New York Times Ombudsman: Is Dan Okrent a blogger?

The New York Times has just hired esteemed Timesman Dan Okrent as their first “ public ombudsman.” Job is to watch over the paper, keep it top-notch, and write and publish unedited columns on the editorial pages as Okrent sees fit. Presumably, these columns, and Dan’s general influence, will prevent embarrassing flaps like the Rick Bragg/intern incident.
So, is publishing editor-free in the New York Times similar to being a blogger?
Some bloggers hope that’s the case–
Hank Copeland at Blogads says, ‘Why hire Dan, 750 bloggers scrutinize your pages every day.”
Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine says “Dan should make himself into the Times’ own blogger. I don’t mean he should start a blog. I mean he should take on blog attitude: skeptical, wry, pestering.”
Anil Dash simply says “Okrent needs a blog.”
These are great ideas, but my own guess is that Okrent will be more the Good, Grey Gent–able to adjucate problems and weigh solutions–than he will be a hectoring factor to drive change. Friends of mine who have worked for and with him single out his steadiness and ability to persist in political situations as distinctive talents, at the same time acknowledging his wit, intelligence, and heart.
Remember, while Okrent ran Pathfinder for a while, and worked on many other new and turn-around ventures at Time, Inc., including the re-start of Life Magazine, he’s spent a helluva long time on the 34th floor–a corporate Valhalla where battling forces operate behind closed teak doors.
What Okrent could and should do: Build an informed “kitchen cabinet” of knowledgeable innovators and involve them through quarterly lunches and brainstorming sessions, presentations to staffers, etc. Broaden the world view to some ‘disruptive media’ folks, innovators, and the grassroots.
Education can be a powerful force for change, if you’re not in a big rush–and since the NY Times often prefers not to rush, this informal quorum could influence, educate and yes, even provoke a bit. The man who is at least partly responsible for introducing fantasy baseball is capable of this much, and much more, so let the games begin.