Here is more on The Local: East Village, the NYU-New York Times hybrid web publication, from NYU’s Jay Rosen. We discussed this a bit yesterday. (And some of our criticism was interpreted by a few people to mean that 1. we hate students! and 2. we hate “new ideas”! Which, yes. Yes, we hate the young and their newfangled web journalism ideas! Isn’t that position obvious?) Now give that a read and you all can make up your own minds what you think of this new publication and we wish the young folks involved all the best in a great news-gathering experience! Obviously we have a couple of thoughts, because why wouldn’t we?
1. “The idea is that there’s no better way to learn about ‘reporting New York’ then to cover a neighborhood in New York for nytimes.com.” Completely agree with that! (Except for the last two words, but still, yes.)
2. “Students contributing to LEV as part of their coursework will not be paid….. The only compensation system that makes sense, and the only one that is practical for us, is to pay for a portion of the content, with priority given to the most reliable contributors, the highest value journalism and work that takes the most time, effort and talent. We certainly know that these sketchy promises will do little to mute criticism about exploiting cheap labor.” Well, hell, welcome to the club! (Not that we’re a good comparison, but we have not yet paid ourselves over here, so, sounds reasonable! Except… we expect in the near future to be nearing self-sufficiency, knock on wood, which we think needs to be a primary goal of any for-profit publication-which the Times very much is. People need to at least ask what it means for the Times to create an institution which is built upon not paying the real workers who make it possible. That is just how much I hate the young people-I want them to be paid for their work. The Times formerly paid its intern-reporters quite well, by the way! And by “formerly,” I mean, as of just a few years ago.)
3. “One of my priorities is the ergonomics of participation: making it super easy and efficient for people without journalism backgrounds to contribute.” Awesome! This is actually an extremely important bit of diversity. Anyone who has worked at a New York newspaper with any kind of awareness has long ago grown tired of the official channels through which a twice-yearly stream of Ivy League interns enter the system and obtain advancement, while those of us who did not attend college, or a best college, struggled for entry and access.
4. “You know what? It’s going to be messy and hard, which is to say real. But what better what [sic] is there to learn what journalists are yet good for in 2010?” Oh, fine: said the actress to the bishop.