Recap of Barcamp News Innovation 2016

The 8th annual Barcamp News Innovation was the best attended yet. This annual unconference on the future of news welcomed more than 175 journalists, editors and other media makers interested in trends and best practices.

We at Technically Media have always produced it at and with Temple University’s School of Media Communications. For the first time, this year we hosted the day-long event in the fall, rather than late in the spring, which allowed perhaps nearly two dozen students to attend. Despite being free for students (just $15 for professionals), we’ve never had much turnout for those about to begin their careers. This year worked.

I wanted to share a few lessons and notes that stuck with me below.

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In defense of “Off the Record” and back room conversations

Transparency is a modern virtue.

Its pursuit is among the more commonly inalienable constants of news media. But like a child who needs to be exposed to germs to develop resistance, we can benefit from some level of privacy among leaders. Transparency of power can lead to polarization. Some conversations need to be worked out in private.

Of course that doesn’t sit quite right with many newsrooms — or among many civic minded people. A symbolic scourge of journalism is the back room conversation — dealmaking without public discourse.

But it’s so much more complicated.

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Journalism is a strategy, not an industry

Journalism is a strategy, not an industry.

Newsrooms should rethink their competition. Journalism organizations are in dozens of different businesses. What we share in common (journalism DNA) makes us more partners than adversaries. The many businesses that are competing for the revenue and not providing other community value, like service journalism, are the real competition.

This was the focus of a lightning pitch I gave this weekend at the national Online News Association annual conference in Denver. Below find my slides, audio and some tweet reactions I received.

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Acts of journalism that aren’t written articles

Because the modern concept of journalism was developed inside newspaper newsrooms, we’ve stayed stuck on the idea that journalism only looks one way: written words with a feature lede and nut graf.

Maybe a photo essay. Or an editorial cartoon. Or nonfiction book. Radio and TV reports too can cut the pass. But we know what form comes to mind first when journalism is invoked: writing and editing long, multi-source feature stories, likely to put into some print publication. That has to adapt.

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Beat reporters: stop hanging out with other journalists and spend more time with your community

I say this fully admitting I’m an active, proud and lively member of the Pen and Pencil Club, a private journalist’s association and bar in my hometown Philadelphia.

Journalists, especially community and beat reporters, should spend a lot more time with their communities than with other in news media. For sure, you can get great professional development and important understanding from meeting with your colleagues. But count up the number of hours you spend with other reporters and compare it with your community in person: which one is the bigger number?

This was among my clearest points from a talk I gave at the third annual Entrepreneurial Journalism Educators Summit organized by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Below are my slides and some notes.

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The news business is the only where the CEO isn’t meant to control controversy

This summer, I was really proud to receive a leadership award from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The next day the local tech news site I cofounded, Technical.ly, ran a highly critical analysis of that school’s signature business plan competition and widely panned it as having lacked any real successes in 15 years.

Awkward.

A year ago, we replaced me as Editor in Chief and I have been transitioning to more of a publisher (connecting and overseeing business and editorial). The experience brings up an interesting reminder of my role in a news organization I helped found but no longer have complete control over.

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Innovation in Philadelphia Q&A with Dilworth Paxon CEO Ajay Raju and me

How are so-called innovation clusters happening across the country and in Philadelphia specifically? Alongside Dilworth Paxson law firm CEO Ajay Raju, I was interviewed on the subject over drinks at Parc on Rittenhouse Park.

The interview was for Temple University law school’s blog and came in a two-part series from a Temple law professor and transcribed by a precocious law student.

Read part one here, in which we talk about Philadelphia’s own development of a tech and entrepreneurship communit

Read part two here, in which we talk about what that development can mean for the rest of Philadelphia.

Entrepreneurs often start early: here are 5 of my own examples

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.

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Al Jazeera hackathon imagines the future of news [GigaOm]

Gigaom’s Matthew Ingram recapped the Aljazeera hackathon that brought me to Qatar over Thanksgiving. I got a mention in his nice write-up. His words:

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]]