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Robert Mackey’s The Lede is a must

August 1, 2010 3 comments

Robert Mackey

The New York Times is often thought of as, depending on who you ask, either the last great bastion of journalism, or the behind-the-times monolith that doesn’t understand how to use the web. Obviously both of those are exaggerations, but to claim that the Times has no expertise or presence in the online world is to be flat-out mistaken.

The Times hosts several blogs on its website, all with different beats, all very capably handled, but one in particular always catches my eye. That would be the Robert Mackey authored blog, the Lede.

Mackey has been running the LedeĀ out of the NY Times newsroom since 2008. He has shown ample technical ability embedding videos and uploading photos on his site, building up followers on twitter both for himself and the self-titled account for the blog, and linking frequently to the online sources of his information.

Mackey is also an excellent news writer, managing to dance a fine line between the formal traditional style of a newspaper man, and the casual and more interactive style of a modern-day blogger. He switches from funny to informative quickly and with ease. Some of that is thanks to his experience as he has written around the world in a variety of settings. According to his NY Times profile, Mackey has written for a range of impressive outlets including the Guardian, Slate Magazine, and the AP. Mackey was even a field producer for the UN during the Bosnian and Croatian wars.

The most impressive thing for me about Mackey, is his ability to write authoritatively on almost any subject. The Lede, while primarily an international news blog, routinely publishes sports stories, social media stories, and even pop culture stories, and then manages to tie it all in to the blogs main theme. Mackey wrote this inspiring piece about a Tour de France rider who gets back on his bike after a crash, and infused it with a very human feel and a touch of humor. Then later on the same day, author a straight news piece about rape cases in Israel being influenced by racism. Meanwhile on twitter, in addition to posting updates, he is able to actively engage with his readers and encourage them to participate across a variety of social networks.

Mackey is a terrific writer who brings a new, well-researched look to the big stories, writes about interesting human interest pieces, and tremendously improves the online profile of the largest remaining newspaper. If the NY Times and its standards for journalism are to survive, Mackey and the Lede will be a large reason why.

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