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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