After a few minutes of talking to Noah Rosenberg, you are reminded of the 1920s journalist caricature that we have grown to love as a society. Fast-talking, witty, entrepreneurial, and passionate about people. However, one major difference stands out — his multimedia storytelling skills and geek power which he is using to tell the stories of New York City in a new way with his venture Narrative.ly.

“There is so much to uncover here in New York. People say that the city is saturated with media outlets, but no one is dedicated to uncovering these narrative gems, or shedding light on what it means to live in and interact with the city … So many of its stories are left untold,” Rosenberg said.

Fresh Hyper-Local Storytelling

Narrative.ly is hoping to change that by offering a new and fresh approach to covering local stories, and focusing on those human interest stories that are usually left untold yet are so appreciated by a city that is proud of its colorful citizens and strong diverse communities. It seems they have some outside support as well. Narrative.ly has completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, surpassing its $50,000 goal (total raised: $53,740) and its online community has a strong, passionate base.

“We have been getting enthusiasm from way beyond New York. People see the possibility Narrative.ly represents to engage New York City … Already, we have had to translate many supportive tweets from people in other languages,” Rosenberg said.

Tapping Into Good Journalists

In a city where diversity and different perspectives live in every nook and corner, this is an exciting but large feat to accomplish. So, the project has a roster of more than 40 high-quality contributors, as well as an engaged online network to draw ideas from.

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“In 2008, newspapers were folding and all these talented journalists were out of work. I wanted to do something to harness the power of this group. Ninety percent of our writers are part of the freelance crowd that is looking for a new outlet, and to tell human interest stories … The majority of our contributors are in their late 20s or early-to-mid-30s,” Rosenberg said.

The Model

Narrative.ly has applied a unique approach to both the editorial and revenue models.

On the editorial side, content focuses on original storytelling, and will be highly interactive, engaging, and shareable. It’s hoping to slow down the news cycle and avoid the 24/7 updates and short blog bursts, focusing more on in-depth storytelling that places a premium on craft, quality, and engagement.

Each week will be dedicated to exploring one New York human interest theme, with a series of connected stories being published Monday through Thursday. On Friday the team will curate the social conversation from the week and offer behind-the-scenes features such as Q&A’s with authors and featured personas. In other words, the editorial philosophy is slow but deep, with each story getting the space and time it needs to have an impact. Topics in the work include waterways, hustlers, sexual subcultures, and obscure pastimes.

“The type of storytelling that Narrative.ly believes in is nothing new; we’re innovative in the way we that make use of the digital tools and platforms at our disposal to re-energize the age-old craft of narrative storytelling, which is not happening enough at the local level,” Rosenberg said.

To support the project, Rosenberg has created a multi-revenue business model which will include a membership model, as well as exclusive sponsorship opportunities that allow brands to benefit from serial messaging.

The Future of Narrative.ly

In the future, Rosenberg who, by the way, never went to J-school but has an impressive history in the industry, hopes to expand Narrative.ly to other cities. In the meantime, however, he is enjoying living and working in Brooklyn while taking in the assortment of eccentric personalities, diverse communities, and cool adventures the city offers.

“When I wake up in the morning and walk out of the house, I’m often greeted by my elderly Italian neighbor smoking a cigar on on the corner. Steps away, I’m greeted by an Australian barista. And within just a few blocks, I go through Dominican, Hasidic Jewish, Black, and Hipster neighborhoods … Everywhere you go you see different people and different perspectives.”

Photos courtesy of Narrative.ly. Top to bottom: Eye glass collector, burlesque performer and stripper lounging.

Sandra Ordonez is a Web Astronaut who has been navigating the web since 1997. She provides digital strategy and community management consultation to a variety of clients. Currently, she serves as senior digital strategist to TopMBAConnect.com, and DigitalUNYC. She also serves as external communication lead to Joomla and heads up the NYC chapter of Girls in Tech. She is also the creator of Virgins of NY. You can reach her via Twitter @collaboracion.

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