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Dec. 6, 2016, 12:35 p.m.

The local news site Raleigh Agenda said on Monday that it was shutting down after just four months of operation. The site was the second North Carolina local news operation from the startup behind the Charlotte Agenda.

“Alas, the Charlotte-based owner of the Raleigh Agenda couldn’t figure out a sustainable business model for this market. Stories about city council and chicken sandwiches don’t really fund themselves,” Raleigh Agenda editor-in-chief Grayson Haver Currin wrote in a post announcing the closure.

Currin and reporter Jane Porter, the site’s two staffers, were laid off. Currin said that they were given “pretty nice severance packages” (and got to keep their laptops).

In an email, Agenda cofounder and publisher Ted Wiliams said he wouldn’t comment further beyond Currin’s post. “It’s personally and professionally painful and disappointing for me to have been wrong, let teammates down, and failed. Grayson Haver Currin and Jane Porter are very talented, and I loved working with them,” Williams said.

The Charlotte Agenda launched in 2015 as one of a series of local news sites across the country aimed at the growing number of young professionals in cities. (Williams previously launched a similar site that was owned by The Charlotte Observer.)

In August, Williams told the Lab that the site was profitable and on track to bring in $850,000 in revenue this year, with about 85 percent of that coming through display advertising and sponsorships.

When we spoke in May before the Raleigh site’s launch, Williams told me that he hoped to attract statewide advertisers for both the Charlotte and Raleigh sites. He said he expected the Raleigh site to grow slowly, adding that the initial goals were to grow an audience and add newsletter subscribers.

“We are okay having little to no revenue in Raleigh for the remainder of the year, but the goal is very similar to what we did in Charlotte: to launch a lean digital operation, offset some of the startup expenses with revenue from day one, and then build that over time,” Williams said at the time.

The Agenda is just one of a handful of millennial-focused local news sites that have attempted to move into new markets this year. WhereBy.Us, the company that launched Miami’s New Tropic, expanded to Seattle this fall with The Evergrey, and Jim Brady debuted The Incline in Pittsburgh, a sister site to Philadelphia’s Billy Penn.

In his post, Currin said he could tell that the Raleigh Agenda’s closure was imminent and that he’s working on plans to launch another attempt at a local publication in Raleigh.

“I can say, though, that having seen the writing on the wall during the last several weeks, I’ve already started talks with a dream team of partners to build a locally owned local media source,” Currin wrote. “It will be a while before it happens, but I hope it does.”

Photo of Raleigh by NCDOTcommunications used under a Creative Commons License.

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