The Hudson River Cannot Contain the 'Times' Blog Bug

First came The Carpetbagger. Then The Walk-Through. Then The Opinionator and Diner's Journal and Dealbook and, finally, yesterday, The Pour. The way blogs are metastasizing at the Times, we figured that were just about out of things to cover. What's left, we wondered; blogging about — ha! — Newark?

Actually, yes.

Newark.06 launches today. Everything you ever wanted to know about Sharpe James and Cory Booker. (Yay!) Jon Landman's memo is after the jump.

To: The Staff
From: Jonathan Landman

March 15, 2006

Two developments on the blog front.

The Pour, Eric Asimov's wine and spirits blog, is off to a terrific start, with well over 100 comments posted on the first day. (Lots of our readers, it seems, prefer beer.)

Tomorrow we'll kick off our first political blog, Newark.06. It'll be about the mayoral race, another round of the fascinating battle between Sharpe James and Cory Booker.

The blog is the inspiration of Damien Cave of our Newark bureau, who will get help from Josh Benson, a regular contributor to the New Jersey weekly, and other reporters. It will run through the May 9 election and a bit beyond.

It will keep Newark voters and anyone else who's interested (the first James-Booker race was the subject of "Street Fight," the Oscar-nominated documentary) up to date with entries, links, photos, slide shows and videos chronicling what's certain to be another tumultuous campaign. It will move faster than the newspaper, employ tools that a newspaper doesn't have, and will invite the participation of readers in a way a newspaper can't.

There are great reasons for us to master the art of the political blog. For one thing, politics is, more and more, practiced on the internet. Just as Wal-Mart uses friendly bloggers to project its words and ideas into the public sphere, politicians use the internet to spread and process information. Bloggers and their readers trade tips and chew over issues in interesting ways. Our participation in this conversation gives us access to information and points of view that might otherwise remain invisible to us, and to our readers.

For those of us for whom the word "blog" still connotes only nastiness and partisanship, half-baked ideas and unverified pseudo facts, please remember that there is also a huge amount of useful and sometimes important stuff bouncing around. There is nothing about employing the technology that diminishes our judgment, or our obligation to exercise it.

That's what Damien & Co. propose to do.