Five years after blogging went mainstream and more than seven years after the WSJ’s editorial page launched Best of the Web Today, the Grey Lady is finally dipping its toe into the editorial blogosphere. If you saw this news story without a date on it, what are the chances that you’d guess it came out at the very tail end of 2009?
NEW YORK The New York Times is planning to launch a new "Instant Op-Ed" next month that will allow the paper’s Web site to post immediate expert viewpoints on breaking news, according to Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal.
"Our Op-Ed now is very rapid response, but it is at the most the next day," said Rosenthal. "We are looking at a way to take advantage of the expandability of the Internet, the back and forth of it and the instantaneous nature of the Internet."
I’m old enough to remember when a next-day editorial could be considered "very rapid response", but the readers who will make or break the future of the NYT are not.
In a way, this is a little bit heartening. The NYT newsroom has successfully embraced the web to a degree that few newspapers can match (and has many excellent blogs of its own), and the NYT homepage is my favorite one-stop shop for a quick news hit on the web. The fact that the op-ed side of things has been so blissfully removed from the online revolution for so long does go to show how independent it really is. And the world needs late adopters as well as their early brethren.
But if I were Rosenthal, I would just do this, rather than make a song-and-dance about launching something which is clearly years behind the curve. Maybe it will take off, maybe it won’t — my guess is that if this gets lots of links from the nytimes.com homepage, it probably will. But don’t set yourself up for needless criticism by implying that you’re going to have a polished final product before the inauguration. These things always take time to evolve and grow into some kind of steady state.