I planned a long post back in mid-August on competition between large companies like AOL’s Patch and homegrown local news sites for MediaShift or this site. For clarity and context, I called Steve Buttry, director of community engagement for TBD.com, a local news site in Washington, D.C., financed by Albritton. Buttry was a bit busy with a launch, but he took the time to talk, and his wise words soothed angst.
Then I got derailed by some other work. So as the buzz heats up again about competition in local online news, I’m dumping his words out of my notebook. I told Buttry I wouldn’t waste them, and they’ll do more good out here:
“I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game, especially if media companies are smart enough to expand beyond advertising and start trying to become a digital marketplace for the community.”
AOL’s Patch is launching several sites in the Washington, D.C., area.
“I think every competitor is a potential collaborator or customer (and I include the Washington Post in that statement, not just Patch).”
Buttry said TBD will aggregate information from the two existing local Patch sites from the start, as TBD aggregates from other sources throughout the metro area.
“Clearly there is some fighting and dying going on,” he said about new business models for news and niche sites. “But I don’t see media competition as a fight to the death. Look at how mobile communication has grown from its tiny (and competitive) start. Lots of fighting and dying in the process, but the market is exponentially bigger than it was a couple decades ago. I think we have plenty of room to grow the market for community media.”
Context: The Internet will likely overtake newspapers as the second largest U.S. advertising medium in the coming year, according to a June report by PricewatershouseCooper, reported at the Wall Street Journal’s Digits.