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Archive for the ‘TBD’ Category

I was traveling and leading workshops this week for the anti-climactic final end of TBD. I didn’t have time to weigh in then, except on Twitter, after my former TBD colleague Jenny Rogers broke the news:

I don’t have a lot to add, but I’ve blogged a lot about TBD here, so I should note the denouement. TBD made our mark in part through effective aggregation of Washington local news, so I’ll note its passing with some aggregation on its brief history. It won’t be complete, but I invite you to add some more links in the comments. Where I aggregate content from TBD, I should note that I don’t know how long it will remain available. Archived content appears to be online, though the home page and some searches redirect to wjla.com.

Before we get to the actual demise, I have to share a link and screenshot from the coverage of our launch: I don’t believe any elaboration is needed here.

As for coverage of the actual death, it was pretty muted, perhaps appropriately for an operation whose life and death throes were perhaps overcovered. Here are the best accounts I saw of the final demise (normally that phrase would be redundant, but TBD’s demise was drawn-out enough that I consider it appropriate):

Erik Wemple’s No more TBD.com (Erik was TBD’s editor and now blogs about media for the Washington Post: (more…)

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Two years ago, I was working with Jim Brady, right, Mandy Jenkins, left, and Julie Westfall to launch TBD. Now we’re still trying to change the news business at Digital First Media. We’re together this week at the Thunderdome newsroom.

Two years ago today, an incredibly talented crew of journalists launched TBD. We had a lot of hype and a lot of fun, even if it didn’t last long. TBD now exists in URL only, its concept abandoned, its talent scattered, its name linked to history’s most famed sinking ship. But I have yet to talk to a colleague who doesn’t remember the experience fondly.

I blogged on the first anniversary of our launch last year about some lessons from the TBD. I’m not going to observe the anniversary every year, but I think two years after the launch it’s worth noting where the #TBDiaspora ended up and how we’re doing. The day Jim Brady left TBD in early November 2010, less than three months after launch, he said he hoped we’d “get the band back together” someday. Well, we have a quartet of the old band playing for Digital First Media: Jim, Mandy Jenkins, Julie Westfall and me. I’ve updated us plenty, but I wanted to check in with the rest of my colleagues. (more…)

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My move to Journal Register Co. and Digital First Media and my work for my new companies dominated my writing this year on this blog. I’ve reviewed my blogging each of the past two years, so I’ll do it again in a post that clearly is self-indulgent. Still, I think it’s good to look back on a year’s work, and as long as I’m doing that, I might as well blog it.

The most notable posts of the year were a series I wrote the week before Christmas, explaining aspects of Digital First journalism. The piece on the workflow of a Digital First journalist became my second most-read blog post ever in just a week. While it’s more than 3,000 views behind my Blueprint for the Complete Community Connection, I’m sure it will eventually become my most-read blog post. It took the C3 blueprint nine months to reach 5,000 views. The Digital First workflow topped that in just over a week. Three other posts in the series topped 1,000 views quickly.

My work for JRC and DFM contributed to the blog in lots of other ways. I explained what community engagement means. More than a dozen blog posts offer tips, links and slides for workshops I did in visits to Digital First newsrooms. I also blogged frequently about how Digital First Media colleagues are using social media and engaging the community: (more…)

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The St. Petersburg Times is planning to rebrand itself as the Tampa Bay Times.

Here’s the primary reason I think you shouldn’t waste time, energy, focus and money rebranding a newspaper: Print newspapers are a declining business, and news organizations should spend time, energy, focus and money on building a successful digital business for the future, not trying to rebrand the product of the past.

I’m a longtime fan of the St. Pete Times and the Poynter Institute, the non-profit organization that owns it (and depends on Times profits for its prosperity). I wish the Times well in its rebranding effort. I hope it reaps in great profits that fund growth of Poynter’s programs.

However, I think MediaNews Group (my colleagues in Digital First Media) made the right decision in reversing a move toward a regional brand, retaining the established local brands, including the Oakland Tribune, a name with a long and distinguished history. (more…)

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I’m sorry to see Brad Rourke and Cindy Cotte Griffiths call it quits with Rockville Central.

They served their community well with a lively forum for news and discussion. They were innovative, shifting their product from a website to a Facebook-only community. They were a delight to work with as one of the first members of the TBD Community Network.

And they’ve decided it is time for them to move on. In a joint announcement on their Facebook page, Brad and Cindy this morning said:

The simple fact is that it takes a great deal of energy and time to support the online community in the way we feel it deserves. We do not make money off of Rockville Central, and never intended to. It is a labor of love and devotion to Our Fair City. We don’t feel we can devote the kind of energy it deserves and so, rather than let it whither, we decided to make a clean end.

