Listen to Len Apcar and make your own guess how long it will be before the New York Times (the online edition) certifies the sea change in media with its own Times-style blog about opera, or art, or more likely, about the 2004 presidential campaign. Editor in chief of The New York Times on the Web, Len Apcar brought Times majesty to BloggerCon this weekend, and a certain blog envy, too. Passion and fashion favor the bloggers these days, no matter that power and money are all with the institutional media. “People in the webworld feel that they are the ascendant force,” as Jay Rosen of NYU remarked at BloggerCon. It was Jay Rosen’s image that we’re all looking at a version of Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York.” The giants of Big Media are studying and stalking the hungry bloggers, who are studying and stalking the rich establishment. In their wildest dreams, either gang might capture, coopt or maybe kill the other. But in real life, and at BloggerCon, there is much respectful probing gang-to-gang.
Len Apcar covered the auto industry, also Congress and the Texas S&L scandals for the Wall Street Journal, and he worked the foreign and business desks at the Times; but he is a citizen of webworld too as the editor of an online newspaper with more readers now than the Times on paper. Fifty years old, Len Apcar is the embodiment of the Times on the verge. Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof has put a very tentative Times toe in the blogging water with a pretty bland, workaday exchange with readers, called “Kristof Responds.” The next step will be bolder–an open notebook about dance or books, perhaps. Or a “Boys on the Bus” forum for all the boys and girls covering presidential politics. It could be “some kind of running journal that looks at the feel, the texture, the personalities, the tensions and some of the drama of the campaign,” Len Apcar said, “the smells and bells of a particular story. In the right hands it could be compelling reading.”