Group plans news website as Igou sells nooga domain

Group plans news website as Igou sells nooga domain

January 19th, 2011 in Businesstopstory

One of the founders of Chattanooga's fastest-growing transportation company is expanding into communications by buying a Chattanooga Internet news site.

Barry Large, who co-founded Access America Transport Inc., says the new site could "transform the way people in our area gather their news, express their opinions and plan their weekends."

Large said Tuesday he is the majority owner in a group that acquired the Internet domain name nooga.com in November from Chattanooga businessman Rick Igou.

The news site was started in 1999 by Igou, a former television show host and skating rink owner who continues to operate another website - newsandbull.com - from the basement of his Chattanooga residence.

After struggling to keep the news site active and local in recent years, Igou said he agreed to sell the domain name when the founders of Access America approached him with what he said was an attractive offer.

Although the nooga.com site is inactive, Large said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday that he plans to launch a news site "that will provide quality daily content focusing on local business, politics and entertainment in the Chattanooga area."

"Nooga.com will go live in the near future, featuring an impressive array of writers and contributors from around the Scenic City,"

Large said he is putting the staff together.

The entrepreneur, who founded Access America Transport Inc. in 2002 along with Ted Alling, said he grew up reading newspapers, and having a news outlet "is a dream come true."

Such websites have had mixed results, according to Betsy Alderman, a UTC professor of communications.

"If you have a unique product, whether it is news and anything else, and you promote it properly, you have a chance of being very successful," she said. "But with audiences so fragmented these days and so many sites and traditional media to go to for news, it's very difficult to build the core audience you need and to get the advertisers required to support these sites. The verdict is still out on a lot of these ventures."

Igou said he did well with nooga.com for the first seven years of his venture, but when the competition improved and the economy soured, he had to give up most of the local news posts. At its peak, Igou said, nooga.com attracted about 7,000 unique visitors a day.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.