Journalism circles have accorded a great deal of attention to the decision by the New York Times to fold a bunch of its blogs. Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon reported the news that the “blogpocalypse” will trim the field of 60 Times blogs by almost half, with “marquee” destinations such as DealBook, Well and Bits surviving the immediate purge. Mathew Ingram wondered whether the newspaper would lose a whole lot of webbiness with the move. On her blog, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan this afternoon addressed the blog folding. Dave Winer, a blogging pioneer, wrote:
The Times never had blogs. It would have been wonderful if they had, but they merely used blogging software in their editorial process. Perhaps their blogs were only lightly edited by others, but they were edited. When they were writing about their expertise, and they weren’t also professional reporters, there might have been a little blogging going on. But mainly they were doing what writers at the NY Times do — reporting.
Maybe the best explanation for the New York Times’s infertile blogging soil comes from the pages of the New York Times itself. Back when Jill Abramson was fired as the paper’s executive editor, media critic David Carr used these words to sum up the place’s culture:
To the extent that The New York Times does anything remarkable, it emerges from collaboration and shared enterprise. It’s worth remembering that its legacy begets an excellence that surpasses the particulars of who produces it.
And to the extent that an organization produces good blogs, they emerge from isolation and lonely enterprise.