NYT Gets Hyperlocal; Community Sites Planned For NY, NJ Neighborhoods

On Monday, the NYTimes.com will announce plans for hyperlocal sites throughout New York and New Jersey. The new online channel is called The Local and will blend citizen journalism and staff reports, according to a draft of a release obtained by paidContent. The first sites in the program will focus on Clinton Hill and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange, N.J. The site will cover all the usual neighborhood points of interest — schools, restaurants, businesses and real estate, as well as crime, government services, transportation, events — and will hope to attract local advertisers. The effort follows several other online initiatives the NYTimes.com has taken, including featuring aggregated news on its home page and the wave of new blog sections the past few months.

Interestingly, The Local will also be enlisting students taught by Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis as part of his citizen journalism initiative at The City University of New York. Jarvis told me that the collaboration came out of a discussion with NYT’s Jon Landman at an Online Publishers Association meeting about two months ago. “The NYT is trying to figure out hyperlocal journalism and this is an important step,” Jarvis told me. In addition to helping the NYTimes.com, Jarvis’ program is seeking a foundation grant to teach people in neighborhoods how to be trained as community journalists. A half dozen of his students will work on The Local and will also serve as interns during the summer on the initiative.

Jarvis added that the new initiative will reach out to a new population of advertisers — the plumbers and pizza places that don’t tend to market themselves in the pages of the NYT. Much has been made of the fact that many newspapers have neglected to target smaller businesses and have lost out to online directories. To help the NYT catch up, Jarvis hopes to bring in business students from Baruch College to help map out the best ways to bring in those new advertisers.

NYTimes.com rolls out new energy section: As part of its rollout of business blogs, the NYTimes.com is also expanding its green coverage. Today, the site introduced its new Energy & Environment section. The section promises a great deal of online-only material and original videos, as well as aggregates news and headlines from Environment & Energy Publishing