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16:00

Meet your host: Inside TBD, where engaging the audience is a new beat

Editor’s Note: Our sister publication Nieman Reports is out with its winter issue, which focuses on changes in beat reporting. We’re highlighting a few entries that connect with subjects we follow in the Lab, but we encourage you to read the whole issue. In this piece the community engagement team from TBD talk about their jobs and what “engagement” means.

The job of engaging with those formerly known as “the audience” is in some ways becoming a new online “beat” — one in search of a simple moniker to describe what it is, the skills required, and the tasks entailed. Four of the six members of TBD’s community engagement team describe what they do at this local news site that came to life in the summer of 2010.

Nathasha Lim:

“I’m a community host at TBD.” That’s what I say when people ask what I do. Hearing this, they smile, sort of, and nod their heads, and then they ask again what it is I really do. By now, this routine is all too familiar — but I can appreciate why. Until I started this job, I hadn’t heard of a community host either. Unlike the previous positions I’ve held — reporter, producer, video journalist — this one was unfamiliar, with responsibilities undefined and always evolving.

While I don’t have a clear definition for my title, in the short time I’ve been doing it, one thing is certain: What I do is unpredictable and diverse. On any given day I will keep an eye on local bloggers and interact with the community via social media. I stay on top of local news by relying on a combination of traditional and new sources. Then I use social media and digital tools to bring accurate and useful news and information to the public — quickly.

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