Via Golis, it looks like the New York Times is starting up a network of neighborhood-based New York blogs. And they’re serious about it–the editor in charge of this initiative says: “Our two pilot sites are staffed with full-time NYTimes reporters.” But it sounds like they’re looking to move into more of a freelance-based model once everything’s set up.
I’m intrigued. The Times is a lot better at this Internet stuff than a lot of newspapers, and it’s great to see them moving beyond the newsroom and trying their hand at some more decentralized reporting. The question is how effective these blogs will be at staying on top of everything happening in their backyards, and whether the Times will be able to find talent that will put in the work for freelance rates. I’m willing to bet that they answer to both is “yes,” and the Times might even find that their new blogging team is a great farm group for full-time reporters.
If this model is successful, as I think it will be, hopefully a lot of other papers covering large urban areas will follow suit. One of the most disturbing consequences of the decline of print has been the impact it’s had on local coverage, and models like this are the best suggestion I’ve heard for how to fill in the gap.