@ pC2011: Don’t Read Too Much Into TBD’s Failure

The consensus among ‘local’ industry panelists at our paidContent 2011 conference: TBD.com’s recent very high-profile failure is not reflective of the state of the local market.

“What we saw there was a company that didn’t really know what was happening so they backed off,” said *Journal Register* CEO John Paton. Jon Brod, president of AOL’s local and mapping business, said he wouldn’t “apply too many learnings” from what happened: “You need to be committed to this business. Local comes down to execution.”

Some other highlights from the discussion:

Tablets: None of the panelists seemed to think there was a big opportunity in tablets for local players. Paton called it a “thin, narrow (revenue) stream which may or may not be profitable.” Brod said it was “just another distribution point.” Bay Citizen CEO Lisa Frazier said it was “very important for local (sites) to be on those devices,” although “it may or may not be a savior.”

Quality: There was a general sense that the quality of local journalism had dropped over the last decade because of the collapse of the newspaper industry. “Is there any doubt?” Paton asked. Carll Tucker, CEO of Main Street Connect, called it a “dismal decade for newspapers.”