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ThePortlander goes national, global

Way back in January, it looked like 2010 would shape up to be the Year of the Journalism Startup. A few months later, we’re struggling to keep up with all the developing independent news projects and startup companies.

The latest to branch out is called The Daily Globe. It started in Portland less than a year ago as The Portlander and has quickly grown and expanded. Founder Jeremiah Kastner tells a story that will make most entrepreneurial journalists drool.

“I was leading the charge with and starting to see success with it. Not long after (the site launched), I was approached by an investor who liked what I was doing and asked me the simple question ‘what could you do if you had some money behind it.’ After almost three months of building upon the idea of my grand vision for a news platform, I landed a seed round of funding and have been busy since December building out my vision.”

Kastner has taken the concept of ThePortlander and launched it in over 30 cities and three countries and across 30 topic areas (parenting, skiing, dogs, tea, etc.). The concept is familiar – pull stories of interest from multiple sources and create community around that aggregation, linking to the original stories, of course.

“The goal is to build out ThePortlander in every major city on the planet,” Kaster told me via email. “The platform we have built is pretty amazing and we are able to build complete news sites in almost real time as well as deliver the news to people in a stream on the platform where they receive most of their news (Twitter, Facebook, etc).”

The initial public launch came on May 1 and the sites have already served almost 500,000 page views and are on track to serve over 1 million page views a month in the next 90 days. Kastner says he has plans for a mobile news platform and will be launching an iPhone app and iPAd app “sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.”

This is a crowded field already, of course. Topix has been here for years and, more recently, algorithm-driven competition has come from Outside.In, Everyblock and Fwix. Add in freelancer-driven sites like Examiner and Patch (plus traditional local media sites) and you get the sense that supply is far outstripping demand for local news. While that’s good for readers, it’s could depress ad rates even further, which isn’t good for publishers.

Still, it’s great to see more attempts at innovation in local rather than less. Maybe the supply is simply catching up to the demand after decades of falling short. If that’s the case, there could be room for even more players in the field of local news. I’m confident we will see more … soon.

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