MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer: notes on dinner with the founder of the profitable news nonprofit

MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer has dinner with a collection of Philadelphia journalism stakeholders.

A small group of journalism practitioners in Philadelphia were treated with the chance to have dinner and throw questions at MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer Tuesday night. Kramer is the former publisher of the Minneapolis Start-Tribune and a frequent example of success in growing public affairs journalism online.

I was blessed to be among them and certainly took the chance to ask an array of questions about his efforts of building a statewide public policy news nonprofit that I haven’t seen answered in the considerable coverage of his efforts.

Among the celebrated local news representatives there was the newly named CEO of the local journalism institute at Temple, Neil Budde.

Though much more was handled in the 90-minute conversation that followed a public Q&A session that I heard was well-attended and lively, I wanted to share some notes I took out of this more intimate, though on-the-record, setting.

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Neil Budde named founding CEO of Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network [Press Release]

Neil Budde, founding editor and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Online

News has broken of the new CEO of the multi-million dollar journalism initiative housed at Temple, a project I’ve written about before here, but I hadn’t seen any confirmation posted yet, so I thought I’d share the press release from Temple that was sent my way.


PHILADELPHIA – The Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater (www.cpijournalism) has named Neil Budde as the founding CEO of the Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network (PPIIN).

Budde (pronounced buddy) will lead the development of PPIIN (a placeholder name until the organization is founded and branded), a collaborative organization intended to help increase the amount and quality of news and information in the Greater Philadelphia region. It is funded through a $2.4 million grant to the School of Communications and Theater from the William Penn Foundation.

Budde was hired for his demonstrated management skills in enterprises involving journalism and technology, and his experience in anticipating and successfully accommodating for innovations and trends. Budde was most recently executive vice president at ePals and president of DailyMe, a start-up focused on delivering personalized news and information. Prior to this, Budde served as editor in chief of Yahoo News and founding editor and publisher of The Wall Street Journal Online (WSJ.com). Budde was also involved nationally in the Online News Association, serving on its board for five years, and The News Literacy Project.

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Notes on bold change for the Philadelphia Media Network, regardless of who the owners are, and why it won’t happen

Ownership concerns be damned, the publisher of the largest news organization in one of the largest markets in the country needs to make a major shake up in company structure and output or face a continued decline.

The Philadelphia Media Network, owners of the city’s two daily newspapers and most trafficked news site, announced almost 40 more editorial layoffs and buyouts this month, prompting speculation of another sale. The perception of leadership at the paper has been seriously damaged with a growing number of reports of editorial interference, particularly around coverage of the potential sale, though they’ve happened before.

Fears have risen that an investor group led by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell could be a biased fifth owner in six years for the company. News of what damage bias could do the organization has clouded the root frustration that the company is failing.

While ownership bias has dominated the coverage, I’m most concerned that no one whose news innovation vision garners much contemporary respect is at the organization’s helm. That’s what is most keeping rhythm to the slow drumbeat of expectations for failure that has been heralded for a decade.

Below, find some initial, broad thoughts on how the organization might be reshaped.

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There are no good U.S. presidents, just good times to be president

When one looks at the depths of U.S. presidential politics, there is a balance between who is perceived as having succeeded and who has failed.

We write thick biographies and create college courses on the considerable accomplishments of our favorites. In pragmatic contrast, there is an old saw that means to convey how much federal structure has been built up over time.

The only two decisions a president gets to make are when to drop the bomb and where to put the library.

It’s with that logic that I’ve found myself feeling a certain sense of predetermined indifference. I’ve long loved following local politics more than federal, on the whole, because it’s my belief that those actors impact my life in a far more tangible way than those federally.

There are no good U.S. presidents, just good times to be president.

Good times

  • When a new gamechanging technology is invented, like the Internet
  • When there is an enemy of state, like after 9/11
  • Right after a global recession, like perhaps next term

Bad times

  • When there is a global recession, like now
  • When there is a hostage situation, late in your second term.
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Quirky Tumblr accounts I wish were active

I’m a fan of the fun collections of ideas, images and concepts that find their way onto personal Tumblr accounts, often driven by crowdsourcing contributions.

Recently a handful of ideas have come to mind that I wish were actively being created by someone. I’d happily contribute.

  1. Ridiculous local TV lower thirds — As depicted above, the foolishness of TV news is often good for absurd, accidentally ironic or just downright idiotic messages and descriptions in text on news casts.
  2. Vanity license plates — A few efforts have started and stumbled, but a collection of great vanity license plates is too good to be missed. This is probably one I’m most suited to start myself, considering I’ve exchanged picture messages of these with my family for years.
  3. Fat men eating ice cream cones — Next time you’re downtheshore or at a vacation spot, you’ll find them. And it will make you smile.
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Social entrepreneurship should be Philadelphia’s regional distinction: my Pecha Kucha presentation

Social entrepreneurship is an opportunity for Philadelphia to create a regional distinction for attracting and retaining startup talent, was the central theme of my Pecha Kucha presentation Saturday night.

It was an extension of my writing on social entrepreneurship here.

The lightning talk event, in which a dozen speakers use 20 seconds for each of 20 images to give a five-minute perspective, was having its ninth iteration locally, after having been launched by graphic designers in Tokyo in 2004. See the slides from the presentation below.

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Eric Smith of Geekadelphia says very nice things about me after I made fun of his work publicly [Video]

My good friend Eric Smith, whose successes in publishing and audience have kept me motivated, wrote some very flattering things in celebration of his own birthday, mostly about how we love to faux battle by way of our respective geek blogs Geekadelphia and Technically Philly. An excerpt:

… Without realizing it, Chris had finally given me the greatest gift of all… playful competition. I love being able to throw a jab at him now and again via Twitter or on the blog. Mocking him when I see the buzzwords flying… I should list that as an interest on my Facebook profile. I’m thrilled when I hear about a local PR firm thinking Chris and I (aka Technically Philly and Geekadelphia) hate each other. When he gave his keynote speech during the first Philly Tech Week, I ruined his moment with a tweet (this was an accident though!). When he received an award at the Geek Awards, he slammed the hell out of Geekadelphia, and I loved it.

But despite the joking around… Chris makes me want to be better at what I do.

Below watch video of my Geek Awards presentation when I had a little fun at Geekadelphia’s expense, though their fans let me hear it.

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