On its face, The Local East Village is a collaborative experiment between a learning institution, the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, and a newspaper, The New York Times — but it’s much more than that.
The Local has been conceived and designed to help foster a journalistic collaboration with a third partner, our neighbors in the East Village. The site is designed to reflect our community, report on its issues and concerns, give voice to its people in a wide-reaching online public forum and create a space for our neighbors to tell stories about themselves.
Our coverage area — which extends from Broadway to the East River, 14th Street to Houston Street — is home to roughly 70,000 people and features a sturdy and robust blogosphere. What can we contribute? A healthy respect and appreciation for our neighbor blogs; the academic and intellectual resources of NYU; the vast journalistic experience and high professional standards of The Times; and a commitment to do our best to reflect the richness and texture of life in the community we share.
We hope, too, to provide innovation: For years now the lines between those who produce news and those who consume it have become increasingly blurred. And so we hope to bring our readers even more into the process of producing news in ways that few other sites have tried before.
One of those ways is through the Virtual Assignment Desk, an application produced by students at New York University and which makes its debut on this site. It is designed to provide readers with a seamless, intuitive tool for interacting with the process used in producing and shaping news. Those who use the desk can identify stories that they would like to see covered or volunteer to cover assignments themselves.
Those assignments will include posts about art, culture, crime, real estate, business and education that define our community. The stories we tell each other inside coffee shops that are so sharply focused on our community that they may not make the morning’s paper or be posted on another blog. Or the one thing everyone talked about at the dog run this weekend that might not ever show up on the evening news.
Like our sibling blogs on nytimes.com, we will seek to avoid snark and glibness and we hope to foster an engaging, collegial, informative and good-humored environment. Our site will focus on reporting — from both student journalists and our neighbors in the community — and offering perspectives in a community-wide conversation in the East Village. We hope that you — our collaborators, our partners, our neighbors — will join it.