Monday, September 13, 2010

NYU and New York Times pair up to cover East Village

The New York Times has paired up with New York University's journalism school to create The Local East Village, a new hyperlocal daily news blog focusing on the East Village.

According to the "Hello Neighbors" message posted on the new website, "The Local is a journalistic collaboration designed to reflect the richness of the East Village, report on its issues and concerns, give voice to its people and create a space for our neighbors to tell stories about themselves."

"It's hyperlocal journalism and figuring out how local journalism works in the age of the Web," NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen says in a video about the project.

The Local East Village is operated by the students and faculty of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, in collaboration with The New York Times, which provides supervision "to ensure that the blog remains impartial, reporting-based, thorough and rooted in Times standards," according to the web site.

"We're going to be right in the neighborhood covering the stories that are important to people who live in the East Village," NYU journalism professor Yvonne Latty said in the video.

The site launched today and will have a kick-off celebration on Sept. 23. Richard G. Jones, a former New York Times reporter, is editor of the site with oversight by Mary Ann Giordano, a deputy metropolitan editor at the Times. They will oversee the coverage. Content will come from NYU students and members of the community.

The site includes a "Virtual Assignment Desk" that allows anyone in the community to propose a story. Community members can also peruse a list of assignments that have been approved by editors and volunteer to take one on. "Story ideas" already on the list include meetings of local community boards and the Police Community Council.

"From the beginning of our discussions with The Times, a consistent mandate from the editors has been to involve the community in production of the site," Rosen wrote in a blog post today about the project. "This had to be pro-am journalism or it wasn’t worth doing. We quickly settled on an ambitious goal: as soon as we could get there, at least half the material should come from people who live in the East Village. That means half the posts authored by the community and half the ideas for what to cover coming from the community."

Jay Rosen shares more thoughts about the project in an interview with PBS MediaShift.

The Local East Village is one of several collaborative community journalism ventures the Times is embarking on. In 2009, The Times launched The Local focusing on the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn. In January, The Times turned over day-to-day control of the local news blog to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, its partner on the site. The Local remains on The Times’ website.

In May, the Times helped establish The Bay Citizen, which describes itself as "a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to fact-based, independent reporting on civic and community issues in the San Francisco Bay Area." The Bay Citizen produces the editorial content for the Bay Area pages of The Times, which appear on Friday and Sunday in local editions of the newspaper. The Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism is another partner in that project.

In the Media Decoder column for the Times, Richard Pérez-Peña wrote "The Local blogs stand as an example of a fast-growing trend of mainstream news organizations farming out some of their reporting to outsiders. New organizations like ProPublica, Politico, Global Post and, among others, have supplied articles to newspapers. Such arrangements can provide relatively low-cost reporting for cash-strapped papers, but at times they have also raised questions about how established news organizations can vouch for the credibility of less well-known start-ups."

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