By paulgillin | August 9, 2010 - 3:00 am - Posted in Fake News

TBDKeep an eye on the launch of this week, because it could presage a new format for hyperlocal journalism. Launching initially in the Washington, D.C. market, the venture combines a staff of professional reporters with a network of 127 local bloggers. All in all, parent Allbritton Communications has put about 100 people on the project. The DCist provides the details: will feature 12 full-time reporters, including one editor focusing solely on the neighborhood beats of population centers in the District, Virginia and Maryland…The website will also feature original reporting on sports…entertainment, transportation and a big focus on weather. But the real highlight of TBD’s Web presence is its inclusionary ethos: TBD’s blog affiliate network, which currently boasts an impressive 127 well-thought-of blogs covering everything from small businesses to allergies in Montgomery County, will drive content. The affiliate network is designed to plug in the gaps that the reporters…cannot reach.”

TBD has been blogging about its prelaunch activities, underlining its commitment to inclusive journalism. For example, staffers will hold office hours in public locations and invite locals to stop by to brainstorm, critique and just chat. Editors are also asking readers to be an active part of the reporting process by correcting errors, adding facts and suggesting new dimensions for a story. They say that linking to original source material will be standard operating procedure and that they won’t even try to compete with local bloggers when the bloggers provide superior coverage. In fact, the blogger network appears to be essential to TBD’s value proposition.
Laura McGann thinks this venture will be worth watching, and she lists six reasons why on Nieman Journalism Lab. Among them is TBD’s almost obsessive attitude toward making the entire news reporting process transparent, social and interactive. She also likes the site’s commenting policy, which assigns the highest visibility to those commenters who have contributed the most value in the past. That approach should reduce comment spam and create an informal hierarchy of community contributors.

Patch logoAlso on the hyperlocal front, AOL’s Patch network has grown to 99 locations in nine states, and now employs 48 people in Massachusetts. Each Patch site focuses on a local community of between 15,000 and 50,000 people. Each region is covered by one full-time editor who writes and shoots video. Massachusetts has emerged as a kind of Petri dish for hyperlocal reporting, with new ventures from the Boston Globe and Gatehouse Media. AOL has reportedly poured $50 million into Patch.


Jeff Jarvis sums up a new reality of the media world that has big implications: “Once-abundant privacy is now scarce. Once-scarce publicness is now abundant.” Jarvis goes on to riff about what this means to media organizations. Having control of public awareness used to be the source of significant value, but now that it’s easy for anyone to go public with anything, the essential value of traditional media is lost, he says. “They are being beat by those who break up their control and hand it out for free,” he writes.

The flip side of this dynamic is that new value is now being created from “publicness.” Sites like and deliver value by harvesting public comments and selling advertising against them. A couple of HP scientists claim they can now predict the success of a movie based upon anticipatory chatter on Twitter. Looks like that could be the basis of another profit-making venture. Of course, there are still nasty unresolved issues, like who owns public information and how should the creators of that information be compensated? Jarvis doesn’t suggest solutions, but his fundamental point – that ownership of information is no longer a valuable asset – is well-argued. It’s also anathema to how media have traditionally operated. “Being public is about giving up control, which is the exact opposite of how media used to make their businesses,” he comments.

Cablevision Systems Corp. reported a sharp drop in second-quarter profit as debt service offset growth in its core video, Internet and phone services. The news was pretty positive overall, except for Newsday, which saw revenue fall 9.7% to $80.1 million on a 12.6% drop in ad revenue. Reports from the Washington Post Co. were more encouraging, however. Newspaper publishing revenue increased 2% in the second quarter of the year to $172.7 million, even though print advertising revenue at the Washington Post newspaper fell 6%. The big winner was display online advertising revenue, which grew 20%, and online classified revenue, which increased 5%.

Public Policy Matters, an information resource for journalists who cover public policy issues, is eliminating its subscription fee for journalists. The service, which delivers a daily summary of news, press releases and reports culled from more than 2,300 government and public policy-related websites, is converting from a for-profit enterprise to a tax-exempt organization. “It could take four months or more for the IRS to act,” wrote Editor Edward Zuckerman. “We are providing free subscriptions without waiting for the IRS to act, and we hope 1,000 or more journalists will have signed up by the time our tax-exempt status is confirmed. We believe that a foundation is more likely to give us favorable attention if we can claim,” a larger audience. Here’s the subscription link.
And Finally…

From the Associated Press:

KEY WEST, Fla. — A white-bearded 64-year-old Florida man won this year’s Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest, an event in Key West’s annual Hemingway Days festival that ended Sunday.

Charles Bicht, of Vero Beach, triumphed over 123 other entrants in the late Saturday night competition, a highlight of the annual celebration that honors the literary giant who lived and wrote in Key West throughout the 1930s.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for 12 years,” said Bicht, who credited his win to perseverance after 11 unsuccessful attempts. “Nothing can compare to it.”



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1 Comment

  1. August 24, 2010 @ 8:55 am

    […] into the are new “hyper-local” online news market are (“The insider source for everything local) and newcomers AOL’s Patch […]