New York Times memo on blogging

The New York Times is launching several blogs as part of its new Red Carpet entertainment awards site and, in that context, Deputy Managing Editor Jonathan Landman sent a memo to the staff about The New York Times approach to blogging. "A blog is nothing more than a piece of technology... Well use the technology our way."

Here is the full New York Times memo on blogging (via L.A. Observed):

To: The Staff From: Jon Landman

December 7, 2005

Were blogospheric.

Yesterday we launched a genuine, authentic, by-the-book New York Times blog. Its Carpetbagger, by David Carr. Its part of a new movie-awards-season web site called Red Carpet, which includes a bunch of things you wont see in the newspaper, like weekly columns by Joyce Wadler and Caryn James. Youll see a refer on todays front page, which I boldly, if ignorantly, declare to be our first-ever page-1 refer to a web-only feature. At the very least, its our first-ever page 1 refer to a blog.

Within a few days, well put up a real estate blog by Damon Darlin and others. More blogs are in the works. Even more are at the idea stage. Weve come late to blogging, obviously, though weve put toes in the water on a number of occasions, as when our movie critics sent running commentary from last years Cannes film festival.

But our new blogs are more than running commentary. Look at Carrs. Its 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.

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

Its 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.

Well use the technology our way. Our bloggers will have editors. They will observe our normal standards of fairness and care. They wont float rumors or take journalistic shortcuts. Critics and opinion columnists can have opinion blogs; reporters cant. (To quote Carr: If the Carpetbagger delved into plot or relative quality they didnt turn me loose for my refined cinematic taste flying monkeys would come out of the ceiling here at headquarters and behead him.) Well encourage readers to post their thoughts, but well screen them first to make sure the conversation is civil. Some bloggers will accuse us of violating blogospheric standards of openness and spontaneity. Thats 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. Do we put David Carr online to be witless? Um, no. Actually, we think hes pretty witty in the newspaper.

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 thats an advantageous tradeoff. I agree.

Thoughts? Bring 'em on.



1 comments about 'New York Times memo on blogging'

I'm glad to see this brave step taken by the NYT. I recently sent a response to one of Mr. Darlin's articles via email. The article was "The 6 Percent Solution: Skip Real Estate Agents"

I began the email with the statement that, as a real estate broker, I have no problem with discount brokerage. I also find no issue with sellers with no representation when an offer comes in from a Realtor through the MLS in which the discounter placed their listing.

I did, however, point out several statements made in the article that were inaccurate, in my opinion. Particularly, the article stated "Paperwork is not that hard to do if your discount broker gives you all the preprinted forms. (You can probably foist some of that work on the buyer's agent, who is really working for you anyway.) "

The points I listed in response to that statement were, in my opinion, valid and important. They included comment on his use of the word "agent" and what that status required by way of fiduciary duties to the Buyer. I really did not expect a response. Imagine my surprise when I received one. I shouldn't have been surprised when the reply from Mr. Darlin was something to the effect of "What a nice email. Wish I was from Texas." I'm not.

I really didn't get upset about the absolute dismissal of all my points without comment. It did however show, in my opinion, a condescending and arrogant attitude.

So, again I congratulate the NYT for this brave step into the blogging world, where immediate response can be made via comments like this to perceived poor fact-checking in the media.

Posted by Jim Kimmons at December 9, 2005 10:59 AM

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