BloggerCon mini-panel: NYTimes and Wall Street Journal execs talk about Blogging

Scott Rosenberg of Salon puts the blocks to WSJ Best of the Web’s James Taranto’s and NYTimes Digital editor-in-chief Len Apcar.
Next week, the WSJ will debut a paid email newsletter called “Political Diary’: they are still trying how to figure out how to make money from Opinion Journal, their free political site.
Len Apcar and NYTimes Digital is thinking about how blogs might fit with the Times; they haven’t done anything like blogging, but he has some ideas about blogging and the campaign.
Nicholas Kristoff has a blog as an adjunct to his Times columns and opinion pieces; the blog is an experiment and has minimal editing; Kristoff is the only one who can post, but producers see the copy, and Apcar occasionally reviews.
Scott Rosenberg: What if the powers that be said you could have NYTimes or WSJ-branded blogs by any staffers who wanted on?
Taranto, WSJ: The Best of the Web column became more and more of an opinion piece, like a blog, so eventually it made sense to out my name on it.
Apcar, NYT: We have a couple of hard slides to take to get to that point, but I can see it, particularly among those in the newsroom and on the op ed page who are critics, because it would naturally begin there.” Apcar keeps looking at Dallas Morning News editorial board blog to see what might be an adaption o that for the Times.
Apcar says that the NYTimes would NOT cover any internal proprietary information, such as front page make-up or reporting decisions–internal issues would remain proprietary. Adds Apcar, “You need to remember that there has always been a feed system of local newspapers and trade journals feeding information, but now it is so around us, with 24-hour chat rooms, news, talk radio, etc. that you see the relentless power of the information.”
Taranto: “You see how things have changed with the NYTimes and the Jason Blair incidents because people used the Romenesko web site to air their grievances and disclose more of the internal process.”
Jarvis: How much do you think people in the newsroom are reading weblogs, and what impact that does that have? Apcar said the medium is understood and blogs are read. “There is a fair level of information about blogs.”
Apcar’s final words: Kraus’ The Boys on the Bus is a natural for a blog…that book was done out of a Rolling Stone series for the campaign of 1972.
WHAT NO ONE IS SAYING: The odds that institutions like the NYTimes are going to anoint existing bloggers and accredit them by hiring them to write blogs is extremely slim, based on past precedent–the odds are MUCH higher that these organizations will be much more comfortable–and understandably so–when they are using authors who are both edited and who reflect the voice of the institution and are known and trusted by the institution.
Prediction: NYTimes gets into blogging, but does it in a way different than what the blogging community might expect. There is GREAT opportunity for them to do wonderful things that fit their model and exploit this new fast and flexible form.
This was a terrific short panel–thanks, guys.