In defense of friction (Or, yes, I think business cards still make sense)

I’ve met a lot of startups trying to get rid of business cards. Because they seem old and create obstacles.

I often gather several business cards from events and days later will go through them, pulling out the people who are the most relevant for something we talked about, someone whom we have a next step. That friction makes sense. It causes an opportunity cost: by making me take several steps, I am more selective.

There’s this concept of an efficiency tax, that sometimes we want friction. It helps the experience. Business cards are one of them.

Continue reading In defense of friction (Or, yes, I think business cards still make sense)

Journalists: what do you love first, the Reporting or the Writing

A version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter several weeks ago. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.

One of the first questions I ask younger reporters when I meet them is which is their first love: the reporting or the writing. Storytelling, as the form is euphemistically categorized, is very old. The ways we report and write, too, have old origins, but their forms adapt with the times. They change constantly. I bet your industry has a similar kind of split, subtly different pathways to the professional work.

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Watch my appearance on the 2Techies podcast

I first met Miami founder Michael Hall in early 2016 when I reported a feature on and hosted an event with the entrepreneurship community there. Since then, I’ve spent time with him a handful of times, at SXSW, over dinner and during another pair of trips I made to Miami.

He’s a charming and humble explorer in his and other startup communities, friendly enough to share with others what he learns along the way. So I was tickled to join him on the second season of his popular on-going weekly video podcast interview series called 2Techies, in which he interviews others involved in tech communities.

See it here, or watch it below with a few notes from our conversation.

Continue reading Watch my appearance on the 2Techies podcast

Great beat reporting results in you negotiating when to break news you already have

If a journalist covers her beat well enough, one of the more frequent challenges she’ll face is negotiating when to report something, if a source is requesting an embargo.

That was one of the main points during a session I helped lead during the annual conference of the National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) about finding and reporting a niche.

Continue reading Great beat reporting results in you negotiating when to break news you already have

Watch my interview on ‘The Blind Entrepreneur’ podcast

Be more explicit with your team when you’re offering an opinion, a recommendation or stating a direct ask. Otherwise, a teammate might not know whether you’re sharing an idea or a demand.

It’s something I’m still learning and something I shared when I was interviewed on a podcast called ‘The Blind Entrepreneur.”

Host Johnathan Grzybowski helpfully has fuller show notes on the site here, where you can watch the episode. Find it below too.

Continue reading Watch my interview on ‘The Blind Entrepreneur’ podcast

Notes on reporting a challenging community journalism profile

I bylined a challenging profile of a Philly tech community member that published on Technical.ly last week. It was a 30-interview, 7,000-word kind of longread, something different than work I’ve done before.

I felt the story was important for a local community I serve, but I also felt there were broader lessons and concepts that I believe have relevance to other small communities everywhere. Between that and my own personal interest in continuing to develop my credentials in that kind of work, I invested quite a bit of my free time to the project over the last month.

We have published other pieces of longform — see other examples here. But this was the first person-specific long read profile I’ve written — others came close but were far less exhaustive. I have some thoughts to share below. If you haven’t already, please read the piece here.

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Read my piece in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

One of the challenges I gave myself this year was to sharpen my humor writing. Though I like to think of myself of something resembling funny in person — would you like to hear a knock knock joke? — this is not a quality that I have developed in my writing.

So with that in mind, I took on several causes in fiction writing recently. I’m proud to say that that resulted in a small, playful item of mine being published by the Internet Tendency, the online satire site of well-known publisher McSweeney’s. I summoned my own entrepreneurship experience and coverage of other founders and startup culture: “REALLY, EVERYTHING IS GOING GREAT AT MY TECH STARTUP. I JUST HAVE SOME PAYROLL QUESTIONS.”

Read it here.

It was fun to see people I know share the piece without knowing I wrote it, in addition to McSweeney fans (and I am one) enjoying it too. It was a new experience writing for a publication I know well. I hope you enjoy.

I wrote something silly and @mcswys kindly published it. Go read it (link in bio)

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Media is a mirror: what you see says more about you than you want to admit

What a simple and common reaction: get angry at the one telling you the story.

The true job of news gatherers is to reflect the communities they serve. Media is mirror. We can and should have a responsibility in pushing for a truer understanding and taking responsibility in making those communities better (however we define better) but we still must be representative of those whom we serve.

You are our source material. So you have more to do with our editorial mix than you might realize.

Continue reading Media is a mirror: what you see says more about you than you want to admit