For the fourth time, I interviewed Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on stage, for the third time during Philly Tech Week, the event series I help organize annually. This took place back in early May: find coverage from Technical.ly Philly here.
It’s a kind of journalism I’m embracing for a community I represent.
People will make you think otherwise.
Involved people face pretty common time constraints: you want to be present in more places than your calendar allows.
This is true of beat reporters and community organizers and advocates and activists alike. Recently I was talking about just that topic with a friend, and we found ourselves exchanging a few tricks we each had for accomplishing our goals: expanding a network while maintaining relationships with others.
There’s this strange and perhaps dated idea that mission and money don’t mix.
I suppose it comes from a time of less transparency, of very black and white lines between nonprofits and for profits. But I find it altogether puzzling today.
You might confuse journalism with some reported article or radio report or TV segment. That’s because these are among the most common units that make up the process of deploying journalism.
But when pressed to define journalism, as many do for the trade and the practitioners, it’s important to recognize that even the process of providing news and information to a community might not be goal enough. And there are lots more ways to deploy journalism.
I’m a first time entrepreneur, having cofounded a niche publishing company. For more than eight years, I have been among those most responsible for the organization’s longterm strategy. For most of those years, I played the role of public face, among the first to serve very nearly all the roles we now have. We have a team of more than 20 and invoiced for nearly $1.7 million in 2016, all of which I feel responsible for supporting and growing.
But only today did I take on the title of CEO.
No one had ever held the title at our organization before. In an era championing entrepreneurship and fetishizing the young and the innovative, we are quick to anoint untested first time founders as chief executives. How many one person or four person companies do you know with a first-time CEO? It’s meant to offer clarity and it’s a great resume line. I am going to tell you why I think that’s a mistake. It’s also why it took me eight years to feel comfortable calling myself an organization’s CEO.
I’m not a procrastinator, which is no small feat, considering my father and my sister both are.
I take a lot of pride in planning ahead on challenges or opportunities. Sometimes that runs counter to others, who are more to sitting on deadlines. Of course crashing into a deadline happens to us all but the reliance on them concerns me.
That’s because, as I’ve been thinking lately, if you wait for something to have to be solved, then it’s often too late. You can’t creatively or find opportunities for efficiencies. Once the deadline is here, it’s broken and you aren’t going to be able to fix it.
So? Change what a deadline means to you. If something is due on the 15th, your deadline must be the 10th and so you better get started on the 5th. Then you can be the person you say you are.
You won’t find a reporter who questions the importance of accuracy. It’s chief among the journalistic creeds.
Many, too, would understand the importance of relevancy to the craft — choosing to share what fits their publication’s audience and voice (though it takes some savvy to make those decisions consistently).
But what remains still foreign, even controversial, is the idea that reporting should be done with productivity in mind. A journalist should be able to say why they’re pursuing a story: what goals will be reached because of it?
That means I internalized a lot of advice from athletes, whether or not they actually ever said them (sports quotes are full of apocryphal and fictitious claims). I was amused recently to think of a handful of very-90s-era memories I have about lessons from North American sports legends. In addition to being stuck in time, this collection is funny because I am so far from a knowledgeable sports fan today.
So these are corny for all sorts of reasons. Yet I do find myself thinking of these even today.