Above is a quick Compete.com chart comparing DC media outlets Wjla.com to TBD.com through December. See something notable here? Yeah, we do too. WJLA.com has slightly lower traffic than it did six months ago. But TBD has come out of nowhere to effectively triple the amount of traffic WJLA was getting. Which is pretty amazing, if you think about it – an effective rebranding greatly expanded Allbritton’s reach. (Both are effectively dwarfed by The Washington Post, but the Post has a national reach whereas the Allbritton-owned sites skew local.) And TBD’s editor Erik Wemple says January was the site’s best month ever. Despite this, though, WJLA effectively won the battle for media presence in Allbritton’s corporate structure. How did this happen?
- HoW TBD BECAME TBD Allbritton, which also owns Politico, said it planned to launch a local news site last year. They brought on Jim Brady, a former Washington Post and AOL guy, who crafted a vision of a local news brand that worked across the board – in broadcast, on cable TV and online. It launched six months ago to much industry attention for its HuffPo-like approach to local news.
- The visionary, out Unfortunately, corporate culture hurt the site right off the bat. Only a year after Brady started with Allbritton, he was out, a victim of a debate over aggregation (which TBD is really good at) vs. original reporting. “As we talked about the next phase of our growth, it seemed clear to Jim and I both that we had some stylistic differences,” wrote publisher Robert Allbritton.
- Did The TV Guys win? Now, just six months after TBD launched, it appears that the folks at WJLA control TBD’s destiny. The TBD TV component (on cable) is effectively going away. WJLA.com, the former site, is coming back alongside TBD. And WJLA’s general manager, Bill Lord, will be taking over as head of each of the local news entities. It appears the old-schoolers won. source
» Bloodletting on Twitter: Jim Brady, an active tweeter, has been ripping his old company over the last day or so over the decision to restructure. In his harshest tweet, he offered this sentiment: “At good companies, the people who resist necessary change are pushed aside. At bad companies, they are put in charge. RIP, the old TBD.” There is a degree of universal-ness to what he has to say, and many have been made their feelings known about the matter on Twitter today. While it’s certainly not the worst decision a company has made, TBD’s restructuring reflects a debate happening in newsrooms around the world: Is change needed? Or is the status quo more effective? Allbritton appears to have chosen the latter route, despite, you know, the chart above.