Innovation That Matters

Hyperlocal news from The New York Times

Publishing & Media

Billions of people may inhabit this planet, but when it comes right down to it, most of us are still primarily interested in what’s going on in our own backyards. That’s part of the premise behind The Printed Blog, which we covered back in January, and it’s also the driving notion behind The Local, a new initiative from The New York Times. Launched on Monday, The Local is a group of community news and information websites devoted to residents of five particular areas of New York and New Jersey—specifically, Clinton Hill and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, N.J. The sites will feature posts by both NYT journalists and community members alike about day-to-day life in their neighbourhoods, with topics including schools, restaurants, businesses and real estate, economic life, crime, government services, transportation, volunteer opportunities, outdoor activities, parenting issues and more. Features will include calls for citizen engagement, such as posts that mobilize users to resolve a local problem; blogs, Q&As and creative works by community members; neighbourhood calendars; and virtual “refrigerator” art by community children. For the Brooklyn sites, The Times is partnering with the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where students will collaborate in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene by both contributing and teaching residents about reporting and the use of interactive media. Jim Schachter, the NYT’s editor for digital initiatives, explains: “We’ll be reporting on the big concerns in these communities, from deer hunts to property taxes, crime to school budgets. And we’ll be striving to empower residents to report on their own communities, as well as to contribute their creativity and ideas.” Combining both professional and citizen journalism with a strong element of (still) made here appeal, The Local has the potential to engage Generation C(ontent) in new ways—possibly providing a model for struggling newspapers everywhere. One to watch!



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