After nearly a year, Allbritton Communications’ “Politico for local news” site, TBD.com, is ready to fully launch in the next few days. In a conference call, executives discussed the creation of a blogger network, where TBD has already linked up 127 local blogs. Robert Allbritton also spoke with our own Staci D. Kramer about the new venture. In addition to sharing content, the site and its network will also share ad sales. “We plan to be a one-stop shop for local news,” said Jim Brady, who was editor of WashingtonPost.com and was hired last year to help create the new site. The blog network will operate alongside of the combined efforts the Washington, DC area TV station sites, WJLA.com and News8.net.
The site will also have a dozen reporters covering all the usual local news from sports to local politics to arts. “We have 5.3 million people, so we have a hybrid approach in terms of thematic coverage and reporting on specific neighborhoods,” said Erik Wemple, who previously edited the weekly Washington City Paper and is running editorial operations for TBD.
The coverage will mostly be centered on the denser population areas of the DC area. One area that might not get as much attention initially is Loudoun, the Virginia suburb where WaPo had tried its hyperlocal experiment until it shut it down last August.
TBD will also heavily integrate Foursquare and Twitter into its content. The use of those social media tools is increasingly common, but it goes to TBD’s central idea: to pull in content from as many places as possible. Considering that it has a limited staff compared to most newspapers, the company vows to concentrate on doing a few things well and linking to its partners. As Wemple said of the plans to work with its blog network, “We’re not going to take your content and just post it to our site. We’re going to link to you. If we cover the same story, we’ll see who has the best take.”
One big difference is that TBD’s main PC-based site will be different from its mobile face. “Too many sites simply put their regular website online, but we realize that people are looking for something else when they’re on the go,” Brady said. Mobile users want more utility, like weather information, as opposed to just articles. The site will have apps for iPhone and Android within the next few days.
During the Q&A, executives explained that TBD ad sales staff will work with bloggers on selling ads and is working with an outside company to offer ad sales training to its blog partners.
Ads will not be sold on a straight CPM basis, and TBD will share 35 percent of the revenues with its partners, though TBD is taking on the expense. CPMS will be based on traffic and pageviews. They’ve set a minimum CPM, but there’s “no set ceiling” in terms of what they will charge.