Saturday, October 04, 2003

BloggerCon 2003 V

Interview with a Blogger: Len Apcar, Scott Rosenberg, and James Taranto

Len Apcar is editor in chief of the New York Times's Web site. Scott Rosenberg works for Salon. James Taranto writes the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web column. Here is a rough transcript of their discussion:

Rosenberg: James, do you consider Best of the Web a blog?

Taranto: I describe it as a column in blog form. Rather than publish it at will as Glenn Reynolds does, I publish it once a day whenever I'm done. It's edgier than the typical newspaper piece, and in many ways, it's very much like a log.

Rosenberg: It sounds like it's close enough to a blog. Is it edited by anyone?

Taranto: I write the thing. I have an editorial assistant who helps me out. I post it to the site so it's not visible yet. I call an editor. If there's any institutional sensitivity, my superiors will ask to see a specific item, but in most cases, I make the final call.

Rosenberg: How do the people you report to feel about the whole thing?

Taranto: They seem to like it. I know my boss reads it every day.

Rosenberg: Len, New York Times Weblogs. Is there anything going on like that right now?

Apcar: I came here to get a sense of how we might go about this, be true to what we do, and still be something different online. We haven't done anything like this, but there are a couple of things I'd like to try online during the campaign. There's this opinion that editors are thought police. That's not true in thoughtful journalism, and it's not true at the Times.

Rosenberg: There's a feeling that Weblogs are fundamental different from traditional journalism and that it's changing that world. You told us there's already a blog at the New York Times. Nick Kristof is someone who's had a long and distinguished career at the Times. This is someone who clearly is going to be doing work that you don't have to worry about in the same way you might if you gave this tool to someone else.

Apcar: That being said, people make mistakes. If you read Kristof's blog, Kristof Responds, he corrects things he gets wrong. We're comfortable with that. I'd rather he correct it than ignore it.

Rosenberg: Is that reflected on the formal corrections page in the Times?

Apcar: No. Usually, columnists will correct mistakes in their columns. The correction area is the newsroom's. Also, I don't think we're ready to give over a blog to proprietary information about our editorial process and how, say, a headline is written throughout the day. Do we share this with journalism schools and visitors? Sure. But there's not a whole lot of argument debate or quantitative debate going on while choosing five or six headlines for the front page. We're not comfortable discussing internal discussions.

No comments: