The New York Times (NYT) will experiment with hyperlocal blogs, starting with two next Monday, Brownstoner reports. Each site will be led by a NYT journalist, but the paper will also use free neighbourhood contributors and will work with CUNY journalism students.
The two pilot sites: One for Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn; the other for Millburn, Maplewood, and South Orange, N.J. They’ll focus on “cultural events, bar and restaurant openings, real estate, arts, fashion, health, social concerns and anything else that goes on in the ‘SoHo of Brooklyn’,” according to an email leaked to Brownstoner.
The Times will effectively be competing with a slew of neighbourhood blogs, aggregators like Outside.in, and potentially even Google (GOOG) ad boss Tim Armstong’s new investment, “Patch,” which also has a beta site in… South Orange, N.J.
Of course, this won’t fix the NYT Co’s real financial problems.
But it’s not a terrible idea if the Times journalists can run the sites in addition to their normal jobs. There’s plenty of interest (and search engine opportunities) in hyper-local content, some of which could even be reused on the Times‘ main site. And the Times would add an air of quality and legitimacy to content from amateur writers — who’d be honored to see their name on nytimes.com. But scale will be important.