The New York Times has shut down the India Ink blog. When it was launched in September 2011, the newspaper called it its “first-ever country-specific site for news, information, culture and conversation.” Its shutdown follows the closure of The Lede blog in May. The New York Times blog I miss most is The Booming blog which was targeted at baby boomers. It appeared for the last time on February 4.
Some blogs got “very, very little traffic, and they required an enormous amount of resources, because a blog is an animal that is always famished,” said Ian Fisher, an assistant managing editor, explaining the decision to cut down on blogs. While popular blogs like Bits and DealBook will remain, others will be shut down or absorbed in other sections of the paper.
The Times will continue to provide “bloggy content with a more conversational tone,” but it will appear throughout the paper’s website, rather than in specific locations called blogs.
“We want to continue this kind of journalism without the manufactured shell of a blog, with its constant pressure to fill it up,” said Fisher.
“Blogs got very trendy about seven or eight years ago as a new way of storytelling,” he added. “To be successful, they require voice and constant feeding.”
That is true.
Blogging is under pressure for a variety of reasons, says pioneer blogger Dave Winer. “A lot of people started doing it thinking it would make them money. Those people have exited. Facebook is giving bloggers a tough choice. You get more engagement on Facebook. But you own your words on your blog, and you create a record.”
[pullquote]A blog is the unedited voice of a person, says blogging pioneer Dave Winer.[/pullquote]
What’s a blog
Winer insisted in the same post last month on his blog, Scripting News:
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.
He explained the difference between blogging and reporting:
A blog is the unedited voice of a person.
The lack of editing is central, because it’s one person who’s responsible for every word. When you click the Publish button you should feel butterflies, at least sometimes, because there’s no one to pass the buck to. If someone else wrote the headline, or did a copy edit, or even reviewed what you wrote and critiqued it before it went out, it’s still writing, but it is not a blog.
Blogging doesn’t eliminate what reporters do, but it changes it. Now, instead of making five phone calls to find out what experts think, you can do a search, read a bunch of posts, and then write. It makes it possible for a reporter to do more thorough research, more quickly.
I love blogs, but people are more likely to check Facebook than blogs. That’s why blogs have Facebook pages to attract more readers. Winer acknowledges the importance of social media. He writes:
I hope that at some point we can work something out with Facebook to have the best of both worlds at all times. So blogging can prosper and people can have all the engagement that Facebook can provide.