Blogging Newark

The Times launched a Newark Mayor’s race blog last week, which should be interesting for a handful of reasons. First on the merits, because the people writing it, including ex-Observerite Josh Benson, are good reporters; and what’s shaping up as a James-Booker rematch could be fascinating.

But it also raises a couple of interesting questions. First, does the cachet of the New York Times bring an automatic audience to a blog? My guess is no, but we’ll see. (At least it isn’t walled off behind TimesSelect, like Chris Suellentrop’s clever but inaccessible Opinionator.)

Second, is blend of arch blogging and on-one-hand-on-the-other-hand reporting that most newspaper reporters (including this one) are used to suitable for the Newark contest? I struggle to separate sensibility from opinion on this site, and occasionally fail. But this is in the relatively calm, well-scrutinized waters of New York politics. James, in the last race, behaved like an incredible thug, throwing around flat lies and racial slurs and employing his police department to political ends. That’s the foreground to this year’s election. Can you say that on a New York Times blog? Can you not?