NY Times Goes Hyperlocal … But Does It Change Anything?
by Matt McGee on Mar 7, 2009 in Industry
The Local is, for now, two blogs covering suburban areas in northern New Jersey, outside of NYC. Tina Kelley is one of the primary bloggers for The Local, and she introduced the project here, promising what looks like a heavy emphasis on news-based local blogging:
The foundation of The Local will be local news, both breaking and simmering. We intend to ferret out the kind of information that my journalism training and 20 (yikes!) years in the news business has prepared me to find. I have my whole work day, plus a press card, to devote to getting answers for you.
Alan Wolk took the Times to task for, among other things, trying to cover three towns with one local blog. Note that Cari and I faced a similar issue of coverage and decided to start four separate blogs. (At the moment, the link to Alan’s blog above leads to an empty page, but you can read the post from the home page still.)
Cory Bergman was one of the local bloggers that The Times consulted, and he says they ignored the advice about launching the blogs on separate, non-branded domains. Both of the new Times blogs are on sub-domains of blogs.nytimes.com, and both clearly show the Times logo.
I continue to feel that almost any experiment like this that introduces the concept of local blogging to more people is good for all of us. The Times has enormous reach, and no doubt thousands of new people are now aware of what we do.
I also agree with both Alan’s and Cory’s suggestions above. I even question their decision to put The Local on a URL that has the word “marketing” in it:
Is this about community and connections, or is it about marketing? This is one reason I don’t think a Big Newspaper has what it takes to win at local blogging. It’s not about marketing — not directly. It’s not about scale and reach and access and brand name. It’s about neighbors and passion and all the mundane stuff that happens on your block that really doesn’t matter to anyone but you. It’s about people like Steve Sherron getting Hyperlocalbloggeritus. I think the successful local blogs will come from the street, not from the company boardroom.
What think you?