Billy Penn launches desktop, mobile sites

October 22, 2014

Billy Penn

Jim Brady’s new local-news startup, Billy Penn, launched Wednesday, carrying a note saying its site is still in beta.

The homepage currently features Philadelphia stories mostly drawn from other news outlets, although there are two stories reported by Billy Penn reporters and curators.

The homepage of Billy Penn's desktop site.

The homepage of Billy Penn’s desktop site.

Although the site debuted Wednesday, Billy Penn has been building a following on email and social media in advance of the launch. The news organization has been on Twitter and Facebook for a couple months and has been delivering a weekday newsletter to subscribers for the past five weeks, according to an introductory letter from Billy Penn Editor Chris Krewson and Brady.

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The letter also lays out a few fundamental guiding principles for the site. Among them: the staff will link out to stories rather than over-aggregating the work of others; the site will allow audience members to track specific stories using a “follow” button that will send out relevant email alerts; and that it will eschew comments for the time being (“It’s our opinion that interaction is moving into a ‘post-comments’ period”). The site’s advertising section notes that Billy Penn will offer native advertising as well as “in moment” ads and themed sponsorships.

This is Brady’s second attempt at starting up a local news site in a large metropolitan city. He presided over the creation of TBD in 2010, but that venture did not last very long.