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February 21, 2005



If they use scoop (or a similar system) and promote monitors from within the community, it would be self-regulating to some degree.

I agree - I used to spend time on the NYTimes comments boards, and left because it was a waste of energy.

Another thing the Times should do is stop charging for its older material.

If they want to compete with, supplant, or interact with the online community in any meaningful sense other than as a perennial whipping boy/girl for both Left and Right, then they need to get their acts in gear and join the rest of us in the 21st century.


Well, it's a little slow, but it's good to see them thinking in the right direction. My dad works as a printshop manager for a multi-billion dollar media corporation in the southern United States, and his job is to oversee production of a portion of one of the largest circulation newspapers in the country (not the Times).

The bottom line is that his employers have already seen the writing on the wall for the print media as a whole and are beginning a wholesale reduction of all production staff. At the same time, they are making a hugely expensive foray into online technology that by their own admission will soon make their print newspapers all but obsolete. By their own estimates, the production of real-paper newspapers will cease to be profitable within less than 10 years, and completely unfeasable not long after.

This doesn't bode well for the NYTimes - if they don't manifest a major shift in both attitude and technology soon, they will find themselves crushed in the competitive world of the internet and the blogosphere. I really can't see the upper management there picking up a copy of Blog to help save them, either.

Visit www.sociallyconservative.com!


Picking up a copy of Blog won't save anyone but Hugh Hewitt...

I think reading Barabasi's "Links: The New Science of Networks" Check it out would be a whole lot more fruitful.


You obviously don't read the Ny Times Opinion forums. They monitor only for profanity, not at all for content or staying on topic. In short, they are a waste of space.

So a readers comments page would take a fair amount of editing at first to screen out a high volume of verbal excrement. But the storage space and bandwidth they are currently using could be much better utilized if management saw the benefit in doing it. There is no reason that it could not be one of the highest quality discussion boards in the world.

Ronald Coleman

Too good of an idea. By all the evidence, Okrent is acting in good faith, but is on a short leash. The Times is not going to let him respond and comment in real time, not in their name. Bloggers are, by and large, free agents. Dan Okrent isn't one.

Bill Peschel

Perhaps they should look at the Straight Dope's forums. They're moderated by volunteers, and they're pretty good at keeping forums from devolving into flame wars (except in the BBQ Pit, where flame threads are permissible).

That could be a model for the NYTimes; it could also be a money maker, since the Straight Dope charges for the right to post, but not to read.


Further to this point, there's some interesting commentary on Okrent's column with regard to what Keller recently said about blogs, here: www.vengefulzhid.blogspot.com



Frankly I view writing anything to the NYT, particularly the Ombudsman, to be a complete waste of effort. Which is why, when writing emails of outrage over whatever is the latest nonsense, I only use single word sentences.

It get's the point across and I don't waste time on emails that won't accomplish anything save venting my spleen.


What a great suggestion: open up the NYTimes to reader scrutiny.

Of course, it will not happen.

Keller, "Pinch" et al. would shut it down within 10 days because of all the hypocrisy it would expose at the NYTimes.

Consider the NYTimes treatment of Linda Tripp: leper. This was becauise she recorded Monica Lewinsky.

Consider its treatment of Douglas Wead: saint. This was because he recorded George Bush 7-8 years ago.

This is news? No. Can you spell it: H Y P O C R I S Y.

Keller in his Columbia speech showed himself to be in full King Canute mode: order the waves to retreat!

My prediction: still lower NYTimes circulation and lower subscriptions, in spite of saturation advertisment bombing in the NYC area. (It is nearly impossible to turn on a TV without seeing a half dozen fresh, ethnically diverse faces extoling the virtues of sorting through three pounds of newsprint each day.)

Keller and his crew do not know that they are in a tar pit.

Cecil Turner

"Well, let's start with corrections and controversies."

Yes, that's the nub. The MSM can't seem to figure out that you're inherently more likely to find experts on any particular subject by canvassing a few million bloggers. No matter how distinguished a group of Columbia School of Journalism graduates you may have in your newsroom, they can only be expert in so many areas. (And on some subjects--e.g., military issues--the journalists are so consistently clueless their ignorance appears willful.)

Blogs are kicking big media's butt by fact-checking. And, increasingly, by keeping the spotlight on media screwups until the news outlet in question has to admit they're wrong. An on-line letters section isn't going to fix that problem, unless the feedback mechanism results in actual corrections to those stories. And that is going to require a very basic change in the way they do business.


Your making a common mistake. The times doesn't see itself as a producer and its readers as consumers.

The news isn't the product, the readers are. Ad revenue is dependant on number of readers, not quality of news. The times sells its readers to advertisers, its not in business to sell news to the readers. In the short run quality doesn't matter. They're just beginning to see the long run.

One needs to understand this to understand the msm. Bloggers and news producers aren't used to thinking this way, but I bet that editors and management are.


The news isn't the product, the readers are. Ad revenue is dependant on number of readers, not quality of news.

A depressingly good point.

Cecil Turner

The long run, if ignored for long enough, will become the short run. Sooner or later the Times will figure out that they're losing their readers/consumers/product and modify their behavior. Until then, their self-destructive tendencies are instructive (and perhaps will provide paleontologists with new insight into how species become extinct).

Joe Mealyus

Then again, why does the NYT necessarily have to do anything? Maybe the solution will happen without their taking any action - I'm not certain how, but notice that sites like Smartertimes and JOM itself have already led to a more-engaged readership - you don't have to read (or in my case occasionally wander across) Krugman or Rich and shake your fist at the injustice of the word, in futility and isolation. You can go to a blog and become connected/soothed by a community of articulate, like-minded souls who, among other things, make it easy to keep up with the latest NYT absurdities.

In fact I have become much more aware of/interested in NYT content simply because of reading blogs, many of which happen to have interesting things to say about NYT content. I'm not sure I see any benefit to me of the likes of Rich or Dowd becoming more connected with their readers, since I regard them as hopeless cases. What would be the point?

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