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December 18, 2008

An Instant Op-Ed on the Instant Op-Ed

The New York Times has never been a marker of avant-garde media innovation. But the waters are choppy and they've already had to mortgage their glorious West Side palazzo against itself, so they have apparently decided to go rogue, throwing caution to the wind by debuting a radical new online strategy. Dubbed "Instant Op-Ed," this new technology will reportedly allow the Grey Lady's online presence to post immediate expert viewpoints on breaking news. The paper is keeping tight-lipped on the logistics, but right now, Gelf is prepared to call this one the Game Changer.


Insant Op-Edder, courtesy minifig's Flickr.

"Our Op-Ed now is very rapid response, but it is at the most the next day," Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal tells Editor and Publisher. "We are looking at a way to take advantage of the expandability of the Internet, the back and forth of it and the instantaneous nature of the Internet. Taking ideas that have existed in Op-Ed form and giving them a robust position online."

Leverage the very Internet against itself, New York Times!? Surely such cavaliering will upend the nature of information as we know it.

Mercifully, Rosenthal appears to understand the mercurial quantities he's poking at: "The idea is to have a group that provides opinions soon after news occurs, with a solid Web space dedicated to them."

He goes on, we imagine quite giddily, "One of them could write a piece arguing that something is a terrible idea, then another could argue that it is a great idea and a third could react to those. Readers could also comment, as they do now… It could be applied to almost anything. A lot of it is on the main news."

Wait. Isn't that a blog? Don't you guys have about a dozen of these blog things already? True, they're mainly on your sports pages, so no one probably knows about them. But what about your desperately underrated video/opinion mash-up, Bloggingheads? That surely deals with "main news" issues in a bloggy, impossibly rapid fashion, right?

Things being what they are, kudos to the Times, creaking into the 20th century like that. They're still years ahead the Tribune company, right? So when can we expect this Electric Light Parade? "Rosenthal said no exact date had been set to launch the program, but expected it to be before the Inauguration on Jan. 20."

This is going to explode Jeff Jarvis's mind.

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Speaking of meta Instant Op-Eds…

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