’s a good memo and a good start. I still want to see reporters blog — and, yes, even have opinions. But one revolution at a time. [Full disclosure: I consult for The Times Company.]

  • http://www.theonetruebix.com/ The One True b!X

    Well, the City Hall reporters for The Oregonian are blogging, and while there haven’t been opinions on the level of “I’m voting for X” they’ve provided their fair share of bloggy snarkiness.

  • http://beltwayblogroll.nationaljournal.com Danny Glover

    The quote that is getting the most attention definitely was taken out of context. The commentators totally ignored Landman’s significant acknowledgement that blogs have “special power.” That realization no doubt prompted the Times to take the blogging plunge.

    You can get my full analysis, and what it may mean for the Times in the political and policy arena, at NationalJournal.com’s Beltway Blogroll.

  • http://www.phillyfuture.org Karl

    Just to remind you of three terrific ones from our town:

    Daniel Rubin at the Inquirer

    Will Bunch at the Daily News

    Daniel McQuade at the Philadelphia Weekly

    Lots of personal opinion, and style. The three of them rock.