(more…)

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A series of tweets last night reminded me of a lesson I should have included when I blogged last month about lessons from my TBD experience.

David Cohn tweeted a link to a Noah Davis story about AOL’s Seed being pretty much defunct. I retweeted with my own comment, without a great deal of thought or analysis.

(more…)

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A year ago, my TBD colleagues and I launched one of the great adventures of my career.

Few remain there. TBD barely remains, its staff and mission diminished and redefined. Founding leader Jim Brady parted ways with owner Robert Allbritton last November. By February, Allbritton changed the mission and cut the staff. By May, I was gone.

A year ago, I thought we would be celebrating an exciting first year and planning more growth and expansion. My point here is not to dwell on the past. Instead, I will quietly lift a glass to my TBD colleagues and share some lessons for other digital pioneers (and for my Journal Register Co. colleagues) from our TBD experience. (more…)

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I tell journalism students they are entering my profession at a time of extraordinary opportunity. I still believe that, even if the opportunity at TBD didn’t turn out to be what I was expecting.

I agreed today to pursue another extraordinary opportunity. I will be rejoining my friend and mentor Jim Brady and joining the visionary John Paton, Jon Cooper and other Journal Register Co. colleagues I am eager to meet.

I will be leading community engagement efforts for JRC: social media, community blogs, community conversation, the full range of community engagement. More on that as this adventure unfolds. (more…)

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Erik Wemple, editor of TBD, will excel in his next role, blogging media criticism for the Washington Post.

Erik told the staff of his move this afternoon. He wrote a lot of media criticism as editor of City Paper, and his video Fuego/Frio riffs have been a delight at both City Paper and TBD. We’re wondering whether the high-energy F/F can make the transition to the staid Washington Post. Even with his editing duties at TBD, Erik did some outstanding media criticism for as well. With the 2012 election campaign already rolling, Erik will focus initially on political media.

The energy, edge and drive that marked TBD, especially in its first six months, were a direct reflection of Erik’s leadership. He has been a joy to work with and leaves with my deep respect, admiration and affection.

I’ll repeat publicly what I told Erik this afternoon, before leading a round of applause from the staff: He did a hell of a job under difficult circumstances.

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TBD’s community engagement team has all moved on to new challenges now, except for me. Elliot Kort, a late addition to the team, left Thursday to take a new job as an interactive strategist for NJI Media.

Elliot Kort

Elliot and Elyse Greenberg produce Capitol Bites, one of the first members of the TBD Community Network. Before he began working for us, he was an enthusiastic TBD supporter and we were following each other on Twitter.

He pitched me last year with a thoughtful plan to produce podcasts for TBD. While I couldn’t hire him to carry out that plan, I liked what I saw and heard, and kept him in mind as a prospect to work with TBD. (more…)

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Jeff Sonderman

When a friend at The Poynter Institute told me Poynter was looking for someone to write about mobile and social media, I thought immediately of Jeff Sonderman.

Jeff starts his work with Poynter next month. He will be the final member of the outstanding community engagement team I hired last year to leave TBD. Other than me, he will be the only one to make it to his first anniversary, and just barely.

I first met Jeff when he was an editor at the Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pa., and I was leading a discussion for a seminar at the American Press Institute. I probably met 30 editors at that seminar, but Jeff was the only one to stay in touch. I left API to become editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. We followed each other on Twitter and through reading and occasionally commenting on each others’ blogs.

When I announced that I was leaving Cedar Rapids to join Jim Brady’s as-yet-unnamed and still optimistic local news venture in Washington, Jeff immediately sent me an email saying he wanted to join our team. He stood out among a strong field of candidates and I hired him as our senior community host. (more…)

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One of the best pieces of leadership advice I ever got came from Dave Witke*, one of the best bosses I ever worked for: Hire good people and get out of their way.

Our social media strategy at TBD worked because I hired Mandy Jenkins and managed (most days) to stay out of her way.

Mandy is one of those people of whom I know that someday I will say, “I knew her when …” After I hired her, I told the story of how she was already telling me things I didn’t know about social media before she sat down for the interview.

That was just the first of many days that Mandy amazed me. Soon she will be amazing colleagues at HuffPost Politics, the next step for one of the best digital journalists anywhere. I was shocked when our company eliminated Mandy’s position. But I wasn’t at all surprised that she had three outstanding offers within a month from leading  digital media organizations. (more…)

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