Tuesday, November 9, 2010

get local...please

Maybe it's because I'm leaving work in the middle of the night now at 5 pm, but I seem to be more angry than usual. My head is hotter. My proverbial fuse is shorter, or, as Google translator would say when translated from English to Hungarian to Finnish to Arabic to Vietnamese back to English, "this is still less than ideal." OK.

But seriously. I'm just annoyed -- at the dark, at the cold, but mostly, I think, at the "local" media. When did "local" turn into "outer suburbs" in the DC? I mean, really, it's infuriating when the Post's local opinion columnists write about some stupid sh*t in Gaithersburg, or, as Google translator would say when translated from English to Hungarian to Finnish to Arabic to Vietnamese back to English, "Gaithersburg." (Nice!) And it's even more maddening when so-called "hyperlocal" outlets make the top fold of their front e-page more about Virginia's 11th District than the actual District of Columbia.

The overblown media battle of Fimian and Connelly aside (which, by the way, is taking place in exurbs of Virginia and not even the suburbs), TBD's front page this morning (note: it's since changed) hardly applied to me...or, really, anyone who resides inside the District lines of Washington. Only two (2!) stories out of eleven (11!) were actually about DC. Metro terror and crime on 14th Street. Not to mention, those two stories weren't even written by TBD bloggers/reporters...

TBD's Maryland and Virginia coverage, on the other hand, seems to be superb. If only I was looking for news that didn't apply to my life as a DC resident...

And while I hate to give out free advice, especially since I recently got paid $70 per hour for my consulting skills (suckers!), I'm going to make like a communist right now and give these sites a hand out coupled with a soul-crushing message:

You need to add more filters to your site, otherwise, you're irrelevant. Supposedly, TBD does that, but judging from the above screenshot as viewed by this 20005 resident this morning, their sh*t be broke. I want my front page story on my local news site to actually be local. And I want the other 10 to be the same way. Likewise, I want the Washington Post to hire a someone who understands life in the District proper (Gaithersburg doesn't count), someone who can write a relevant local column for the twenty- and thirtysomethings -- the age groups that compose the biggest chunks of the population here. I know of at least one woman who would be a great addition to the Post's editorial team. And she only charges $70 per hour!

Look Read, I'm not asking for a news outlet to tailor all their coverage to only those subjects I find relevant. (If that were the case, the only things these outlets would need to cover are Internet memes and their own suckage). All I'm saying to these guys is to follow through with what's been promised -- "local" and "hyperlocal" news. (In the latter case, then, even Arlington, which is closer to where I live than many other DC neighborhoods, wouldn't count.) Either hire more reporters to cover undercovered areas (um, like Washington, DC!) or insert a better filter into your aggregator to tailor the front page to the individual reader. If that means all my stories on TBD come from elsewhere, then so be it. If that means the Washington Post needs to hire me as an editorialist and pay me an exorbitant salary, then so be that too. Remember, it's all for the greater good. And my wallet.


Jeff Sonderman said...

I appreciate the thoughts. I can at least address the TBD side of this post.

To get all the local news for the place(s) you care about, you want the Community News page: http://my.tbd.com/news/community/

The top stories at the top of the TBD home page are top stories of interest across the entire metro region. They aren't geographically filtered, though there is the "Near You" section just below them that contains the most recent stories just for your area.

Anonymous said...

Local never "turned into" the outer burbs, it always has been.

Regardless of all the dying medium aspects, how many subscribers and/or readers does the post have in DC, and how many in the suburbs? I don't think it's a reach to say DC likely pales in comparison.

Marissa said...


I think you missed the point of what I was getting at. I'm not talking about what you need to scroll to or click through -- that's not what people see first. One should not have to type in extra backslashes to get the news that TBD should be delivering on Page 1, depending on the user.

I'm saying, why not allow your readers to set up filters, like you can do on Facebook, Twitter and a number of other social media sites? Why not make the whole site filter-able? Especially, since that was what TBD was hyped to be before it launched. It was supposed to be "hyperlocal," no? I took that to mean that I'd be able to avoid the "general interest" stories that the Post favors, that I and most others don't care about. TBD was supposed to fill a gap. Right now, it's not doing much at all... I guarantee you anyone reading your site in Mclean wants to be able to go to tbd.com to read about different stuff than someone in Silver Spring or someone in the District. I'm just saying, the main page should never be the least interesting part of a site...


