The 900-pound gorilla of American journalism has entered the blogosphere just in time to write about King Kong.
New York Times has launched it’s first blog. The Carpetbagger, written by reporter David Carr, is about the Hollywood awards season. Another Times blog, about real estate, is in the works.
Deputy Managing Editor Jon Landman sent around a memo to Times staff setting out the paper’s — sensible — attitude to blogs:
… 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. …
Blogging does impose obligations. Blogs have to be updated frequently. They have to be carefully tended. There are costs; David Carr and Damon Darlin will be spending time they could be using to write newspaper articles. Their bosses have decided that’s an advantageous tradeoff. I agree.
A lot of newspapers have toyed with blogs, but some have failed to understand that they are not just a new style of writing or a new set of online publishing tools — the “special power” of blogs is heir ability to empower readers to provide instant feedback and supply additional information to the writer. If the New York Times understands that, we’re getting somewhere.