He Said, She Said On WaPo's Local Online Experiment

This story was written by Rafat Ali.
An interesting case study in WSJ today about Washington Post's (NYSE: WPO) local site LoudounExtra.com, and its relative inability to gain an audience at the local level. It's been nearly a year since WaPo created its hyperlocal adjunct. As industry insiders know, last month, the site's chief architect, Rob Curley, left his post as Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive's VP, product development, to join the Las Vegas Sunand he took his team with him. Wapo says it is too early to judge based on this one experiment, and it will keep working on more local sites.

On reason for LoudounExtra's lack of success: the team of outsiders didn't do enough to familiarize itself with Loudoun County or engage its 270,000 residents, the story says. Curley said in the story that WaPo never gave it any major promotion from the main site or its homepage. The print edition also rarely made mention of its hyperlocal sibling. The separation between the two clearly squandered a chance to send traffic LoudonExtra's way.

But Jim Brady, exec editor of Washingtonpost.com, still plans to unveil a hyperlocal site for Fairfax County, Va. (Fairfaxextra.com), and is considering a number of others down the road, the story says. But he said the site needs better integration with Washingtonpost.com and more such user-generated content. We'll keep watching

By Rafat Ali