The New York Times has scrapped its hyperlocal blog covering the New Jersey towns Millburn, Maplewood and South Orange, and worked out an arrangement with the popular hyperlocal website Baristanet to take over its coverage of those areas.
Starting tomorrow, July 1, the Times’ Jersey Local URLs will redirect to Baristanet, which already covers Montclair, Bloomfield and Glen Ridge. The freelancer who had been running the Jersey Local, Lois DeSocio, will no longer work for The Times in that capacity, associate managing editor Jim Schachter, one of the Times staffers who oversees its hyperlocal coverage, told us.
The Times began its hyperlocal experiment a year and a half ago. In addition to the Jersey site, it also launched a Local for the Brooklyn neighborhoods Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. The original idea was that full-time editorial staffers would edit and run the blogs with free contributions from neighbourhood residents and j-schoolers.
But in January, The Times handed publishing responsibility for the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Local over to CUNY’s graduate journalism program, which hired Annaliese Griffin of the blog Brooklyn Based to write and manage community contributions. The paper struck up a similar deal with NYU’s j-school in February to help The Times run an East Village Local, which is launching this fall.
Schachter said The Times looked into doing something similar in New Jersey but couldn’t find the right partnership. Nor did it have the resources to devote a full-time staffer to the project, he said, hence its decision to hand the reigns over to Baristanet.
We asked Schachter whether the Jersey Local site was able to compete with Patch, AOL’s hyperlocal news venture, which has sites in the same towns, and he said The Local’s Jersey traffic was on par with Patch’s corresponding sites. He declined to offer numbers, but according to Compete.com, The Local South Orange, for instance, seemed to be blowing South Orange Patch out of the water.
Schachter also said The Times has more plans for hyperlocal content, but that it was too early to announce what they are.
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