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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Listen to this small business podcast interview with me

PR shop 2820 Press founder Joe Taylor Jr. hosts a podcast with small business owners called the Build.He invited me on.

I talked about the beginning of Technically Media and about my perspective on journalism and its role in our work. It’s an hour-long conversation you can find here.

Below are some highlights I shared:

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I am a white Airbnb host. I reviewed 102 guest requests to assess my own racial bias

Peer-to-peer, short-term housing platform Airbnb is probably my favorite consumer web company. A traveling member since 2011, my wife SACM and I have been hosting travelers too for most of the last year. I’m a proud and happy user.

Yet I know that some of the loudest news about Airbnb in its last couple years of mainstream expansion has been controversial: first, about the company navigating municipal hotel taxes and, most recently, its central role in a conversation about racial bias in the sharing economy.

You know, #AirbnbWhileBlack.

So now that my wife and I have been hosting for nearly a year and have received more than 100 requests, I wanted review for our own selection bias.

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I’m going to try publishing a curated monthly newsletter: join it

I’ve been writing here since 2007, and even earlier including a previous version of this site. For most of that time, anyone who preferred to check in here via email used an old Feedburner hack I made and received each post here sent to their inbox as an email.

Now I’m going to experiment with what has become a very popular move among lots of people I admire on the internet — a personally curated monthly newsletter on Tinyletter that I’m calling right now “Texts I didn’t send you.” (For now I’m going to keep the Feedburner in place but I will be transitioning the hundred or so of you there over to this replacement)

Subscribe to mine here.

I’ll be sending a newsletter monthly filled with links to interesting things I’ve been reading, my own writing and other fun thoughts, mostly around media, entrepreneurship and cities.

Like many internet-fans, I was devastated when Google Reader was sun-setted. I’m interested in whether old school email is back to being its replacement.

How I described what I do for a living to a classroom of first graders

If you can’t describe what you do to a child, you don’t actually know what you do.

Sure, in an era of disruption and distraction, we are changing and evolving roles and organizations and missions rapidly enough that to kids and even other adults outside our industries, the details can get fuzzy. But the idea here is that your core purpose has almost surely been seen before.

So can you describe what you do at its simplest form?

I got this challenge when I agreed to do a Career Day this month at Adaire, a public K-8 school in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia in which I live. (The school has a fun history dating to the 1890s, including the above-depicted first building and a more conventional one used today)

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What made me proud about our sixth annual Philly Tech Week

You determine success by what goals you set. The mission of Philly Tech Week from the very start six years ago was to create an entry point for others to discover the community of technologists and entrepreneurs bubbling up in Philadelphia.

So this annual, community-supported calendar of events celebrating technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in Philadelphia will have a role for as long as those subjects warrant local on-boarding. Led by us at local tech news network Technical.ly, some 50 partners put together 150 events during a 10-day period ending this past weekend. And though we’re still collecting survey results and feedback from attendees, organizers and supporters, the early feedback I remains consistent with past years: (a) the collective calendar brings more people out to all our events and (b) the attendees include community-regulars and, just as important, people trying to better understand how to join in.

When that stops, that’s likely when PTW (and events like it) cease to matter. What does change each year is what stands out to me as particularly telling or representative from the calendar. That’s where I’m often most proud.

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