Why The New York Times Should Stop Using The Term 'Newspaper'

from the bad-advice dept

I'm probably biased since our blog is our primary communications vehicle here at Techdirt, but I thought Mark Cuban's suggestion that mainstream media outlets like the New York Times should shun the word "blog" to describe their work was pretty silly. Cuban thinks mainstream media outlets should make up a term like "RealTime Reporting" to describe their blog-like products. The Times's Saul Hansell makes the essential point: "blog" describes a medium, like "column" or "newsletter." Calling something a blog doesn't imply anything about its level of quality. To the contrary, one of the advantages of blogs is that people can subscribe to them on an individual basis. This allows them to make fine distinctions. Not only are readers perfectly capable of distinguishing between the New York Times blogs and 15-year-old girls on LiveJournal, but readers will also learn to distinguish among the blogs on the Times itself. If some of the Times's blogs are brilliant and the others are mediocre, readers will figure that out and the best blogs will get more traffic over time. Another way to illustrate how silly Cuban's line of reasoning is is to put the shoe on the other foot. The New York Times company publishes a "newspaper." There are thousands and thousands of bad "newspapers" out there, from the National Enquirer to those free weekly papers that get tossed in peoples' front yards. So by Cuban's logic, the Times should avoid the word "newspaper" in describing its product to avoid associating itself with the riff-raff. Perhaps it should begin describing it as "PaperBased Reporting" instead.

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Filed Under: blogs, mark cuban, newspapers


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2008 @ 11:21am

    Are you stupid or something?

    Because you sure act like one!!

    In most cases reading newspapers makes real sense. News collected and edited by professionals. All blogs can do is raise a ignored issue and let the media correct itself.

    Any day I would trust NYT than any of the blogs!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2008 @ 11:23am

    I might go further and say that in shunning the term "Blog" these companies would be alienating their reader-base even more than they already do. Blogs as a medium are widely accepted and, on an individual basis, highly-regarded. "RealTime Reporting" just seems like a rather pretentious attempt to claim that they're somehow 'better' than all the other blogs out there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Sam, 17 Mar 2008 @ 11:23am

    New Your Times

    If the "New York Times" is a legitimate newspaper then the "National Enquirer" and the "Globe" are Pulitzer quality journalistic endeavors. The NYT is notorious for running fake and doctored pictures and made up "news" stories.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Oscar Jimenez, 17 Mar 2008 @ 11:58am

    New York Times

    If the word blog doesn not denote "quality" as indicated, then it should fit the New York Times. This "blog" is totally devoid of quality, fairness and objectivity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    jLl, 17 Mar 2008 @ 12:06pm

    Re: Are you stupid or something?

    Anonymous or not, I think you countered your own point. In ridiculing Tim, you put yourself out as a imbecile. Or, maybe just ignorant.

    Your argument is based on the simple misunderstanding that "blog" means "unprofessional." Now, in most cases, this is the fact. But, there are a lot of groups that take blogging professionally and cover legitimate topics that are as far from the unprofessional, online journal blogs that most think of.

    The simple fact that you're reading Techdirt, and then try shoving in their faces that they're not handling it professionally, makes you the idiot. Or, the clueless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Maybe I'm just too old, but...

    ...blog to me denotes more of an opinion piece than an thoroughly researched and validated source of news.

    I guess "blog == editorial" to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    jonnyq, 17 Mar 2008 @ 12:43pm

    I frankly wasn't paying attention to Mark Cuban whenever he did what he did to get money from the Internets. I was a Dallas Mavs fan and thought it was pretty cool that the owner was a excited fan of the team with a personality instead of a curmudgeon in a private box.

    However, every time I see Mark Cuban's name on something on the Internet, it's always followed by a pile of fail. You can take whatever he says and pretty well be assured that the opposite is true. I'm not sure why Techdirt or other blogs I read care about what he says. He's so consistently wrong he should just be ignored. He's Dvorakian.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    melvillain, 17 Mar 2008 @ 12:54pm

    mark cuban

    Is this guy ever going to shut up? Out of all the press he gets, I think he might have made one good suggestion. I like your point of view TD.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Citizen kan, 17 Mar 2008 @ 12:55pm

    They've got it backwards

    Blogs should shun the words "New York Times". Why drag blogs down to that level?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    The Mighty Buzzard, 17 Mar 2008 @ 12:57pm

    feh

    AC#1, you fail at English.

