Is this the end of the newspaper blog?

A number of its blogs are being cut at the New York Times and it is reviewing the future of many more. The Green blog, Media Decoder and The Choice (about getting into and paying for university) have all been chopped.

The axing of the blogs at the New York Times has sparked a fresh round of debate about whether blogs and blogging is dead. It happened when Twitter arrived and is a question that seems to be asked every year.

Blogs axed at the NY Times are to be followed by a number more, according to Capital New York. It reports that next to go are all of the Times’ sports blogs.

Newspaper blogs, which have long served as good ways to aggregate content around a particular area as well as a way to report breaking news, have been around almost as long as newspapers have been on the web.

But newspapers have changed radically since they first went digital.  Social media has exploded, individual pages became more blog like, and digital newspaper design has moved on. I’d argue that many newspaper pages are increasingly indistinguishable from blogs.

So while distinct blogs might not be a feature of the long future of newspapers they have themselves become much more blog like.

For instance, is a frequently updated breaking news page on a newspaper website a blog or is it just a section of the site? Moreover does that matter?

Dean Baquet, the managing editor of the NY Times, said that the paper was rethinking blogs and suggested that the “golden age of blogs at The Times may be over”:

“Blogs proliferated early on because they were seen as a way for desks and subjects to get into the web game. They taught us a different way of writing and thinking, created a way to move fast on coverage. But I’d argue that as we’ve matured, the sections themselves now act like blogs.”

Eileen Murphy, The NY Times’s spokeswoman expanded on this particularly in reference to the sports blogs.

“In most cases we’re eliminating blogs that essentially duplicate section fronts. Each sport had its own blog and also has its own subsection front on the Web site; same for Media Decoder.

“There are other instances like this and those blogs will also be eliminated at some point. The goal is to decrease confusion for readers about where to find information on various subjects by eliminating the duplication of publishing platforms. We are not reducing our reporting or editing staffs devoted to coverage of any of these subjects.”

Murphy also spoke about how the content of some less news-oriented blogs was evergreen and did not require their own blogs. The Choice college blog being a case in point.

The content of that blog was evergreen and will remain available on the site and we’ll continue to cover college admissions in a variety of ways. But the decision to eliminate the blog was made in order to focus some of its resources elsewhere,” said Murphy.

While newspaper blogs might fade they have always been very different from standalone blogs, which remain in fine health as the blogging space continues grow. Here blogging shows no signs of dying despite what
some may argue.

In recent months we have seen new players enter the market such as Quora getting into the blogging business and Ning relaunching again as a personal blogging platform.

Then we have Yahoo’s $1bn acquisition of Tumblr. Just prior to its acquisition Tumblr announced it had passed the 100 million blog mark and in the process has racked up more than 44.6 billion posts and has attracted an audience of roughly 170 million people per month. All that has helped it become one of the top 10 most visited sites in the world.

Blogging appears to be in rude health.

*Gordon Macmillan writes for online journal The Wall.