Transparencity: Leading a Technically Philly open data grant project

On behalf of Technically Philly, I have started work on a six-month, William Penn Foundation-funded journalism project called Transparencity, covering the open data movement in Philadelphia, as was announced this morning.

Conducted in partnership with the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University (which is chaired by my college honors thesis adviser), the project’s focus is “toward collaborative projects using technology and journalism to increase the availability and use of actionable government data.”

The support helps bolster existing coverage and allows me to strengthen relationships with new and previously only tenuous sources. Read all about our goals and expectations on the Technically Philly post here.

Those outputs show our work will extend beyond traditional coverage, but, to start, that has been a large part. I’ll update more here on the reporting that I am doing.

The William Penn Foundation is technically funding the nonprofit Institute, which, in serving as our fiduciary agent, is contracting out for-profit Technically Media Inc.’s Technically Philly news site. …Did ya get all that?

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Why did you become a journalist?

Zoltan Glass: A Journalist writing in his BMW, Paris 1934 © Science & Society Picture Library, UK

I was asked what it is I actually enjoy about this journalism world, its form and practice.

So I rattled off some answers:

  • I like writing
  • I like telling stories.
  • I like getting a little bit closer to truth.
  • I like focusing on different conversations.
  • I love asking questions and learning.

All of my interest and focus on business has come from these passions, though, entrepreneurship itself has certainly become intertwined, as building your own company is one hell of an education.

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Philadelphia Productions kickoff party

Click to enlarge.

Photographer Colin Lenton, whom I came to know during our college newspaper days, and a few of his colleagues have rented out beautiful space in the Frankford neighborhood and have made it into a unique studio space.

This weekend, Philadelphia Productions, what they call themselves, held a great grand opening party.

They had a camera set up that could take portraits with a click of a button and everyone had fun with it. See examples here.

Lenton and I did as well.

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Number of Views:3268

Philly Tech Week: introducing event series growing innovation impact

PHILADELPHIA — Regional technology news site Technically Philly has announced today that it is organizing the first ever Philly Tech Week to be held across the Philadelphia area April 25-30, 2011.

Philly Tech Week will be a week-long celebration of technology and innovation in Philadelphia. The annual week of events is intended to grow the impact of this innovative region through programming focused on technology, collaboration and improving Philadelphia

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Number of Views:6548

How do I choose a payroll services company for my business

When I am unsure about something, I tend to over-indulge in the research.

So, when my two colleagues and I decided that, despite our size, we thought it was worth the cost of hiring a payroll services company to withhold taxes for Technically Media from the very start, I knew I’d be indulging.

In the end, we went with a Center City Philadelphia representative from payroll services giant Paychex.

Let me tell you a bit about the process, in case you have a small business that might want to outsource that work as we have.

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Why Journalism should be like the catering business

I was inside Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia’s beloved, 70-year-old artisan cheese shop and gourmet delicatessen, when something very apparent sunk in for me.

They’ll sell me a block of Manchego sheep’s milk cheese for $5, or bratwurst or beef from the region for a few dollars a pound. It’s profitable and prominent.

But I’d bet Di Bruno Bros. makes a lot more money per minute of staff effort on its catering business than any retail experience it could create. Rather than having one person buying one block of cheese, any successful retail operation wants to use its economies of scale to up production and get more revenue for its effort by servicing tens or hundreds of people at the same time.

If you have a news site, then what is the back-end service that is really going to make the money needed to fund journalism?

That is a long-held foundation of retail service that journalism should take a lesson from. (And it’s just one more lesson we should be learning from other low-yield businesses).

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Number of Views:69478

Universities should host the newsrooms of their neighborhoods

Universities should host the newsrooms of their neighborhoods, towns and counties. If a university has a journalism department, college media and audience, this seems like a foregone conclusion.

Picture Temple University. It is a big, diverse, robust, public research university with a clutch of respected professional schools and an expansive undergraduate population that has been slowly and controversially expanding into at least four different, distinct, overwhelmingly black neighborhoods around it.

When you drive south on I-95 east of Philadelphia at night, look off to your right while only the tallest skyscrapers are yet in view a few miles in the distance, the blur of bright lights made of a dozen square blocks and a cluster of high-rise buildings among a swath of stout two story row homes is the university’s main campus.

Halfway between those stadium lights and Philadelphia’s iconic City Hall is another beacon of light, that old White Lady, 400 North Broad Street, the legendary location of the Philadelphia Inquirer and its sister paper the Daily News.

Mood lighting isn’t the only lesson Temple should take from the investigators of the Inquirer.

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Number of Views:23969

Philadelphia Republican Party: a new home for my senior thesis

Back in July 2008, I finally got around to updating a WordPress.com I had been using to track the work I was doing on my undergraduate honors thesis researching the future of the beleaguered Philadelphia Republican Party.

Two and a half years later, in looking to get a jump start on a 2011 resolution of ordering my online presence, I have abandoned the WordPress.com and brought that blog, its research and my final research paper to a subdomain here.

THESIS.christopherwink.com

I won’t be updating it. Rather, I just wanted a more stable, professional and suitable location to some dated work of which I am still proud and, believe it or not, I still get emails from people closer to what I covered than I certainly am.

Give it a look (perhaps most specifically the research paper from May 2008) and let me know what you think.

Number of Views:5110

Constitution Daily: the best of the National Constitution Center blog

This month, in announcing my new full-time role with Technically Media Inc., I briefly noted that we had launched Constitution Daily, a new blog platform for the National Constitution Center.

A move of that magnitude, I think, deserves a bit more detail.

Last January at the prestigious Union League after speaking on a panel about the future of journalism, I met and started a dialogue with David Eisner, the new CEO of the National Constitution Center, an innovative museum and event space devoted to the U.S. Constitution that is based in Philadelphia.

By May, we agreed that NCC needed to toe into the waters of content to grow its own audience who could become supporters, donors and visitors. In June, we started that work with an asset analysis and creating work flow and a platform direction.

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Number of Views:6092

Overwhelmed or underwhelmed: you’re probably going to be one, so choose

A friend mentioned to me that, in the end, he’d rather live his life being underwhelmed, rather than always feeling overwhelmed.

For him, he says he enjoys his life best when he avoids stress and appreciates simple pleasures. For me, he said, I’d rather take on some stress to accomplish something I believe has impact.

Which makes sense: humans aren’t particularly good at striking balance, so we move to one extreme or the other. So which would you rather?: to be underwhelmed or overwhelmed.

As in most cases, there’s value in both. It’s just important to know which you’d rather, so as not to find yourself in a life short of your goals.

Number of Views:5396