    Tim, I fully agree the NYT should cease calling itself a newspaper. Not because of the dearth of worthless rags out there that use the same term, though. More because the NYT should really be called an extremist propaganda forum. Truth in advertising and all that; people should know what to expect before they shell out their money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Dvorakian?, 17 Mar 2008 @ 1:18pm

    Re: jonnyq

    Dvorákian, don't you mean Qwerty? Maybe I'm just not as familiar as this term as yourself, but if you are referring to Dvorák - the alternate keyboard layout then you're definitely contradicting yourself.

    Typewriters used to be in Dvorák style, but people learned to type too fast with them and the keys would jam. So they introduced a grossly inefficient one so this wouldn't happen. People go so used to it, that it isn't the norm. Stats show that people are 10% faster with this layout. So don't you mean Qwertian?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 17 Mar 2008 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Tim

    I love your analysis Tim.
    Highly amusing and oooo so true.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    joe dauz, 17 Mar 2008 @ 2:11pm

    the wrong Dvorak

    http://www.pcmag.com/category2/0,1738,3574,00.asp

    I think he means the _Useless_ John Dvorak

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    D. Ziongadol, 17 Mar 2008 @ 3:11pm

    Cuban story

    "If some of the Times's blogs are brilliant and the others are mediocre, readers will figure that out and the best blogs will get more traffic over time..."

    Mediocre...as in Techdirt? Ah, now I understand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    casey barrera, 17 Mar 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Re: the wrong Dvorak

    Wow, if that's NOT the Dvorak jonnyq meant, it definitely makes more sense. I've haven't read such ill-informed, useless blather in quite some time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Jake, 17 Mar 2008 @ 3:31pm

    I Can See The NYT's Point

    The word 'blog' tends to imply something that's done in the writer's spare time without interest in financial gain, though I notice that the Guardian seems to have started using it for columns that appear only its website and not the print edition. (And given the quality of some of said columns, I can only hope the Guardian isn't paying for them, I might add.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Mitch the Bitch, 17 Mar 2008 @ 4:07pm

    They shouldnt be allowed to use the term newspaper at all because they quit reporting news and began spewing letwing stalinist propaganda long ago. From Pinch on down through Keller and into the trenches it's a flowers in the hair bunch who exist on emotion, feeling and conspiracy.

    Nope, no reortin goin on here pardner, as pinch laughs out loud...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Mike (profile), 17 Mar 2008 @ 6:09pm

    What's with all the NYT hatred?

    I really don't get all these comments that bitch about the NYT. Sure it's made a few mistakes, but as newspapers go, it remains much higher quality than most out there.

    It seems like most people who "hate" the NYTs do so because they heard some pundit declare the NYT as supporting one particular party, even though there's little evidence to suggest that's the case. While I don't think the NYTs does the greatest job covering certain subjects, it's ridiculous to believe that the paper is officially biased in one direction or the other. I've yet to see anything that suggests that's true.

    It would be nice if people would stop taking talking points from the likes of talk radio and TV and start thinking for yourselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Mike (profile), 17 Mar 2008 @ 6:10pm

    Re: I Can See The NYT's Point

    I Can See The NYT's Point

    Er... it's not the NYT's that made the suggestion...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Jericho Matt Bloom, 17 Mar 2008 @ 7:32pm

    I agree.

    Seems to me that the New York Times is among the rif raf. Along with most other mainstream news outlets that would rather analyze the intricacies of Obama's minister's statements (do you think he might have had indigestion when he made those statements?!!!!), or the latest hangnail Britteny Spears had this week. When paying attention to the mainstream media, one might form the opinion that there isn't a whole hell of a lot going on in the world. You and I obviously know differently.

    I think it's funny that the Times has the nerve to complain about declining sales as American Journalism falls into an Abyss of fluff and meaningless editorial opinion. It is for that reason that I agree with the writer of the article. I think they should call themselves something different. How about "Pointless Waste of Pixels and Bandwidth?"

    It's got a ring to it, don't you think?

    You see, that way, all you have to do is see the word, associated with the Fourth Estate, and know that their "Pointless" branded blog serves little journalistic value. Doing something like that would be a remarkably useful service to the rest of us.

    But what do I know?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    jonnyq, 18 Mar 2008 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: jonnyq

    I was referring to John Dvorak of PC World, who is the only other tech "guru" I know of that's as consistently as wrong as Cuban.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    jonnyq, 18 Mar 2008 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: jonnyq

    read the later comments - PC Mag...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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