NYTimes.com launches “The Local” community websites


“The Local” is five community news and information websites for residents of Clinton Hill and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, N.J. The sites will feature posts by New York Times journalists and community members about everyday life in their neighborhoods, including news and information about schools, restaurants, businesses and real estate, as well as economic life, crime, government services, transportation, volunteer opportunities, outdoor activities, parenting issues and more.

The sites are a pilot project that is part of an exploration by The Times of ways to extend its journalistic values to serve and engage audiences in new ways. For the Brooklyn sites, The Times is blending its community journalism initiative with one being undertaken by the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. The school will collaborate with The Local in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene to teach residents about reporting and the use of interactive media. CUNY journalism students will contribute to The Local and help area residents contribute. The students will also maintain a blog about the pilot project as a way to share their findings with educators and journalists. Some students will also have summer internships working on The Local.

Features of The Local will include:

Calls for citizen engagement, such as posts that mobilize users to research or resolve a local problem.
Creative works by people in the communities, including short films, poetry, sermons, book chapters, short stories and multimedia artwork.
Community contributors posting on topics such as the challenge of running a small business during the economic downturn, keeping a green home, local fitness opportunities and the small pleasures of neighborhood life.
Questions and Answers with interesting and important people in the communities.
A virtual refrigerator of art submitted by neighborhood children.
A calendar of neighborhood events submitted by users.
Announcements of lifecycle events submitted by users, including wedding announcements, photos, news tips and death notices.
“SeeClickFix,” an online service created by developers and entrepreneurs in New Haven, Conn., that encourages users to improve their neighborhood.

The Local cam be accessed at these URLs:

Clinton Hill (www.nytimes.com/clintonhill)
Fort Greene (www.nytimes.com/fortgreene)
Maplewood (www.nytimes.com/maplewood)
Millburn (www.nytimes.com/millburn)
South Orange (www.nytimes.com/southorange)
According to Nielsen Online, NYTimes.com had 21.6 million unique visitors in the United States in January 2009, and was a top five current events and global news site.