'Freakonomics' moves to prime time

NYTimes.com exclusively hosts 'Freakonomics' with Mark Cuban, Jim Cramer as quorum and Q&A guests to the social economics blog

The New York Times seems to have figured out one way to deal with news blogs: treat them as a column--sort of.

As of Wednesday, NYTimes.com became the exclusive host of Freakonomics, the social-economics blog based on the best-selling book of the same name, placing it under its Opinions section.

The blogs' authors, Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, however, do not appear alongside esteemed New York Times columnists, but floating above the paper's daily podcast. It's an undefined space left of the Letters section that doesn't list any other specific blogs.

Freakonomics logo
NYTimes.com

While the placement may be strange, the move is not entirely surprising. Dubner has long contributed to The New York Times Magazine and the book Freakonomics grew from a profile piece Dubner did for the magazine on Levitt.

What is unusual is the strange hodgepodge of content that makes up what is now a NYTimes.com blog.

In addition to blog postings, Freakonomics hosts what it calls the "Freakonomics Quorum," a forum for celebrity guests to post opinions on an assigned topic. The latest one includes responses from Barbara Ehrenreich of Nickel and Dimed fame and entrepreneur turned Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who gave a one-line answer. It hosts user-generated Q&As with famous guests. Mad Money host Jim Cramer is the most recent contributor and makes sense for a social economics blog.

Apparently, the first day was a little bumpy.

Regulars to the blog posted complaints that they no longer received their full-text RSS feeds. Levitt, meanwhile, received the most hate mail he has ever gotten, save the time he wrote about the correlation between crime and abortion statistics 10 years ago. It was in response to a post on the topic of terrorism, according to Levitt.

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