I think it’s very cool that the New York Times is starting to embrace the Weblog concept. See ombudsman Daniel Okrent’s space and the pretty tame “On the Trail” political blog they’ve started. To get the thinking behind it, this interview with NYT Web editor Len Apcar is pretty insightful. I sat next to him at BloggerCon at one point, and I asked him when the Times was going to start blogging. He said something along the lines of “I don’t know, but this is all very interesting.” He was obviously surveying the landscape. In that interview, he says:
…to be quite candid about this, I’ve looked at this kind of page as a possible template for other areas of common interest. In other words, you could take this page and build a page for Opera buffs. You could do it for theater. You could do it for any number of special interests. I wanted to learn how to do this first with political reporting. I thought it made a lot of sense. It played to The Times strengths. We have just scores, dozens, of reporters covering the campaigns. I was hoping we’d have a good lively debate, which we’ve got. So I want to learn by doing this first, with politics. And then from there I’ll step back and say, what do we think? what kind of tool is this? How do we learn from this?
Now to me, that’s a pretty provocative statement, and it says that at least he grasps the concept. He’s sticking to basically factual reporting and using the Weblog as a place where reporters can add context to the stories they write, not opinion like most blogging is. But it still takes a small step toward doing what blogs do best, and that’s getting behind a story and, hopefully, engaging readers in the conversation.
Add to that the extremely educational personal travel blog of former president Jimmy Carter who recounts his visit to Africa. Again, I know this isn’t a true “blog” in the strictest sense (more edited journal.) But the personal publishing meme is no doubt expanding.