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On the blogs front: Exit Kareem, enter 'The Big Picture'

June 28, 2008 |  6:39 am

"Why are you canceling so many great blogs?" wrote Sarah Rivanis of South Pasadena. "First Kareem Abdul [Jabbar] and now Siel from Emerald City. My two favorites, for which I subscribed to their RSS feeds. I was impressed when the L.A. Times featured these blogs. I thought to myself how forward thinking and creative these were. I don't know why they are canceled, but it leaves a bad taste." The subject line of her note summed it up: "Why cutting so many blogs?"

Although those two have left, more Times blogs have started in the meantime, responded blogs editor Tony Pierce in a note to the reader: "It might seem we are in cutting mode in regards to blogs, but the opposite is actually the case. This month we have added six blogs and next month we plan on adding three more." 

Among blogs begun this month are Countdown to Crawford, covering the last days of the Bush administration; Ticket to Beijing, devoted to the Olympics; and The Big Picture, Patrick Goldstein's movie column expanded to the Web. Goldstein, in fact, used his June 24 column to introduce his leap to the Web, writing of blogs, "The best ones offer a wonderfully brainy, personal and irreverent way of seeing the world. If you go to our website, you'll see the paper now has 40-plus blogs, with more being launched all the time."

Indeed, three years ago there were three; The Times now has 42 blogs, and they're seen as an increasingly important way to report the news.

About the blogs Rivanis mentioned, Pierce noted, "We were sad to lose both of those blogs too." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is off and running on his own, having started to blog on his own website ( Siel, too, is running her own show -- but, Pierce says, that was to make way for a soon-to-be-launched environmental blog with reporters from various desks in the newsroom contributing.

Readers will see more blogs like that in the coming months, says Meredith Artley, Times executive editor for interactive, who points out that the blog format allows continuous coverage on major topics of interest. That model has already happened on the just-launched Technology blog, where the Business section's technology writers have joined together to "change traditional notions of a newspaper site," as Artley puts it. "Before the Technology blog, readers would come to and see a page dominated with links to our articles. Visitors to that page now see the blog, which is an up-to-date conversation, in addition to all the articles written for the website and the newspaper."

Artley calls the blogs "the center of gravity" for original journalism on, noting that blogs allow minute-by-minute reporting by staffers, as well as comments from readers -- all of which is available then for The Times' print version as well.

And because the reader responses are sometimes the best part of a post, the Comments Blog was created to spotlight some of the most interesting comment threads and provide a place for new discussions.

Some of The Times' blogs grew out of the Web -- the widely read Top of the Ticket (described as "politics, coast to coast, with the L.A. Times") and The Dish Rag (celebrity gossip and fashion). Others grew out of the print newsroom -- the Health section and Book Review fuel their own blogs.

Pierce says he's already identified a few more categories that The Times will start blogging about in the next few months.