Another useful and well-known blog is dead.
Andrew Revkin, who created the Dot Earth blog at the New York Times nine years ago, announced this morning that the blog about global environmental issues is no more.
Revkin left the Times six years ago, but the paper maintained the blog in its opinion section after that because the Times was concerned about “advocacy blogging.” Revkin responded that, indeed, he advocated for reality.
The blog was one of the very few journalistic endeavors in which its writer favored online comments and interacting with his readers, an idea that was once a bright, shiny object in journalism circles, but has now mostly flamed out as journalism returns to its one-way world.
I’ve learned a huge amount through this effort, including, yes, from many of the readers who contributed 167,740-odd comments along the way. There’s been an insight almost every day amid the flow, which is why I never followed NPR or other news organizations that abandoned comments. That’s also one reason I’ve described myself off and on as a “selfish blogger.”
I’ll miss much about The Times after a 21-year association, particularly dozens of colleagues who became friends after so many years of working shoulder to shoulder.
I deeply appreciate the investment the paper made in sending me to the Arctic three times, as well as providing an outlet for my quirkier reporting on everything from worm vending machines to heavy metal singers.
But in its day, Revkin’s blog created a digital conversation about climate change, while maneuvering through the realities of the Internet.
The challenges in blogging, and managing commentary, persist.
Like Margaret Sullivan, the paper’s departing Public Editor, I was not very happy with the verified commenter system created by The Times to speed the posting of items by Times readers who passed various algorithmic thresholds for civility.
On Dot Earth, some regulars immediately gamed the system, posting strings of comments, while others sat in a queue awaiting my approval (which often happens too slowly because of my work flow).
As I was pondering options, I was thrilled last November to see two fairly obsessive commenters, “Kurt from Switzerland” and “Wmar,” voluntarily shed their verified status, conceding that it put them at an unfair disadvantage.
There is hope for the world.
Facebook and Twitter increasingly are the new venue for audience feedback, so while the online audience continues to have a voice, the reality is that fewer people in the news business side of things are listening, let alone conversing.