Entrepreneurship has a legacy of leaders who got started early. That sense of independence, experimentation and motivation to be challenged appears to often be a natural instinct.
When I started Technical.ly in early 2009, I had no experience or real awareness of entrepreneurship. We’ve learned a lot, and in truth, I still remain a relatively inexperienced founder, but I have taken and enjoyed this early entrepreneurial experience.
Christopher Wink, who founded the Technical.ly network of local technology sites in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and other cities, was one of the mentors that Al Jazeera brought in for the event — which pulled together 90 participants from 37 countries, out of more than 1,600 applications. He has a blog post in which he lists some of his favorite projects, and almost all of them seem like they could help make the job of a journalist easier, or in some way expand the practice of news (there’s another good list here). [[MORE]]
Paypal cofounder, public intellectual and global tech entrepreneurship leader Peter Thiel is thoughtful in his perspective on economic growth. An interview with him was on our last Technical.ly podcast and an even longer conversation he had on a different podcast was even more enlightening.
A Technical.ly Philly reader sent a photo our way of SEPTA transit agency maps with a prominent station’s name renamed to reflect a nearby hospital chain, suggesting a possible sponsorship deal. Then our editor Zack Seward reported it out and we shared the item as an interesting possibility — SEPTA appropriately demurred from comment.
Then the name change was actually announced a week later.
If you were setting out to launch a local, city-wide, civic affairs and breaking news outfit today, there are a few clear first steps I’d encourage you to take. Understand deeply and succinctly why and for whom you are doing this. Plan clearly how you hope to sustain the thing, and have a rough idea of what you think the thing might be.
So I’m assuming that work is already done for Billy Penn, just such an effort here in Philadelphia that is soon-to-be-launched by Jim Brady, a news media executive popular in national online media circles, and Chris Krewson, a former Philadelphia Inquirer online editor who has returned after several years on the West Coast.
Now let’s think about what comes next.
The Committee of Seventy is a 110-year-old local good government activist group known best in Philadelphia for its oversight of city elections. With the retirement of their popular newsman-turned-leader, the nonpartisan nonprofit is seeking a new Executive Director. This is also a unique opportunity for the group to update how it can best serve its mission to combat corruption. It has a clear alignment with public affairs journalism — something other mission groups should learn from.
For my undergraduate academic year 2004-2005, I was a policy intern at Seventy, spanning outgoing director Zack Stalberg and his predecessor Fred Voigt, whom I also interviewed for a college thesis project. From then through to my Election Day volunteering, I’ve long been inspired by their work.
But like Stalberg was meant to do when he replaced Voigt, Seventy is again in need of an updated look at how it can best accomplish their goals. If I were to launch an organization with the goals Seventy has today, in an era with newfound opportunities to build civic-orientated coalitions, web publishing for audience building would certainly be part of the strategy.
Doing acts of journalism to inform a community have always had different approaches. There are those who follow one community closely and those who offer the broader narrative to a wider audience.
In news parlance, it’s the beat reporter and the features writer, and it’s tied to the idea of choosing deeper impact or larger scale. I’ve developed a better understanding of the differences in these specialties over the last few years, in both hiring, following and familiarizing myself with the work of my peers.
Printed media are inflexible, expensive and in-viral, and that’s why its utility will last. That’s what I told nearly 100 mostly older, more established attendees of the annual American Association of Independent News Distributors conference inside the Times Square Crowne Plaza May 1. Looking on it now, having not been given my context, my words were likely a little surprising and surely unusual.
To promote his new book ‘Things a Little Bird Told Me,’ Twitter cofounder Biz Stone was at the Free Library of Philadelphia for a ticketed, breakfast event for which I interviewed him on stage for a half-hour before audience questions finished the morning.
My line of questions can be seen here. I tried to to steer the conversation away from what has already been said by Stone, a well-covered tech entrepreneur who is in the midst of a popular book tour, but we still hit upon some of what has already been covered: the designer by trade has focused on bringing the human touch to software.
That helps explain how decidedly simple Twitter is and how Stone’s new startup Jelly, a network-driven answer app, has stayed focused on getting social responses.