Lessons to be learned from TBD: International Edition

During my professional sabbatical in the month of April, I had the opportunity to travel to Moscow, Russia to talk with Eurasian journalists about community engagement.

This is my name in Cyrillic!

On April 22-24, the New Eurasia Media Program held its annual International Conference, where I, along with other journalists and bloggers from around the world, shared experiences and tools around the theme of “The local newspaper in the middle of the action”. I also gave a post-conference workshop on social media tools to a smaller group of Russian journalists (but that’s another post).

My presentation looked at the idea and launch of TBD, focusing specifically on ideas that worked and what, ultimately, led to it’s shift away from the original mission. I wanted to give attendees some good ideas they could try out at their newspapers amid the doom and gloom of a startup that didn’t exactly [...]

Farewell, TBD: It was good while it lasted

Today is my last day at TBD – so you’ll have to forgive a little bit of sappiness. I’m one of the last eliminated employees to depart and sticking around to watch everyone leave has been something of an emotional roller coaster.

The early days here, around when TBD launched, will always be a treasured bright spot in my professional life. The group of people assembled for that original staff was one of the brightest, most energetic and creative collections of journalists I think I’ll ever meet. Each person, from the reporters to the community engagement team to the editors, seemed to have been searching for a place that would set them free. For a little while, they had it.

Technically, TBD still exists, but it won’t ever be the TBD it was meant to be without those staffers who created it. It was an honor and a privilege to [...]

Four key things TBD did right

Despite how it all ended, there are positive lessons to be gleaned from TBD’s build, launch and brief life. Here’s a few things I hope other news orgs won’t shy away from trying in the future [...]

TBD to eliminate most staffers, including yours truly

I don’t really know what my next step will be in the world post-TBD, but I ask that you keep me and my soon-to-be-unemployed colleagues in your thoughts [...]

Chatting live with Poynter today

I’ll be chatting with Joe Grimm and the good folks at the Poynter Institute at 3 p.m. ET today about the role of the social media editor in the newsroom. I expect to get questions about what I do and possibly some inquiries into what’s going on at TBD.

If you’ll be around, hop on to the chat or read the transcript afterward and we’ll see how it all turned out.

First try at using Xtranormal for news at TBD

In an experiment, I tried Xtranormal’s animation tools to build a cartoon re-enactment of an FBI indictment transcript for TBD. [...]

TBD’s future is TBD, but then again, it always has been

On Feb. 9, it was announced that the management of TBD would be taken over by WJLA. This led to a Washington Post story declaring the site dead, lots of insistence we had failed and a tremendous outpouring of support from fans and friends. [...]

Recommended reading: Investigative social media, new ideas and tools

Sorry it’s been so long, but it’s been crazy busy as TBD’s preparing for the holidays and other events. This’ll be a quick one, just a few links I’ve been reading of late. Have a happy Thanksgiving, folks.

Social media roundup How Investigative Journalism Is Prospering in the Age of Social Media – Great ideas from several resources gathered by Vadim Lavrusik at Mashable on how to use social media in investigative reporting and newsroom projects. Includes tips on Crowdmap, Storify, Twitter crowdsourcing, data searches and more. A great post to pass on to the social media haters in your newsroom. RockMelt: The User Manual- If you don’t know about Rockmelt or want to know more on how to use the new social browser, here’s a great guide from the NY Times. 6 innovative uses of Tumblr by newsrooms – The big media companies are only now getting into Tumblr, [...]

How TBD’s election day experiments turned out

As promised, I’m reporting back on TBD’s election day experiments.

The Voting Issues Crowdmap seemed to be successful. We had a lot fewer reports than in the primaries, but considering D.C. turnout was lower and there were fewer issues reported overall, I’d say that’s accurate. We got 20 accepted reports in and some were very intriguing. Take this one:

My husband & I were told that we could not vote unless we left the children (11 month old & 3 year old) in the hallway. Then the security guard…told us we could take the 11 month old, but had to leave my 3 year old unattended in the lobby & if we didn’t want to do that, then we were unable to vote!

The Foursquare experiment was interesting, though it didn’t yield overwhelming participation. This was kind of expected, considering we didn’t have a lot of lead time and, it [...]

Using Foursquare and Crowdmap to track local elections

With the midterm elections coming tomorrow, lots of news outlets will likely be launching their fanciest new toys and social media ideas to best pull in that coveted election night audience on the web. TBD’s no exception, though our election day experiments are based in off-site crowdsourcing to better inform our on-site coverage.

As we did with the Washington D.C. primary elections, we’re launching a Crowdmap to track voting problems across the District, Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. We’re asking readers to report long lines, broken machines, ballot refusals, electioneering and such at the polls using email, Twitter hashtags or on-site reports. It worked pretty well in September, though this time I’m a bit worried about Crowdmap’s servers holding up. Right now as I post this, they’re struggling to load any of our maps.

I’m particularly excited to try out Foursquare in Tuesday’s election coverage. In our attempt to [...]

10 ways journalists can use Storify

When Storify came on the scene, it inspired a lot of oohs, ahhs and speculation as to how it would work for journalists. Here are some ideas. [...]

How to build, manage and customize a Crowdmap

So you’ve got a great idea for a user-contributed map you need to launch RIGHT NOW. Ushahidi’s Crowdmap makes it pretty easy, and hopefully this post makes it even easier. All examples shown are from TBD’s Crowdmap for D.C.’s election.

First of all, if you’re mapping a crisis, Crowdmap recommends checking our their Emergency Response Strategy first (pdf).

Also, check and see if anyone else has done your map idea with a Google Search. If someone else has already built a map of what you want to do in the same area, maybe you should just help them out instead of replicating the work.

The Quick Build

Sign up for a Crowdmap account at www.crowdmap.com and log in.

1. Click on Create New Deployment

2. On the deployment setup page, pick a url, name and tagline for your map. Keep SEO in mind here to make it easier to [...]