Jake Dobkin, co-founder and publisher of the local New York blog, Gothamist, gave New York Times' executives an idea of what to expect during their Thursday morning panel discussion with him with some provocative comments published via his Facebook page last Tuesday.
In preparation for the panel, the moderator, the Times' media critic David Carr, sent Dobkin the following question in advance: "Jake, you've competed with the NYTimes in the metro space. It has formidable resources, but how do you see the newspaper landing in the local market? Do you think that the incoming cohort of consumers see the Times as a credible editorial resource in New York political and cultural affairs?"
Dobkin quickly took offense. "I don't think a paper that loses millions of dollars a year and funds itself by taking extortionary loans from plutocratic Mexican billionaires can be said to be competing in anything, Metro or otherwise. My feeling is you only get to congratulate yourself if you produce a great product and make money doing it-- you don't get any points for doing just the first half," wrote Dobkin.
Dobkin goes on to dismiss Cityroom, the Times' metro blog, as a "fairly lazy and sleep-inducing ripoff of Gothamist." According to Dobkin, "Five years ago, the Times could have bought the best local blogs in New York for a song-- instead, they decided they could do it better in-house, and completely surrendered the 20-40 year old demographic to sites like ours."
The Times has recently experimented in hyperlocal news blogs like "The Local," which covers Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and Maplewood, Millburn, and South Orange in New Jersey. The day-to-day operations of the Brooklyn blog were recently handed over to the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism.
Dobkin claims that through the Times' "slavish devotion to originality and old-fashioned reporting, they've lost their most important civic role, which is being the master curator which tells people in the city what's important each day. They just don't do that for people my age any more."
If the Times continues to cut staff from the Metro desk, Dobkin predicts two options for their future: "Either produce a much diminished product, or start acting more like us, doing less original reporting and more editorial curation."
The Gothamist, on the other hand, is a "curating machine" run by five editors and a few interns, says Dobkin. With the help of editorial tips, the blog posts about fifty stories a day through aggregation and some original reporting. Since launching in 2003, the Gothamist has expanded into thirteen websites in four countries.
With some very strong opinions being thrown around, it promises to be an especially interesting panel discussion.
Sources: Business Insider