Journalism is a strategy, not an industry

Journalism is a strategy, not an industry.

Newsrooms should rethink their competition. Journalism organizations are in dozens of different businesses. What we share in common (journalism DNA) makes us more partners than adversaries. The many businesses that are competing for the revenue and not providing other community value, like service journalism, are the real competition.

This was the focus of a lightning pitch I gave this weekend at the national Online News Association annual conference in Denver. Below find my slides, audio and some tweet reactions I received.

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Acts of journalism that aren’t written articles

Because the modern concept of journalism was developed inside newspaper newsrooms, we’ve stayed stuck on the idea that journalism only looks one way: written words with a feature lede and nut graf.

Maybe a photo essay. Or an editorial cartoon. Or nonfiction book. Radio and TV reports too can cut the pass. But we know what form comes to mind first when journalism is invoked: writing and editing long, multi-source feature stories, likely to put into some print publication. That has to adapt.

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What I’ve learned hosting travelers with Airbnb for a year 

Of all the buzzy web companies that will define my generation, Airbnb is likely the one I’m most jealous of not creating.

As a traveler and host on Couchsurfing.org since 2008, like millions I missed the too-obvious opportunity that people would pay for a better experience with a similar global community. It’s brilliant and connective and exciting and has a solid revenue plan — and if it has become the primary example of racial bias in the sharing economy, that’s something to be corrected, not a reason for it to be destroyed (Likewise, criticism of it driving up rental costs is probably not true yet)

I joined the peer-to-peer housing platform in December 2011 and took my first trip using the service in February 2012 to Birmingham, Alabama with my then girlfriend SACM. More than four years later, I continue using the service to book travel accommodations, preferring the service for homey placements in residential neighborhoods with hosts who can give local recommendations. I just find it far more interesting than a hotel — it helps that they’re almost always more affordable too.

So I was excited that I could combine these interests — welcoming guests, offering advice and making some additional money — as an Airbnb host when SACM and I bought a home together a year ago.

Last month marked a year of our hosting guests via Airbnb. To celebrate, I wanted to share lessons, advice and, yes, data from the experience.

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Listen to my recording at the 4th annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival

Since May 2010, I’ve organized a regular storytelling event among friends called Story Shuffle. Each of the last four years I’ve brought a few of my friends together to record a Story Shuffle during the Philadelphia Podcast Festival.

It happened again.

The event is organized by Nathan Kuruna, an audiophile and photographer — the above photo and these on Facebook (all podfest photos from him here) are from him via his Click Save Photography shop, so give him a look. Earlier this month, the fourth annual was held in part at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Kensington.

Below listen to the stories I told on Saturday, Aug. 20 with my friends startup savant Archna Sahay, art curator Uri Pierre Noel and documentarian El Sawyer.

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I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life

Let’s start with scale: I attended a political fundraiser and wrote a check for $250.

Next, consider context: it was for someone I’ve known for longer than I can remember, among the closest of my family friends, who lived a few houses down from me when I was just a few months old.

Even still, I actually agonized a bit about the decision. Journalism is a thicket of rules and expectations and among the loudest is to stay objective in politics and distant from the money that feeds it. I was worried my donating would cloud the work I do as editorial director at niche publisher Technically Media. Here’s why I decided it was the right decision.

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What I learned from publishing a local news newsletter for 18 months

Since I’ve launched a new personal curated newsletter project and an old related URL shortener project was finally archived, I’ve been thinking about my first experiment with email audience.

In April 2012, we at Technically Media announced Ph.ly, a URL shortener that had a companion content strategy — a curated weekly newsletter sharing the three biggest pieces of local journalism or civic information. Over the next 18 months, I published the weekly newsletter as a side project and experiment. Here are a few things I learned before sidelining the project by 2014.

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Beat reporters: stop hanging out with other journalists and spend more time with your community

I say this fully admitting I’m an active, proud and lively member of the Pen and Pencil Club, a private journalist’s association and bar in my hometown Philadelphia.

Journalists, especially community and beat reporters, should spend a lot more time with their communities than with other in news media. For sure, you can get great professional development and important understanding from meeting with your colleagues. But count up the number of hours you spend with other reporters and compare it with your community in person: which one is the bigger number?

This was among my clearest points from a talk I gave at the third annual Entrepreneurial Journalism Educators Summit organized by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Below are my slides and some notes.

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Here’s the data to put our country’s startup frenzy into context

Policymakers and economic development strategists are startup crazy — in pursuit of a silly goal. I know. I’ve spent most of the last decade reporting on young tech companies, exactly the slice of firm creation that has led much of the attention in this post-recession fixation.

Though I’ve taken various approaches at understanding what, if anything, is really different about this era’s of business creation, I recently found myself pulling together some data that I wanted to share.

Hype around startups — newly created businesses, particularly ones that are approaching new business models — has merit. But the concept isn’t as new and their impact isn’t yet as bold as you might hope — Millennials are on pace to be one of the least entrepreneurial generations on record.

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A list of one thing I learned each day of June 2016

I wanted to get a sense of the kind of things I learn on any given day. So I spent the month of June writing down one specific thing I learned each day.

My goal was for them to be actionable and easily transferable, hoping to identify just how regularly I am learning such things. It was fun. Let me share, from reading, watching, talking and traveling — like to the Great Lakes last month, as depicted above.

I love the idea of learning meaningfully all the time. Here’s my latest check on myself.

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