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HuffPost DC joins Washington’s crowded local news market

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Washington’s crowded local news market got a new entrant Thursday: HuffPost DC, an offshoot of the news and commentary site that will focus on the metropolitan area.

HuffPost DC was launched with stories about potential commuting delays caused by the renovation of a Metro escalator at Dupont Circle next year, problems at local animal shelters and reaction to an ongoing criminal investigation of suspected gang activity at a shopping center in Falls Church.

HuffPost DC will feature original reporting and commentary in addition to material compiled by other news sources. A story about the Eden Center shopping mall in Falls Church, for example, contains material from an article in Thursday’s Washington Post and from Falls Church Patch. (which is owned by AOL, as is the Huffington Post) is a national network of hundreds of “hyperlocal” news sites that cover small parts of large metropolitan areas.

Washington is the sixth metropolitan area with a local HuffPost site; the others are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Denver and San Francisco.

The launch of HuffPost DC comes a little more than a year after the introduction of, a digital local news venture started by Allbritton Communications, the Arlington County-based parent of WJLA (Channel 7), and the Politico newspaper. Despite strong financial backing, TBD has had a difficult time finding its footing, and it underwent a series of management changes and staff cutbacks a few months after its launch.

The Washington area is one of the most intensely covered regions in the country, with multiple print, digital, broadcast and cable news organizations.

In an introductory column, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington said that the Washington site will offer coverage of the “glittering aspects” of the city — “from fundraisers, food, and fashion to sports, business, culture, and real estate” — but won’t ignore the city’s poverty and social problems.

“When we look at Washington — really look at it, beyond the grand city of popular imagination — we see a city of incredible contrasts,” she wrote. “Often lost in the swirl of D.C. politics are communities that grapple daily with poverty and the lasting effects of discrimination and segregation, paying the price for D.C.’s distorted public image that omits huge numbers of the city’s residents, with sometimes tragic consequences.”

Huffington launched her career as a political commentator in the early 1990s while living in Washington during her marriage to former U.S. representative Michael Huffington (R-Calif.).

She founded Huffington Post in 2005, turning it into one of the few financially successful news start-ups on the Internet. AOL, formerly known as America Online and once headquartered in Dulles, bought the site from Huffington and a group of investors for $315 million in February. At the time, it named Huffington to oversee its portfolio of Web sites, including Patch, TechCrunch, Moviefone and MapQuest.

HuffPost DC’s editor is Michael Grass, co-founder of the DCist news blog, who has also worked for Roll Call, The Washington Post-owned Express newspaper and Washington City Paper.

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