“Internal shift” for hyper-local D.C. site's operations includes reverting to TV station brands
TBD.com, the six-month-old hyperlocal website that launched with an aggressive plan to change the face of local news in Washington, D.C., is dealing with some changes of its own.
"We have some internal changes," the site announced on its Twitter feed. "We’ll continue as local news site — with no staff cuts — soon joined by WJLA.com."
The "internal changes" come three months after Jim Brady, the site's founding editor and former executive editor of the Washington Post, left TBD over "stylistic differences" between Brady and publisher Robert Allbritton.
Bill Lord station manager of WJLA-TV — a local television station also owned by Allbritton Communications — is assuming control of all of Allbritton's media properties, including TBD.com and Newschannel 8, which had been rebranded "TBD TV," according to the Washington Post. TBD.com editor-in-chief Erik Wemple will remain, with Lord above him. Newschannel 8 will revert back to its original brand name, and WJLA's web content — which had been part of TBD.com — will return to WJLA.com.
The move is essentially an admission by Allbritton that its attempt to use TBD as the driver of all of its media content was not working out.
"The TV stations never bought into the concept," a source close to the company told TheWrap. "The sales people didn't get it," linking to competitors was frowned upon and the TBD brand was rarely mentioned on the air, the source said.
A representative for Allbritton did not return a request for comment. And the TBD.com Twitter feed did not elaborate further. ("It's all internal restructuring & the site isn't going away," read one of its responses to a concerned follower. "We still have a news site to update today, with actual news.")
But Brady himself had a lot to say about the changes on his own Twitter feed.
"The last 24 hours have been nothing but bad news," Brady wrote. "At good companies, the people who resist necessary change are pushed aside. At bad companies, they are put in charge. RIP, the old TBD."
He added: "I love my @TBD peeps, but the "everything will be OK" tweet does not reflect how people feel. They can't say it, but I can. Not good news. Sadly, TBD's six-month birthday party ended up working out as well as Carrie's trip to the prom."
Brady apparently clashed with Allbritton shortly after the site launched.
"As we talked about the next phase of our growth, it seemed clear to Jim and I both that we had some stylistic differences," Allbritton wrote in a memo to staffers last November. "So we decided to shake hands and go in different directions."