The Founding Fathers would have loved and leveraged social media but been fearful of its future implications on privacy and speech issues, said a host of experts at an event on the impact of new communications patterns.
Find background and audio of the entire program on the NCC blog here. Watch the entire hour-long panel discussion on CSPAN here.
Thanks to Stefan Frank for organizing the event and including me. Below, I have a three-minute clip of the final question of the night, in which, after spending the evening speaking about the perils of social media, each panelist reminds us of the power and benefit.
Local TV news is, perhaps even more than other in the media business, a ratings game.
That’s a distinct takeaway I had, leaving NBC Philadelphia headquarters on City Line Avenue after the latest local ONA meetup featured the affiliate’s web strategy and news direction. More than 50 journalists, NBC 10 representatives, bloggers, freelancers and other media representatives had Yuengling and pretzels before seating in the 10! Show studios. The event was well-planned, well-run and well-received — though this writer is one of the local group’s organizers, outside of promotion, this event was entirely organized by NBC 10 social media editor Lou DuBois.
The event featured video clips from the WCAU station’s long history, presentations on the affiliate’s web and mobile strategies and then a panel Q&A session featuring the station’s tech trends reporter Vince Lattanzio, its consumer reporter Tracey Davidson and its weatherman Hurricane Swartz, moderated by social media editor and event organizer DuBois, who did a smashing job. It was a distinctly different (and so thoroughly compelling) event than our group’s other two programmed events like this, one with the Philadelphia Media Network and the other with public media outfit WHYY.
The importance, sway and influence of one of the world’s most dominant 20th century newspapers was the focus of the 1998 collection of essays about the once powerful Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, edited by its former education reporter Peter Binzen, who also wrote Whitetown USA.
A central story line of the book was the Bulletin’s battle with the Inquirer, its chief rival, and how, in the end, the Inquirer, considered by many to be the chain response to the family-owned operation, won. Through all the bluster, I thought there were four primary reasons that rang most true to me:
The Bulletin fundamentally failed to innovate, remaining an afternoon daily as circulation fell with growing TV news audiences, increasing transportation costs due to traffic and changing news cycles.
The Bulletin failed to develop the revenue to stay competitive, including a premature sale of its nascent TV station, denying alcohol advertising and other funding methods that kept it lagging behind the Knight-Ridder funded Inquirer.
The Bulletin resisted aggressive editorial reconfiguration, following the investigative spirit of the 1970s that soared the reputation of the Inquirer behind editor Gene Roberts, and pushed out its own innovative editor George Packard.
The Bulletin came up short in following the suburban trend, having its 1947 purchase of the Camden Courier Post denied by the U.S. Department of Justice for anti-monopoly concerns was a large blow.
As I often do when reading something relevant to the news and innovation conversations I so adore, I wanted to share some choice thoughts from the book.
I attend a lot of hackathons, considering either I’m organizing them or sponsoring them or covering them. Though I hope to slowly change that a bit, I’m no programmer.
Still, sitting around these events has led me to conceive of and, in some cases, suggest projects that never actually happen. Maybe they someday will. Here are some that have crossed my mind:
What Neighborhood am I in? — For Philadelphia, GIS shop Azavea has a map layer for Philly neighborhoods (which are not formal political boundaries) though I’m not yet sure I completely agree with them :-). Still, that’d be a good start to a tool that could (and should) easily be brought to other cities. Give an address, intersection or your current location to find out what city neighborhood you’re in. (I’d love for this to perhaps also combine other map layers like political representative, city services including trash days, neighborhood groups and other information) **There could be a tab breaking down zip code or neighborhood-specific Census information like rental/homeownership, crime, etc. (Other ‘hood lists exist)
Parking flow chart — I thought it might be cool to have a little yes/no web app that would help drivers to decide where they can park in given situations. The GPS tool could follow parking regulations and have yes/no functionality: “are you 25 feet from a fire hydrant,” “is a weekday,” or whatever.
‘Fuck You’ world map — Translations and pronunciations of ‘Fuck You’ (or, OK, perhaps a few phrases) in as many global languages as humanly possible. Helps to see different native or national languages and learn a simple phrase.
Easy budget visualization tool — Lots of governments have PDFs or deep budget information. Some even offer some visualizations themselves, but I wonder if there could be some tool that could suck up some of that information and offer more interactive, variable and more easily updated online displays to be shared more readily.
Neighborhood news tool — For specific-enough neighborhoods or parts of the city (i.e. “West Oak Lane” or “Southwest Philadelphia” we could create RSS feeds pulling from a variety of sources.
School approval heat map — Erika will know this better than I do, but I’d bet there’s a map layer of school locations (or one could be created), though catchment is less available and more interesting, and the AYP or perhaps test school averages could be used to visualize the success of schools in different neighborhoods.
Transit black holes — A visualization of SEPTA bus/train/trolley routes (and/or frequency) and display what areas are least served.
The legacy of your work has a value harder to compare with pure money, so we should try our best to incorporate that in our professional decision making.
I’m not a professional athlete. That may surprise many of you.
Still, without any real awareness of the experience, I find myself scratching my head whenever a big name, well-paid professional athlete chooses more money over legacy. In most cases, it seems ill-advised.
I understand that with injuries threatening livelihood, athletes are smartly coached to get what upfront money they can as soon as they can. And I understand that there is often a mind-boggling amount of money on the table, but they seem to be facing on only one axis of success.
In short, the two biggest trends I feel have happened are that (a) we rely considerably less on other media than we did when we started and (b) many, many more people reach out to us directly than in the beginning. OK, that may seem obvious.
Perhaps more interesting is my overall assessment that, despite what I might want to believe, relatively few stories are based purely on a hunch, a thesis or an idea of mine. They happen — and I’m proud when they do — but, like journalists have always been, my role is still more to give context and connect dots.