Earlier this month, we took a look at the new blogging efforts of the WSJ. Today, we focus on the NYT’s attempts.
Not surprisingly, there’s quite a few similar issues when two large mainstream media firms take a stab at blogging. The Times’ gets a number of things wrong, but they also get a few things right.
Like the WSJ’s blogs, I am not really sure what their corporate goal is with these other than "Hey, let’s check out this internet thingie!" With the Times, this is especially true, in light of their hard-to-understand decision behind Times Select (I agree with Maoxian as to why this is bad corporate policy). For more on this subject, see the Why blog? discussion at the post on WSJ blogging.
The lack of print support for the NYT blogs is obvious. The Journal at least has a blurb on the front page (What’s On-Line), a bigger sponsored advert for online on page A6, and visible links on WSJ.com home page for their Law Blog and MarketBeat. There are one or two links on the NYT.com’s main page, but they’re somewhat buried in the margin (related stories in the Times do have links too). The Times should step up print support.
Neither the NYT nor the WSJ has a blog landing page — and they both should.
The biggest sin of both publications is not using their mighty megaphones to promote their own blogs. Whether this is a function of internal dissent, half hearted management support, or just fear is anyone’s guess. I get the sense that not everyone is fully on board both of these corporate blogging efforts. Somebody should give them a book by Schumpeter — although in all fairness "Creative Destruction" is much easier in theory than in reality.
Lets look at what the NYT gets right:
To begin with, they very much have a blog look and feel — more so than the Journal. The layout and design all politely announce "blog," while retaining a very familiar NYTimes design scheme. Some are group blogs (Walk Through, Dealbook) while others definitely feel more like individual blogs (The Pour, Diner’s Journal) even though they have more than one contributor.
Also worth noting: Heavy integration into related NYT sections, as well as other non-Times resources. For example, The Walk-Through, the NYT Real Estate blog, links to the latest Real Estate Articles From The Times; Across the top of the page are seven Tabs for related issues (Real Estate Home, Property Search, Communities, Mortgage & Services, Luxury & Vacation, Your Home, and Commercial). A list of real estate related blog links is on the right margin.
The Walk-Through seems to be the most fully realized of the Time’s blogs; Whether that ‘s an accident of the hot real estate market or by design is unknown.
The Time’s Business blog, Dealbook, is also fairly developed. (note: I met DealBook’s editor Andrew Sorkin in the greenroom of CNBC last week, and he seems like a nice guy).
DealBook also has a tabbed design. It has less of a blog flavor,
however, and is a bit stiff and formal; perhaps a function of its
subject matter. While its posts occasionally reference non-NYT sources
— there is much less integration into the blogosphere, i.e., there is
no blogroll or third party link resources.
The rest of the NYT blogs are quite new, and likely need some time to develop their voice(s).
Noticeably absent for the Times offerings: Theater, Art, Film, Travel, even Style — all very much NYT specialties. And Metropolitan Diary is tailor made to be a blog, much like Dow Jones Market Talk. Diary must get a bazillion submissions a month — how this is not one of the top 100 blogs already is beyond my ken.
Music is subject that the Times hardly devotes space to, so I do not know if it makes sense for them to blog on it.
I also am hard pressed to fully get the temporary academy awards blog Carpetbagger. These things take time to develop a following, and by the time anyone noticed it, it became fallow — and has since stopped publishing. Instead of leaving it a brownfield, consider making it a permanent entertainment blog, and cover all the awards within it as they come up each year.
Somewhat less noticeably absent are broader areas: Automobiles, Science, Technology, Sports. Of these 4, Science & Tech could probably be a decent blog — between the two sections of the dead tree edition, there’s plenty of good material. (To see how a mainstream media outlet does a tech blog correctly, check out Knight Ridder’s San Jose Mercury News "Good Morning Silicon Valley.")
Lastly, how about a NYT blog on Media and Journalism? Instead of merely duplicating what is ordinarily covered in the Times, why not focus your considerable journalistic firepower on your own industry? I like learning about stuff that doesn’t become stories, about editorial discussions, and how columns are researched and developed, and odd things, like why David Brooks writes for the Times. The Paper of Record running a blog on Journalism issues is something I bet that many people would find to be extraordinarily fascinating.
I suspect that both the WSJ and the NYT can learn a bit about blogging from the other. They should steal the best ideas from one another’s efforts . . .
Note: Jon Landman’s original NYT memo on blogging is here.
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