A subtle box in The Times announced this morning that Executive Editor Bill Keller will go online and “answer questions in this space about the newspaper and the news.” I might have found a different phrasing: Let’s not presume that he has the answers or that the readers want to ask them. I’d prefer “discuss” or “converse” and leave open the option that he and his editors would ask the public questions to answer. But I quibble.
I will not be surprised when some of the submissions to this new feature are rather harsh and when Timesmen complain about that. The implication will be, “see what happens when the masses mass?” But remember that these people feel as if they have been shouting to a brick wall for years. Let the steam rise first and get into a conversation — as Washington Post people have been doing successfully for sometime in their regular chats — and I will bet that you’ll end up with good discussions that are quotable and even newsworthy.
Maybe you’ll enjoy interacting so much, you won’t just do it with filtered email. Maybe you’ll even blog.