The new kid in the downpour of fresh ideas

When you’ve spent your entire professional career in a newspaper’s newsroom, it’s pretty easily to get your mind blown at a startup. I can attest to that firsthand in my first few days on the job at TBD.

Instead of shoehorning some new media approach into a centuries-old tradition, we’re building something so new, it’s still somewhat intangible – and that’s the fun part. It’s also sort of terrifying.

Because we haven’t launched yet, there are no deadlines, per se (which is a tough adjustment from my last few years working in breaking news). Our deadline for now is launch – and then infinite thereafter as we continue to add new features and tweak tools.

Right now, there are no rules, but I wouldn’t call it lawless, either. All of us currently involved with TBD have extensive experience in news and/or the social sphere. We know the framework of what we’re working toward, the rest is totally up for grabs.

In the past few days, I’ve been in several meetings with the rest of the community engagement staff where we have been brainstorming TBD’s processes for reader participation, community newsgathering and the all-important continuous breaking news. There are only five of us in a room, but it’s a hurricane of what-ifs and how-about-wes.

Not once has anyone said, “We can’t do that” or “That isn’t possible”. That’s a great feeling.

I know those times are coming. Some ideas will make it and others won’t. For now, though, I’m just trying to get a word in edgewise in a newsroom full of energy and rapid-fire ideas.

In addition to these sessions, we’re crowdsourcing our TBD plans, so if you have ideas you’d like to share, please do.

The community hosts are already miles ahead of me, working hard to recruit good bloggers for our network. I, on the other hand, am desperately trying to catch up.

I’ve found being the social media producer for a website that doesn’t exist in a city that doesn’t know you is a pretty tall order. All that community I built around myself in Cincinnati is now far, far away – so now the new task is cracking the Twitter code of this area.

In preparation to launch the TBD Twitter account(s) in the near future, I’m currently working on building up my own DC base on Twitter, figuring out who to follow for breaking news, community tips, laughs and tips about cheap beer. I’m working on finding the “nodes” (as my former editor was fond of calling them), that is, the Kevin Bacons on the metro DC social media sphere who are followed by and follow everyone important.

That’ll take some time, I know. I’m just not very patient. Have ideas/suggestions? You know the drill.

Because we haven’t launched yet, there are no deadlines, per se (which is a tough adjustment from my last few years working in breaking news). Our deadline for now is launch – and then infinite thereafter as we continue to add new features and tweak tools.

  • dcborn61

    Hard Times Cafe has a pretty good Cincinnati chili, if that's what you miss most about the Queen City. You'll find there is a pretty big divide between MD and VA folks. Despite hearing how transient the city is, a lot of us have been here a long time and have a memory about what came before.

    That's the lesson for today. :)

    • http://manjamedia.com Mandy Jenkins

      Thanks for the tip on the chili. I brought some canned Skyline, but that'll only go so far.

      So what do the MD and VA folks think of District people?

      • dcborn61

        DC residents are respected for putting up with the local government ineffectiveness while also giving up their voting rights. You caught on already to one localism. The government city is Washington, the residents live in the District.

  • http://twitter.com/bydanielvictor Daniel Victor

    My favorite part: There have been several times when someone throws out a rough sketch of an idea, someone else takes the baton and adds their own ideas, and on and on until soon enough we have something awesome from what was just minutes ago a mere inkling of something cool. Who knew meetings could actually do that?

    • http://manjamedia.com Mandy Jenkins

      Now to build those awesome ideas….that's the hard part.