Recently, the New York Times announced it was discontinuing its City Room blog. The blog was a creature of the newspaper’s Metro department and a place for tidbits that might not otherwise make the newspaper. All that color made it feel very different from the gray lady of American publishing. It may feel a bit of a dinosaur today, but the blog represented a big step forward in the digital space when it debuted in 2007.
It’s funny and a bit daunting to think of the speed at which things come and go these days. A blog that was launched eight years ago simply ran its course, but in so doing, it taught a legacy media organization an awful lot about the tone, speed and quirkiness of successful publishing online.
“If it were 100 years ago, this would have lasted for 50 years, but the way technology changes and the way reader nature changes every five years now, its lifespan was just so much shorter,” New York Times metro editor Wendell Jamieson told Joseph Lichterman in a provocative piece written for Nieman Labs. (The piece itself is very interesting because it is presented as a sort of oral history of the project from the perspective of many players in City Room. You should check it out for its format if nothing else.)
I was really struck by two things. First, many of the early adopters at the Times have gone on to really interesting things both in legacy media and in other forms of publishing. Take Jennifer 8 Lee. She was one of the best-known young voices at The Times until relatively recently and she was a contributor to City Room. Today, she is CEO of Plympton, which is an online book-publishing platform that sends serialized fiction to digital devices, among other things. Here’s what she says in Lichterman’s piece. … Read the rest of this entry »