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TBD.com Why a media startup fell short

The February downsizing of TBD.com, the much-hyped local-news venture, elicited a bit of schadenfreude from journalist types (including us). Surely, this was conclusive proof that the pretensions of hyperlocal journalism were empty, that signing up unpaid neighborhood bloggers alongside professional reporters was stupid, and that Steve Buttry—the “community engagement” specialist whose preachy observations from future-of-journalism gabfests made him the site’s most irritating voice—would never tweet again. Alas, no. Eyewitnesses point to a more prosaic cause: Allbritton Communications'  old-school sales staff, who still make most of their money from corporate cousin WJLA-TV, couldn’t figure out how to sell enough web ads. Meantime, the intrepid Buttry has landed a gig at social media-happy Journal Register Co. He recently tweeted about flying to Toronto to train Canadians in his journalistic approach.

Correction: This piece originally misspelled the name of Allbritton Communications.

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