I disagree with your first sentence. Stories about the exurbs, such as the Petula's traffic-cam editorial, belong in papers like the Gaithersburg Gazette (gazette.net). The local coverage of the Washington Post should concentrate on happenings in DC.

Perhaps the reason the Post has fewer subscribers in the District proper is because of its lack of relevant coverage for people in the District.

Anonymous said...

I can understand being upset at lack of DC proper coverage, but I think your complaints regarding local coverage of the suburbs is a bit misguided.

You can argue that local stories about the suburbs belong in their local papers, and that's fine. But it doesn't change the fact that the Washington Post is the local paper for a much larger and more populous area than just the district.

I'm not arguing against more coverage of local DC happenings, I just think your complaint of having less suburban coverage is somewhat misguided.

Based on your posts you'd just be upset with the Post's coverage of local events anyway. They wouldn't be hip enough, or shamble-riffic, or whatever else sucks about the Post.

Whatever, less bitching about the post, more funny. Chop chop!

Jeff Sonderman said...

Thanks, I'll try to explain that a little better.

There was certainly a lot of hype about a lot of things leading up to the TBD launch, and the labeling that it would be a "hyperlocal" site was one of the things that was a bit mistaken. It's not the way people here described it, but the way a lot of people writing about the site plans tried to categorize it.

Really what TBD has always set out to be is a combination of regional and hyperlocal. We try to have all the major breaking stories that are the top news across the region, and we try to have the smallest, most locally relevant neighborhood news from the place you live. Both of those are important, and useful services.

I see your idea that perhaps the user experience should simply lead with the localized, filterable news that we do have on the Community News section, instead of leading with general news. Striking that balance is a judgment call and something I'm sure we'll continue to reevaluate. It's only been three months so far, we have a lot of change and growth ahead and nothing is set in stone.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved your blog. However, you recently have been moving away from the relevant and witty critiques of local goings-on we've come to expect, to just straight-up complaining.
And where's the evidence to back up your analysis? Jeff made a great point that it wasn't TBD who claimed hyperlocalness. Whoops!
I agree with the previous Anon. Bring back the funny!

FoggyDew said...

Maybe it made the top of the list because it's about two people competing for a job in the 20001. Yanno, the heart of the District.

You are probably unique among your age group in even caring about what the WaPo writes. As anon pointed out, at least when it comes to the WaPo (I won't make excuses for the web, they should be able to filter that shit), there are about two and a half times as many people who live in Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax than who live in D.C. Fairfax alone is almost twice as populous as the District - hey, wouldn't that actually make D.C. an exurb of Fairfax. Sure NoVa is physically larger, but as you should know from working in the business, when you have 1.5 million potential readers, you cover what is important to them. It's a huge subscriber area, and since "The Washington-area Post" would look a little silly on the masthead they'll probably just stick with what they've got.

Anonymous said...

TBD is kinda like a sold out version of BYT. However TBD isn't the problem. It's the people that support yuppie dickbag nonsense.

Yes TBD needs filters. Hope they built their site on something awesome like Drupal, cuz that shit would take abt 10mins to get cooking.

The also need to fix their rss feeds.

Marissa said...

Thanks for your comments and criticisms. There will be some changes to this blog coming soon. In the meantime, I'll be going dark probably for at least another week.


Anonymous said...

You are TEARING ME APART, marissa with this blogging blackout!!!

-obviously anonymously Bri

patrick b said...



ps. read my new blogz

WaPo Blo said...

Let's see:

1) Write "The Anti DC" and complain about life in DC for several years.

2) Finally leave DC and live life in accordance with what is in your head and in your heart.

3) Return to DC and resume whining about it on "The Anti DC".

Did you know that M@ did essentially the same thing? Yep, he left and then came back. Looks like you and M@ are Soul Pancakes!

Fred said...

Since DC is composed of "myopic twits" and people who can't read, the Washington Post would be wise to rename itself the Montgomery County Post...