Short panel — the pros on journalism

Scott Rosenberg of Salon, moderating with Len Apcar from the New York Times and James Taranto from the Wall Street Journal.

James: Best of the Web is a column in blog form. Not a blog—published on a schedule rather than at will. Loosely edited. Not monetized.

Len: We’re thinking about blogging. We haven’t really done anything like this before. Discusses Nicholas Kristof on the road who blogs things that he might want to correct and report on later In my mind it was an experiment between me and Nick to see how it works. It’s worked pretty well. Nick is in the business of opinion.…We argue about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but very few people have been on the ground; Nick went and did a fantastic job. …Nick is posting directly. There have been just a few times in six months where I’ve said “I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this phrasing.”

What about the ability of weblogs to bring back stories that wouldn’t go anywhere like Trent Lott? James: Josh Marshall deserves a lot of credit. Len: Before blogs there were other vehicles—trade publications, newsletters, magazines—that follow at a granular level [have] always been providing stories to bigger newspapers. None of this surprises me. I think that what’s happened is that this is now all around us. James: What’s new is that Romanesco’s site was used as a bulletin board for internal grievances. The internal workings were exposed.

Question: Nick wasn’t edited? Is that fair to other editorial page contributors? Answer: By default, editorial writers are edited—they provide 2500 words that have to be cut to 700, so that’s a negotiation.

Question: Are bloggers read in media? How much of an influence do they have? Len: Yes, not sure how much.

Doc Searls: What about making archives linkable? Dave: Before fall of 2001, it works. After, until April 2003, black hole. Negotiations with Google and Userland to allow access via specially formatted URLs.

Jay Rosen, NYU: I believe you said you were considering doing weblogs for the campaign… Why don’t you get someone from both journalism and weblogs working on it? (substantially paraphrased) Len: How many of you know The Boys on the Bus? We might do this but there are issues about disclosure, and how long before the bloggers get kicked off the bus?