TBC.com could be an inspiring approach to hyperlocal news

I nosed around the newly-launched TBD.com website today, and came away a bit of a fan-girl.
TBD, which is from the same brains as Politico, is a real foray into hyperlocal journalism and could just be one of the models the rest of us in mainstream media end up emulating.

It offers local news and community information from Metropolitan Washington DC, has reporters, editors, producers, and ‘community-outreach specialists’ (a  new one on me) to produce original journalism, curate news from other media – mainstream and independent (I’m including local bloggers in independent media; after all, they’re creating content) and engage audiences. 

There’s a detailed review of the site and its genesis on the Huffington Post (see the links at the bottom of this) but I don’t agree with their idea that journalists will be watching this with concern. I think a lot of us will be looking at it and thinking ‘that’s exactly what we need to do’. Ultimately, it could inspire better things.

It’s very new but already I really like this site, both from the point of view of a journalist and that of a user; it’s how I think local news company websites should aim to operate. I can certainly understand why US industry watchers say the Washington Post is eyeballing it. 

I like it as a journalist because:

  • It’s seriously packed with news, features and information
  • It’s packed with news happening right now (truly  – the homepage splash changed every time I reloaded the page)
  • It updates constantly
  • It has loads of sources of information – both from TBD staffers, mainstream media, social networks, bloggers and users
  • It’s an active site – doesn’t rely on feeds/UGC
  • It ‘gets’ hyperlocal
  • It does live fact-checking

I like it as a user because:

  • It’s easy – news, features, sport and essentials. Plus a great site map.
  • No flashing ads, no massive rollovers, no banners with tiny close signs
  • Pithy articles, eye catching video, good images
  • It lets me choose my local news
  • Live fact-checking (yes, its still great)
  • Excellent commuter information
  • I feel involved
  • It’s thought about what mobile apps users might value

In fact, the more I wandered around the site the more I found to like. It doesn’t have a big news corporation feel to it, and maybe that’s what’s so attractive. It offers the slick, polished set up of a MSM company without feeling unwieldy and over-designed. I think the residents of Metropolitan Washington DC are very lucky.

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