My cofounder Brian Kirk and our lead reporter Juliana Reyes joined me on the stage at this second annual Philly Geek Awards to introduce two categories. As last year, it was a special event and a great opportunity to poke a little at our friends and award show organizers Geekadelphia.
Watch me do something similar at the inaugural awards last year here. See a full recap of this year’s vent here.
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There is no shortage of jokes and jabs at corporate jargon. But here’s another.
Though the Internet has its fair share of lists and collections and compilations and generators, I felt too few of them actually helped remind us what they really meant and why they’re so hated — a PC obfuscation of business politics.
So this isn’t meant to be as comprehensive as the ones above, but rather a set of ones I really hear and have really come to understand to have a different, somewhat more subtle meaning.
In the past few years, I’ve gotten a taste of some and felt it took time to learn the most common underlying meaning. I use a lot of these words and phrases, and I don’t necessarily think that’s all that bad. Instead, I list them to help remind myself that I can often be more direct. Here’s my best shot at helping the cause for the rest of us.
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This year, I have hired three reporters and worked with a handful of freelancers.
Here are some things I’ve learned about the process:
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If we are to build cities based in the so-called knowledge economy, one of the primary methods for judging its success should be very familiar: net exports.
In culture, ideas, concepts, general intellectual capital and, yes, even businesses and organizations, it may be worth questioning whether your city is mostly taking from others or mostly giving to others. Indeed, one wouldn’t only want to export knowledge — we always want to take ideas from others to get better — but a good sign of the success of a healthy region is the clustering of smart, creative people and their creating ideas, projects, businesses, ideas that are worth being shared elsewhere.
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The internet doesn’t forget. So I often stockpile perspective (links) for the future.
In 2009, we at Technically Philly were digging our heels into looking at how diversify revenue for a local community news site. In the end, the largest driver turned out to be events, specifically the annual Philly Tech Week we organize. Before then and after some advertising, jobs board and light underwriting revenue, we toyed with donations, gettingsome prominent support and the requisite pushback.
In all the experimentation back then, I saved some great insight, much of which has been relevant lately. As we move back to a new form of that older conversation, I wanted to share a few takeaways from my reading back in 2009.
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Updated I gave a presentation similar to this theme to a pair of college classes recently, one of which resulted in these takeaways.
To have a news community ‘succeed,’ it needs to either be built around a mission or the mission needs to be built into its community.
That means, if, for the foreseeable future, a more competitive, newly web-based news and information environment best attracts audience by way of connecting a community to a mission, those best suited to succeed will have one.
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Afterlife planning and the legal profession that supports it seem to be lagging behind our cultural realities.
Last year, I did something that I don’t think many, if any, of my friends, peers and similarly-aged colleagues have: I paid a lawyer to draft me up a formal will. Something seemed missing, though, as I went through the process.
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A functioning local news ecosystem, one that has mechanisms to ask tough questions and serve as a hub of a common set of facts for a region, seems to have some straightforward ingredients.
What traditionally drove a functioning modern news ecosystem (20th century)
- PROFITABLE – Funding mechanism (advertising)
- AUDIENCE – Mass dissemination tool (front page or TV news top)
- COMPETITIVE – Connected network of reporters (newsroom) and competing mass audiences
- IMPACT – Investigative journalism (ideological and financial subsidy)
- DEPTH – Robust, focused news coverage (niche newspaper beat reporting)
What this might look like in the near future (and in some ways now)
- PROFITABLE – Funding mechanism (patchwork of profitable sites, technologies, new orgs with journalism DNA and more focused legacy, philanthropic outlets)
- AUDIENCE – Mass dissemination tool (top-level aggregation, applications) to service fractured landscape made up of far smaller, much deeper niche communities
- COLLABORATIVE – Connected network of reporters (news coworking), link building, partnership-driven, fewer big players, more smaller oens
- IMPACT – Investigative journalism (new nonprofit organizations, journalism DNA), bigger audience for community-focused efforts
- DEPTH – Robust, focused news coverage (crowd sourcing, social media, niche blogs and indie sites)
So looking at your market, what is lacking? Set about serving that role.
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In most regions across the country, cultural assets are shared widely but problems aren’t. It’s a mindset we should try to change.
This perspective came up at an event I helped organize a couple months ago, and it’s still rattling around in my head as I try to work out its meaning.
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Revenue models for local journalism are still quickly being siphoned off from prospective journalism creators of the future.
We’ve had no shortage of hand-wringing around the future of news in recent years. As I see it, simple access to news and information won’t be the problem of the future, since publishing keeps getting easier which adds to the number of sources (though creating the infrastructure to have a broad set of common facts locally might be. Still that’s another issue for another post).
Instead, I am far more concerned about the future of local journalism. (I am not talking about international war reporting or national politics, as those audiences can be relatively so large that I trust in niche players, like Propublica and the New York Times finding a foothold). Instead, I’m talking about state houses, city halls, niche communities and neighborhoods.
The loss (or failure to recreate) journalism in those places is my greatest fear for the future of asking tough questions and what professionally keeps me awake at night more than almost anything else.
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