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The Walk-through Walked Away, But Not Out

The New York Times Blog The Walk-Through [1] 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 [2], 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 [3], Diner’s Journal [4], DealBook [5] and others. I just discovered Floyd Norris’ new blog [6].

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 [7]. So what would have made it work?

I think it comes down to a few items: