Blogging Times

Blogging Times
: If I were editor Len Apcar or president Martin Nisenholtz or NY Times Public Editor Dan Okrent, I’d feel like the only atheist in Alabama: bait for every evangelist in sight. We bloggers are going after them with religious fervor, trying to get the Times to blog, trying to convert them to the Church of Blog (what are we, Bloggists?).

I’ve personally gone after all three of them. That might seem odd; you’d think I’d want to keep this living-in-two-faiths, big-media/nanomedia schizo thing to myself and a small fraternity of fellow religionists. But no, like any evangelist, I subscribe to the view: the more the merrier. Once The Times blogs, we won’t have to explain what blogging is anymore; we won’t have to put up with conference-haunting journalists dismissing this phenom as a fad; we’ll all get more readers and more to read. Once The Times blogs, everyone will. And no, that won’t coopt the form; that will explode the form. That will be good for blogging. And what’s good for blogging is good for the citizens.

(I’m just a Populist in the temple of the Bloggists, you see.)

: Now Jay Rosen goes after Okrent to start a blog as the perfect form for his ombudsmanian duties. Rosen’s right: A weblog lets Okrent note and respond to (or not respond to) criticism and comment about the Times: “The weblog becomes the place where voices from the reading public, and voices from the editorial staff, are placed artfully into conversation by the presiding voice of the editor.” I can see that the blog also presents a few issues for someone in that position, for every word will be dissected (a frightening prospect in a medium of such immediacy). Weblogs are a personal medium with a personal voice and that needs to be squared with speaking for an institution (and an industry). But I agree with Jay: Weblogs are a good way to meet the public editor’s and The Times’ goals. Weblogs are also the right voice for a public editor, as I advised here. And Okrent would be an awesome weblogger because he’s damned smart, has a great voice, and lives in interesting Times.

: A prediction: I’ll bet you’ll be seeing weblogs from The Times sooner than you think….

  • Len Apcar came to Bloggercon with an open mind, eager to learn about weblogs, and he seemed to leave with a strong interest in them. Martin Nisenholtz spent a generous amount of time on the phone with me as I prepared for that conference. My guess is we’ll see some NYT blogs — and when it happens, I think it will be fair to give the folks there some credit: we’ve been preaching to them, but they have been doing some Bible-study on their own.

  • Not to divert too soon, but I think “ombudsmen” come sort of from the unresponsive gov’t side. The gov’t should have folk blogging, too. And prolly will.
    I’d guess that some HS seniors wanting to get into Harvard or Stanford will be submitting their blogs as additional admission support — and some will get in (maybe blogging won’t be a big factor, but…). And THEN there will be a HS explosion of blogging.
    By the time such graduate, they’ll be expecting a LOT more interactive service from all their suppliers, especially gov’t.
    Wouldn’t it be better if EVERY World Bank project included a requirement to report, at least every week, progress? Just knowing that others can watch increases responsible behavior (maybe it’s too hard?).

  • ….a moment with Easycure

    Jeff has some inside info on when that’s going to happen…..don’t you Jeff?

  • jonhouston

    Jesus, I fear the day when the NYT starts to blog– another thing to read out of duty. I can barely get through their six sections a day as it is.
    OTOH, if David Brooks and, say, Guy Trebay start blogging, I’ll read em for pleasure. Wanna bet how likely THAT is??

  • Staci Kramer already has a blog, as Apcar noted at ONA. He challenged attendees to find the blog on their own. The answer: Kristof Responds, “the Op-Ed columnist addresses reader e-mail and gives the story behind the column.” It started in March.

  • So NYT will have reverse-chronological, lite-edited, almost-real-time, time-stamped online news. Does this mean NYT is “blogging?”
    I’ll bet $20 that each new NYT blog will omit at least five out of the following eight blog characteristics: strong opinions, a sprinkle of personal details from the blogger’s life, a blogroll, an independent traffic counter, a unique domain name, the blogger’s photo, some snark and lots of links to other blogs and news sources.
    Unfortunately, these are the ingredients that give blogs ten times more readers per keystroke than conventional journalism. Without the individualistic impulse that makes blogging great, NYT’s blogs will be Frankensteins… all the meat but none of the spirit.
    First person to e-mail me (henry at gets the bet.

  • button

    I can’t let henry’s remarks pass without comment.
    I get the feeling which I can’t shake off that one of the most crucial reasons is: they have a calcified policy over there not to send readers away from their organization to other websites, ie: HYPERLINKS.
    This, I believe is the crucial lynchpin in their recalcitrant refusal to incorporate this approach.

  • Zipper

    NYT blog with comments? Not likely. Comments will really shatter the ego’s and point out the stupidity of some “professional” journalists they employ.