Perhaps you have already been assigned a beat neighborhood, or a community district to cover, and are not sure exactly what a community district is, or where your beat is located? Here are some ways to start discovering your new beat.
Scoping Out Your Beat is a guide with links to some crucial resources, including the Department of City Planning website (which includes Community District Profiles), and the Gotham Gazette’s Community Gazettes section (note that Gotham Gazette uses council district, rather than community district, to organize its site.
Your professor may have mentioned some books available in the Journalism Library, called Community District Needs. These books are published annually by the Department of City Planning, and there is one volume per borough. Columbia University Libraries has multiple copies on campus, including the most recent in the Journalism Library reference collection.
Please note that the community district profiles posted on the Department of City Planning website include almost all of the information in the books. What’s missing from the website? The detailed memo from each community board, which spells out what each district needs from the City in terms of improvements and funding. So, if you are going to take a look at the Community District Needs books at the library, no need to photocopy the entire section. Just photocopy the memo, and you can get the rest online!