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Blogs come and go at The New York Times — and at some law firms

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As reported by Poynters’ Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) The New York Times announced last week that half of their blogs will be eliminated or merge into other blogs.

Why?

  • We’re just not going to do content in reverse chronological order.
  • We’re not sure we like unique brands, as opposed to the global company brand.
  • Our blogging software doesn’t work well with our website software.
  • We couldn’t tell the difference between the content at some of the blogs and articles on our news site.
  • Few people entered our blog pages through a blog’s landing page. Most entered through shared links.

Wow. Sounds an awful like some law firms who eliminate off the website blogs and incorporate them into their website’s content management system. Most will still call them blogs inside their website.

Much like the New York Times, law firms do it for expediency, branding, lack of traffic control, and ignorance.

Yes, ignorance.

As technologist and blog pioneer, Dave Winer (@davewiner), blogged last week on the Times announcement.

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.

Newspapers — and many law firms — don’t blog. They use blog software to report on news and legal updates, in the case of firms, in a more timely fashion than writing articles. It’s just articles. More often.

What we do as bloggers is different than report and write articles. We converse. We listen to what others are writing. We share what others wrote. We engage. We collaborate. We learn. We advance knowledge.

In the case of lawyers, we build reputations and relationships – the lifeblood of business development and a long successful career.

Per Winer.

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.

It would have been wonderful if the Times blogged. Imagine their reporters, in addition to their reporting, engaging other bloggers by following niche bloggers, not as a source for a story, but to quote and engage. A free flowing discussion that could begin intra-blog and continue in comments.

Readers would develop trust in and an intimate relationship with the reporters. The reporters would become part of the community (locale or niche) they report on.

More followers, more readers, and more folks sharing both blog posts and the reporters’ news stories. Seems like a recipe for success, revenue wise even.

But shucks, let’s go for one web content system, expediency, one common mothership brand, and web traffic control. And in making this decision let’s be guided by people who wouldn’t know a blog if it hit them in the face.

Crazy story, but it is one being played out in a good number of law firms.

The result will be loss of intimacy with clients, prospective clients, referral sources, reporters, influential bloggers, and the niche community lawyers and law firms are looking to engage.

The greater loss will be loss of business, lawyers looking to work at firms who understand social media, and looking like you’re out of touch with how business development is conducted today.

Image courtesy of Flickr by miheco

  • John Grimley

    the law seems to operate in two parallel universes. those active on social media and blogging and those not. more often than not those active on social are aware of many trends and those shaping the trends in the sector. those not active on social tend not to be. are these two worlds mutually exclusive? does being aware of trends and trendmakers help a lawyer in his or her career? I obviously think it does. But it does require a massive time and effort commitment – beyond the regular requirements of the paying work. I don’t mind as I enjoy it. But some lawyers understandably are not so interested due to the time commitment and effort. And I believe they don’t believe it’s worth it. Sometimes I wonder if they’re right.

    • http://kevin.lexblog.com/ Kevin OKeefe

      Disagree on time commitment, John. Lawyers who are blogging in an effective way are building relationships and a word of mouth reputation far faster than those who have chosen not to. If you are not committed to growing your business and your name, that’s another thing altogether – you just find someone else yo put your kids through college and support your family.

  • John Grimley

    I agree with you Kevin. But I think most lawyers don’t agree as they believe rightly or wrongly, that in person networking is best. I’m not sure why this is – except to say I think the concept of what blogs can do hasn’t fully filtered into the profession sufficiently to have become a must-do vs an oddity. I am a bit surprised it (blogging for lawyers) has not caught on more.