- The tweet wall behind David Johnson, Jim Brady, Mike Rucki, David Garber and Sylvie Nguyen. Not pictured is panelist Candace Hollingsworth. Photo by Jordyn Phelps.
Questions on Twitter came faster than Jim Brady or blogging panelists could answer them Tuesday night at TBD’s launch-celebration program at American University.
The AU School of Communication hosted the program and announced its partnership with TBD, a partnership that includes internships and workshops for our TBD Community Network. One of the smartest things AU organizers did was to show the Twitter back channel on a screen behind the panel of four bloggers from the network. The screen quickly became dubbed the “tweet wall.”
Moderator David Johnson (@darthcheeta) asked good questions, starting with some of his own but quickly switching to questions from the crowd (or beyond) being asked on Twitter. But it was impossible for Johnson to keep up. As the panelists and TBD General Manager Jim Brady were responding to a question, two or three more popped up on the screen behind them.
Panelists Mike Rucki of On Frozen Blog, David Garber of And Now, Anacostia, Sylvie Nguyen of Thrifty DC Cook and Candace Hollingsworth of Hyattsville Now did a great job of answering questions. But since they didn't get to them all, I will provide my own answers to some Twitter questions here (and invite the bloggers from last night and any others who would like to respond to answer below in the comments):
The community holds blogs accountable. We are pleased with the commitment to accuracy and accountability within the TBD Community Network. At one of our media previews before we launched, a reporter from a traditional media organization asked how we could trust bloggers to get their facts right. And in the story he wrote, that reporter made an error on a fact that he did not seek to verify with the people who could have confirmed or corrected his information. I pointed out the error to him immediately after his story went online, and it still has not been corrected. But we still link to that organization. We believe most, if not all, of our blogs are more committed to correcting mistakes and getting their facts right. If we learn of a blog that is not reliable and accountable, we would drop it from the network, but I have high confidence in them.
We will be including a workshop on accuracy and verification in the series of blogging workshops we are presenting in partnership with AU's School of Communication.
Do you find you pursue different angles on a breaking story than the mainstream media would? #tbdau
Many of our network members break news that completely escapes the notice of mainstream media. Some localize a bigger story. Some link to mainstream stories. Some find different angles. I love the variety of approaches we see when several members of the network are covering the same story as traditional media.
We have been pleased that several network members have told us that traffic from TBD has boosted their traffic considerably. Rachel Levitin says that TBD contributes 7 to 10 percent of We Love DC's daily traffic.
Matthew Boyle was the most skeptical questioner in our Twitter crowd (we welcome skeptical questions, which we ought to, since we ask a lot of them), asking three challenging questions:
#tbdau do you think allbritton has the capability to start asking u to do assignments? if so, do u do them? if u dont, how do u respond?
No, we don't ask our network members to do assignments. We let them know what we're up to, in case they want to participate in some way. For instance, we invited Mark Steven of The Om Field, John Jeffries of BGO.C.D and Ryan Estorninos of Riggo's Rag to participate in last Sunday's live chat during the Redskins game. And we hope to have some Redskins bloggers joining this weekend's live chat. But these are all invitations, not assignments.
#tbdau do you write rest/food reviews in favor or against people tbd likes or doesnt?
Does TBD have any say in how you cover anything- has content-gathering/producing changed or has tone of news changed since launch? #tbdau
TBD does not exercise any control over the content of network members' blogs. We sometimes decide not to link to a particular post, but that would generally be because the post is not local in nature. We like disagreement. If someone disagrees with us (or with another network member), we would link to them or perhaps blog about the disagreement.
how do you work for a paid job and give enough attention to your blog? I need advice! #tbdau
I hope some network members answer, because the time-management skills of our network amaze me. Since I also do my own blog mostly on personal time, I will give two answers: First, a blog post doesn't need to be long. You can share a quick observation or link with your community and keep the blog active. Also, I have about an hour-long commute each way, so I flip open my laptop and start blogging on the Metro and the bus (when I can sit down).
Is it hard to keep your blog content local? Do you ever feel like covering national issues? Can you? #tbdau
We don't restrict what our network members blog about. We recruit blogs with a local focus because we're a local news site. These people blog about their communities, local sports teams and local dining because they are passionate about those topics. Sometimes they do take on a national topic (local sports bloggers might take on the big national story in the leagues they cover, for instance). We might not aggregate those national posts, but we share the passion for local news and issues with our network members, so we don't really have any problems here.
Well, I should leave that question for network members to answer, if any wish to. But I will say that TBD Community Network members are not restricted from belonging to other blog networks. Several blogs are members of both our network and the Post's.
Two suggestions (I’ll ask Johnson and the panelists if they have any others to add) for other event organizers planning to use the “tweet wall”:
1. Rucki suggested that when panelists are going to have a tweet wall behind them, they should have monitors in front of them, so they can follow and respond to questions before the moderator even asks them or riff on comments from the crowd (or know what the crowd is laughing about when a funny tweet appears).
2. The moderator should limit answers to most questions to one or two bloggers, so you can field more questions. If a blogger disagrees with the first response or has a significantly different perspective, you would go with a second answer, but you would generally favor moving the discussion along. The moderator could be sure that everyone gets a chance to speak by asking some questions directly to a panelist who hasn’t answered the last couple questions.
One final question from last night's tweet wall:
We haven't been invited yet, but TBD is pleased to bring our story to other universities and organizations. If you would like to schedule an event with TBD, just email Steve Buttry. We encourage using the tweet wall.