The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large
TBD hyperlocal site’s traffic pops up during hostage crisis at Discovery Channel’s headquarters

imageTBD’s new hyperlocal Web site for the D.C. area is no great shakes so far in the visitor count department, but it’s too early to pass judgment. That’s what I wrote last month.

Well, TBD is still a long way from seriously threatening the Washington Post’s  local supremacy after just a few weeks, but as you can see from the Alexa chart below, the site enjoyed a major pop in traffic from the hostage crisis at the Discovery Channel’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. It peaked at .08 percent or more of the global Net traffic Alexa measured. The previous peak was .02 percent.

imageTBD pulled out the stops on coverage, and the Post itself was picking up a video feed. The result was what one self-described journalism geek—J grad student Justin Karp—hailed on Twitter as a “CNN/Gulf War moment.”

How many of the new visitors will TBD keep? Once again, the operative words are “too early to say.” Also, please note the limitations of Alexa as a precise measurement tool—I’d love to have stats directly from TBD itself.

TBD continues to be newsy and lively—but short on suburban coverage that I think it’ll need to fly, long term. The site still isn’t doing justice to Virginia and to the kind of daytime audience following WJLA-TV and the television side of TBD, formerly called NewsChannel 8. The young urban trendies TBD is aiming for are too busy on the job during the day. Perhaps as mobile technology improves and on-demand grows, this TV-Web gap won’t be as troublesome.

A related problem, for now, is that TBD isn’t hyperlocal enough. I don’t see that many links pertaining to my immediate surroundings here in Alexandria’s Seminary Road area, and there is no menus that lets me drill precisely down to my neighborhood—the search approach has its limits. Menus naming specific neighbors, with maps to go along, would provide convenience and clarity to help people customize TBD beyond the ZIP code level. That in itself won’t automatically populate TBD with genuinely hyperlocal links and in fact might remind alert some visitors about TBD’s limitations. Still, as I see it, menus are a “must,” and in fact TBD Community Engagement Director Steve Buttry tells me they’re under consideration. Do it!

Update, September 5: I replaced “after” with “during” in the headline since the latter is more precise. May the new visitors hang around!

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2 Comments to “TBD hyperlocal site’s traffic pops up during hostage crisis at Discovery Channel’s headquarters”

  1. Steve Buttry says:

    Thanks for noticing the Discovery Channel coverage, which did significantly boost our traffic. As for what we’re considering, here’s what I said in my email to you: “We’re considering lots of things, David. I don’t want to comment on specific ideas we’re considering, because we won’t be doing them all. But we’ve said all along that we’re going to be a work in progress. Stay tuned …”

  2. David Rothman says:

    Well, congrats on the Alexa numbers and the coverage itself. As for “in progress”–sure: the name is TBD, after all. Both in terms of site development and treatment of individual stories, it is highly appropriate. Good luck. David

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