A year after joining Allbritton Communications to help launch Washington DC-area hyperlocal news site TBD, Jim Brady is out as its GM. Apparently, Brady had differences with Publisher Robert Allbritton over the direction of the site and its business. TBD Editor Erik Wemple, who was previously editor of the Washington City Paper, will assume Brady’s responsibilities for the site.
The shakeup was first reported by Fishbowl DC.
Brady, who headed WashingtonPost.com, has held a number of high profile posts at media companies including AOL (NYSE: AOL). He also consulted for paidContent parent Guardian News & Media on its U.S. effort last year.
Allbritton wanted someone with a greater content background, as opposed to someone more tech focused like Brady, to run the site, according to Fishbowl DC, which cited unidentified sources. Meanwhile, Brady was reportedly angling for a greater role in determining TBD’s direction.
In a staff memo, Allbritton attributed the split to “stylistic differences” between him and Brady, whom he praised for his service. He said TBD will concentrate on “More hiring, more innovation in social media, community engagement, and above all more original reporting and creative story-telling.”
In a tweet, Brady dismissed the notion that he was somehow focused solely on the technology side. “For the record, I am both pro-aggregation and pro-content, despite what company e-mail said. No need for a Sophie’s choice,” Brady wrote.
Allbritton Communications launched TBD following the success it has enjoyed with Politico.com, which it started three years ago. The idea with TBD was to do for local news what Politico did for coverage of Capitol Hill. TBD debuted in August and concentrated on original reporting and aggregated content. In addition to technology, it was Brady who was the force behind the aggregation strategy. One of the things Allbritton seems to want is a greater focus on original content, while playing down aggregation a bit more, according to Fishbowl DC.
A year ago, in an interview with paidContent, Brady was asked about his concept of hyperlocal and how the then-unnamed site would approach it.
“I’m kind of terrified of the term hyperlocal,” he said. “I never know what that means anymore. It’s been used to describe everything from covering an entire county to covering a three-block area. The idea is that you’re in a world now where you can’t be all things to all people, even with the sizable staff that we’re going to hire. So you have to rely on people in the community to help surface information that’s relevant to people who live there.”
Staci adds: The idea that Jim Brady is too much tech and not enough content doesn’t match anything I’ve known about him over years of coverage. One aspect that made him stand out as a digital media exec is his understanding of how the two work together. That’s one reason he was keen to hire Wemple — he knew how important that kind of editorial leadership can be. I haven’t talked to Jim or Robert Allbritton about this yet, but I did spend time with both of them leading up to the launch. I didn’t see them celebrating a silver anniversary together but I never expected it could blow up this way, this fast.