I know what a blog is

A blog is the unedited voice of a person.

The lack of editing is central, because it's one person who's responsible for every word. When you click the Publish button you should feel butterflies, at least sometimes, because there's no one to pass the buck to. If someone else wrote the headline, or did a copy edit, or even reviewed what you wrote and critiqued it before it went out, it's still writing, but it is not a blog.

I wrote that in 2003. Later, when reporters started erroneously claiming to be blogging, I tried to explain that bloggers are their sources, going directly to the readers. Blogging doesn't eliminate what reporters do, but it changes it. Now, instead of making five phone calls to find out what experts think, you can do a search, read a bunch of posts, and then write. It makes it possible for a reporter to do more thorough research, more quickly. Any source that didn't put their ideas on a blog would become more or less inaccessible to reporters.

But reporters continued to, erroneously, claim they were blogging.

Now the NY Times is shutting down half of the sites they call blogs, and this is causing some unnecessary confusion and consternation.

The Times never had blogs. It would have been wonderful if they had, but they merely used blogging software in their editorial process. Perhaps their blogs were only lightly edited by others, but they were edited. When they were writing about their expertise, and they weren't also professional reporters, there might have been a little blogging going on. But mainly they were doing what writers at the NY Times do -- reporting.

It's an important distinction because we need a word for what we do. The word we used was usurped by people who clearly felt threatened by blogging. I'm glad the Times is dropping the pretense that they were blogging. Hopefully they can exit with as little fanfare as possible, and let us continue to try to develop this art, without their interference.

One more note, blogging is under pressure for a variety of other reasons. A lot of people started doing it thinking it would make them money. Those people have exited. Facebook is giving bloggers a tough choice. You get more engagement on Facebook. But you own your words on your blog, and you create a record. I hope that at some point we can work something out with Facebook to have the best of both worlds at all times. So blogging can prosper and people can have all the engagement that Facebook can provide. A real win-win is possible here. I'm hopeful.


Update #1: The pressure on blogging.

Update #2: Farhad Manjoo who is a columnist at the Times says he mostly agrees, but that Krugman is a blogger, and I agree. He is. I don't doubt for a second that his words go straight from his keyboard to the site, and he has great expertise that is not as a reporter (he's a Nobel laureate economist). So the rule is not without exception.

Last built: Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 11:23 AM

By Dave Winer, Friday, June 27, 2014 at 8:28 AM. Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.