Home > Citizen/Community Journalism, Local News > TBD.com – reinventing Hyperlocal

TBD.com – reinventing Hyperlocal

Revisiting Hyperlocal

Media companies – large and small – continue to look for ways to capture the huge market for local advertising (see here and here). Earlier this year, I posted a series of posts that surveyed the hyperlocal landscape – according to 5 core dimensions:

  • Local News/Journalism
  • Local Business/Commerce
  • Local Advertising
  • Local Community
  • HyperLocal Business Models
  • Enabling Technologies

I think I would now add one other dimension to this list:

  • Local, Places, Things, and Events of Interest to me

But providing hyperlocal news and information as a viable business model has proved a challenging task for mainstream media organizations, as reflected by this post from Sean Carlton from March 2010 titled Is ‘Hyperlocal’ just hype?.

Witness for example, the New York Times decision to pass its community-driven blog in New Jersey to Baristanet.

Does this point to the failure of Hyperlocal for mainstream media organizations? Not so says Jeff Jarvis. In his own words:

For the record, I do not count The New York Times ending its New Jersey version of The Local and passing over its readers to Baristanet as a failure. The idea that The Times could have owned and run a blog with a journalist in every town and neighborhood in New York — let alone America — simply didn’t scale. The more important skill for The Times to learn is working with networks of independent entrepreneurs who own and run their own local enterprises.

Enter TBD.com

Enter TBD.com

TBD.com is a local/community newsite based in Washington DC that fully integrates social media tools and community into the newsgathering process. I borrowed those words from an excellent article by Vadim Lavrusik’s excellent review: TBD.com Takes a Community-Driven Approach to Newsgathering.

As Lavrusik points out, what most differentiates TBD.com is its network of local bloggers – 127 and counting – that will provide content and coverage for its site. This phenomenon of incoporating the local community and bloggers as fundamental participants in the news gathering process is sometimes referred to as Community Journalism – and it represents a profound change to how news is generated and reported in our communities.

Jeff Jarvis, Matthew Ingram, and Newsonomics also covered the launch of TBD.com, and had interesting insights to share.

So who’s behind TBD.com?

Just a few familiar names. TBD.com is led by Community Engagement Director Steve Buttry. Obviously this role is a highly strategic one, but it’s not like Buttry hasn’t thought about community engagement!

Equally interesting is the involvement of GrowthSpur. GrowthSpur will work with TBD.com to develop new business models around local news, content, and advertising.

Note that GrowthSpur’s other media partner is the Journal Register, John Paton’s company, and the instigator of the Ben Franklin project.

Location, Mobile, Video, and Social Media

All four will be key pillars of TBD.com’s strategy for sharing and delivering news and information to their communities.

In Summary …

With TBD.com, we’re seeing nothing short of a bold new attempt to reinvent local media – in terms of content, format, organization, and process. It should be an interesting experiment to follow.


  1. October 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Actually TotalPaas (http://totalpaas.com) has been doing this since early 2009. TotalPaas is a community-driven approach to hyper-local media, with integrated social media tools. In fact, TotalPaas has gone one step further by integrating hyper-local social networking into the mix. You can see the platform in action on our nation-wide hyper-local social hub http://www.paasgo.com.

  2. October 4, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks Randy, I’ll check out the links you provided.

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