‘Almost half’ of the NYT’s blogs will close or merge

A lot of the advantages blogs offer will remain at the New York Times, Assistant Managing Editor Ian Fisher told Poynter in a phone call: “We’re going to continue to provide bloggy content with a more conversational tone,” he said. “We’re just not going to do them as much in standard reverse-chronological blogs.”

The Times is ending its blog The Lede, Poynter reported earlier Wednesday. That’s about the 10th blog the news organization has shuttered, Fisher said. And more will come. The Times has been “moving away from blogs over the past year and a half,” spokesperson Eileen Murphy told me.

Fisher declined to name which blogs would get the hook next, but he said, “There’s little chance that our marquee blogs, ones like DealBook, Well, Bits, will be going anywhere anytime soon.”

Of the paper’s current blogs, though, “Almost half of them will be gone as a blog or will have merged into something else.” (The Times’ opinion shop has no plans to thin out its blogs, Murphy said.)

There are a lot of reasons for the move. The Times’ blogging software doesn’t work well with its redesigned article pages. And a lot of the blogs “were duplicative,” Fisher said: “It was very hard to understand the difference between some of the general sections and the blogs themselves.”

Some blogs are quite popular, but others “got very, very little traffic, and they required an enormous amount of resources, because a blog is an animal that is always famished.” Fisher said he thinks the “quality of our items will go up now, now that readers don’t expect us to be filling the artificial container of a blog.”

Another issue: “Very few people went to the blog landing pages,” Fisher said. Most enter sideways, through a shared link or a link off the Times’ homepage.

The Times’ leaked innovation report said “our blog platforms helped train an entire generation of Times reporters and editors to write for the web,” something Fisher said is “absolutely true.”

But the Web they trained for is not necessarily the same place. Something else Fisher says he’s rethought: The necessity to brand blogs. “I’m actually a believer for the most part that we don’t need to be naming things,” Fisher said. “I think at this point readers are way more sophisticated than we give them credit for.” In other words, they don’t need a flashing neon sign.

There’s no timetable for the blogpocalypse: “We’re very busy here, obviously, and we’re doing it as it seems to make sense,” he said. Lede Editor Robert Mackey has been “a pioneer of this kind of journalism,” but since he moved to the foreign desk, “it didn’t make sense for The Lede to be this everything-but-foreign kind of thing,” Fisher said.

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  • John Williams

    This makes sense–since the NYT has been moving blog content to its news pages for the last 30 years. It’s a tabloid with a fancy front page.

  • lunarcamelco

    “We’re going to continue to provide bloggy content with a more conversational tone” — I dearly wish they wouldn’t. It makes me cringe hard to see writers with seemingly no aptitude for that style gurning day in and day out, to the point it detracts from their credibility. Can they not see how poorly their output compares to good blogging? I think it’s badly out of touch, too. As a reader I don’t ever go to the Times seeking banter. There’s something terribly craven about adult professionals who ought to know better trying so hard to sound like anyone but themselves.

  • Tom_Mallory

    This makes good sense. Why have a Green blog and an Environment page, with the latter just running the stories done for the legacy product?
    Readers never really grasped that distinction, they are more interested in the topics than whether it they are reading a blog or a section. (Did anyone ever say, “I am going to read a blog now. Now I am going to read from a section.”)
    Also, I think, having separate blogs tended to hold us back by enabling journalists to stick to traditional formats on their regular topic pages — ie 25-inch narratives, anything else, or anything short and immediate, goes in the blogs — instead of experimenting with varying tones and story forms on the sections dedicated to those topics.

    Besides, having to come up with catchy yet clear names for blogs was a super tiresome and pointless exercise.

  • http://gohlkusmaximus.com/ gohlkusmaximus

    Not really, no.

  • Gary Schwitzer

    Coincidentally, I blogged earlier today about their Well blog, and how it sometimes seems to lose its focus. Putting basic science (mouse study) news on a personal health/wellness blog. http://www.healthnewsreview.org/2014/06/readers-react-to-mouse-fitness-study-on-ny-times-well-blog-and-i-agree/. Earlier this week I praised an entry on their New Old Age blog. http://www.healthnewsreview.org/2014/06/important-story-on-nyt-blog-when-advance-directives-are-ignored/. At the very least, it seems that improved editorial oversight of the blogs is in order.

  • Egg Man

    i will bet artsbeat gets the shaft

  • Egg Man

    ”blogapocalypse” sounds better rather than blogpocalypse. no?

  • http://sterlingpr.com/ kawika

    Great line, that. “A blog is an animal that is always famished.”