TBD.com was launched as a metro news and culture site in August last year by Allbritton Communications, which also owns Politico and local TV network WJLA.
The site had a team of 23 in-house journalists and a network of 129 community bloggers covering neighbourhoods across the city.
According to an Associated Press report published on TBD.com, staff were told yesterday that the site would now concentrate on arts and entertainment and would stop most of its general news and sports coverage.
Some staff will be able to transfer to sister site WJLA.com, while others have been invited to reapply for just eight jobs on TBD.com
The Washington City Paper says the launch was praised within the industry but "had a harder time becoming a must-read for ordinary news consumers". Here in the UK it was hailed by some journalists as an inspiration for other hyperlocal news publishers.
According to internal figures seen by the Washington Post, TBD.com attracted 1.5 million unique users in January and was "thriving" but it struggled to turn this traffic into local advertising revenue and cover its costs.
In November last year, the site's general manger Jim Brady (formerly executive editor at Washingtonpost.com) resigned over "stylistic differences" with publisher Robert Allbritton.
Brady told the City Paper yesterday: "I still have concerns about whether it’s going to exist at all in a year.
"It was pretty publicly stated when we started that we had a three to five year runway. There's nothing that's happened since we launched that would suggest the massive changes that are being made are really necessary."
One of the laid-off staff, arts and entertainment editor Andrew Beaujon, told the Washington Examiner: "The idea when we started was that we were really going to be rethinking local news.
"We were told that [Allbritton] was in this for three to five years. Fair enough if we're not making money, but no one would've come if they had known we had a six-month chance."
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