The New York Times Blog The Walk-Through made it official and closed their doors. This was not unexpected since the last post was made more than a month ago. I am glad that they made a decision one way or the other. It did no justice to their real estate reputation to have the blog sit without content or explanation.

At the end of the day, it was a noble attempt at something that it is difficult for Big Media to pull off. They had Damon Darlin, a prolific writer for the business section to be the primary contributor plus a slew of other writers. The business section was the driver of the blog rather than the real estate section, which I didn’t quite understand, but nevertheless, it had all the pedigree it needed to be successful, yet it wasn’t.

The New York Times has a number of other blogs that (I believe) are successful such as Pogue’s Posts, Diner’s Journal, DealBook and others. I just discovered Floyd Norris’ new blog.

Why do these blogs thrive and The Walk-through did not?

The Walk-through started out fairly benign but was skewered alive when it took on the bubble bloggers. The reader’s response was rapid and readers pulled no punches.

After that difficult period, its content then seemed to lose its identity. It couldn’t address the question: Was their a real estate bubble? Not that it had to have an answer, but bubble bloggers wanted a commitment. Shortly after this period, the content reverted to its original safe format as if those responsible lost interest and the quantity of posts seemed to ease off.

It is a cop out to say Big Media can’t do a blog about real estate. It can. Just look at Businessweek’s Hot Property. So what would have made it work?

I think it comes down to a few items:

  • Consistency: post every day if possible
  • Voice: the language and tone need to be familiar to the reader
  • Passionate: express your views, not what you think the reader wants to hear.
  • Content: Don’t use it as a vehicle to link to all your feature stories. It ok to do sometimes.
  • Original thoughts: Don’t glom off of other blogs.
  • Better graphics: Leverage the photo archives and use charts and graphs.
  • Champion the blog: Have a representative, the person most identified with the blog.
  • Sense of community: Think about how much you want to orient the content to reader feedback.

6 Responses to “The Walk-through Walked Away, But Not Out”

  1. I don’t remember the details of the different stages of The Walk Through; I just remember it all as being pretty lame. They took all the prestige of The Old Grey Lady to generate oodles of incoming links, then they pissed it all away.

    No offense to the other nominees (especially not you or Urban Digs) but when Inman nominated The Walk Through for ‘most innovative blog’ I thought they were just sucking up.

    What a lost opportunity. They could have been a contender, but they threw it away — without even the drama of Terry Malloy.

  2. John K says:

    I thought it could have ended up being quite good, but the lack of posts hurt it, severely. And, there wasn’t much new news there, even though the Times must be sitting on “gloms” of stories, every day.

    Joyce Cohen’s blog could be fun and interesting, since she writes such a great article in each Sunday’s Times, but she never updates it, making it worthless. Well, she updates it, but mostly just to push her Sunday column.

  3. Larry C says:

    The blog failed because it didn’t do what blogs are supposed to do, foster conversation amongst a community. The Walk-thru was all over the place, it was not focused on NY, Brooklyn, LA. Why do I care what happened in Oregon last week? I had to skip through tons of crap to find the New York blogs. And if you do make a blog national, you need to first speak to your local audience then shout out to everyone else. Its so simple, they just overshot their load – they need to redo the blog in the same manner that they make the metro section, which is localized for Westchester, CT, Long Island, etc. In Miami you don’t get a metro section if you buy the Times. That’s all –

  4. Dan Green says:

    One thing that the now-defunct blog did very well was link to third-party blogs for content and depth. The writers understood their blogs place in the Blog Universe.

    Months ago, Hot Property suffered from the same malaise as Damon, Joyce and the others. Posts were sporadic and the content was numbing. Lately, they’ve improved on that.

    Big Media can blog, but they need to WANT to blog (and by “they” I mean the writers, not the paper). If the passion is lacking, the blog falls by the wayside.

    As the author of this terrific blog, you should know that better than anybody. If your heart’s not in it, your readers will see that and probably never visit you again.

    Successful bloggers exist as one of two characters: comprehensive aggregator of news found elsewhere, or provider of insightful opinion and rhetoric.

    Maybe “incitefull” is a better choice of words! 😉

    Farewell, The Walk-Through… We hardly knew ye.

  5. Interesting point by Larry C today (“The Walk-thru was all over the place, it was not focused on NY, Brooklyn, LA. Why do I care what happened in Oregon last week? I had to skip through tons of crap to find the New York blogs.”), which I think is true of the paper NYT newspaper coverage of real estate, as well.

    I am not talking so much about the articles that are explicitly about someplace other than NYC (as so many in The Times are). But when they do a “general” article about real estate practices or issues, they usually fail completely to provide the Manhattan-centric angle that (most of) their readers would want. For example, they will often refer to MLSs without noting that Manhattan does not have a MLS. So “the point” will have limited (or no) relevance to Manhattan.

    But that’s another issue, for another medium. I hope they re-think the whole RE blog possibilities and try again in a few months. With their resources, it should be terrific.

  6. Coruscation says:

    Just as theie real estate blog folds, their Real Estate magazine spawns.