Well, it's about time!

The Washington Post Co. (NYSE: WPO) announced this week the debut -- or, perhaps less dramatically, the rebranding -- of the online component for what's arguably one of the most important parts of its flagship publication. The online local section is reemerging as PostLocal.com, which aims to serve the Washington, D.C., region with a more expansive reach, integrating politics, traffic, community news, and, of course, blogs serving a range of topics. Perhaps what's most interesting is its aim to weave its Web component with the hard-copy newspaper through a near-daily page dedicated to the site's goings-on.

From the announcement:

As the region's news leader, PostLocal.com will continue to provide in-depth and timely reporting and develop new features aimed at serving neighborhoods, communities and others better. Beginning tomorrow, page B2 of the print edition from Tuesday through Friday will give readers a platform to share ideas and react to stories allowing for constant interaction on the Web and in the paper.

The movement to more of a local focus in the newspaper industry, even on the national-newspaper level, has been necessary but largely disregarded for quite some time. But it may have missed the boat to the tune of about a decade. Many would-be local readers have already found themselves entrenched in other websites and blogs that give them the regional news they've craved; many others remain with the newspaper version of the Post, which, aside from its one-page PostLocal summary each morning, remains the same in terms of reach and breadth. The market opportunity for such a new site is an uphill battle, to be sure; not insurmountable, but not within easy reach, either.

The Post's move is interesting and relevant – but is it too late? Chime in via the comments box below with your take.