All eyes are on TBD

TBD logo“We’re TBD, a site whose development is always uncertain, forever under construction.” With those words from Editor Erik Wemple, TBD.com — a long-awaited experiment in online Washington D.C. local news from Allbritton Communications — launched in the wee hours of this morning.

Wemple wrote that rather than fix every bug, they decided to launch the site anyway. “Sculpting this product in plain view of users, we figured, would present a refreshing break from the tradition of launch perfectionism.” Nice. I like it already.

Much has been written about this site (e.g. here), because its owners have had enormous success with Politico.com, a breakthrough attempt at investigative political reporting online. If Allbritton could do it with politics, the thinking goes, they might be able to do it with local news.

The site has a spartan look that I like, but the thing that stands out most so far is its full-feed RSS. This is how distributed content gets distributed and how media companies will make money in the future. I applaud this decision and look forward to seeing what they do with it.

My advice to Allbritton is to let the flow of that feed become its home page, for while each story on the home page is presented with a time stamp, real time presentation is the thing.

I’m not convinced it will be “the future of local news,” as some have suggested, but since they’re beginning with a clean slate, it’ll certainly be interesting to watch.

As Leslie Nielsen’s character in the movie Airplane said while sticking his head in the cockpit door, “I just want to say good luck. We’re all counting on you.”

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