Should your business use an independent contractor or hire a full-time employee?

Following President Obama’s much hyped jobs speech, small business owners have been discussing the direct ramifications for if his proposals were enacted by Congress.

My Technically Media colleagues and I were specifically interested in these details, as provided by the New York Times:

“The centerpiece of the American Jobs Act is an extension and expansion of the cut in payroll taxes, worth $240 billion, under which the tax paid by employees would be cut in half through 2012. Smaller businesses would also get a cut in their payroll taxes, as well as a tax holiday for hiring new employees.” Also: $4k to any business that hires an employee that has been looking for a job for six months.

Beyond the fact that those proposals aren’t actually in place yet, I wanted to share the basic, common reasons for why independent contractors and freelancers are still the way of the world, particularly in publishing.

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ONA Philly September: NewsWorks from WHYY one year after launching [VIDEO]

Photo by Dan Victor

Nearly a year after launching, the team behind the NewsWorks community-driven online news effort from WHYY, the Philadelphia public media organization, shared its lessons. It was the third event from a revived local chapter of the Online News Association.

After an hour of beer donated by Boxcar Brewing, sandwiches from the Trolleycar Diner and pretzels from the Center City Soft Pretzel Co., I kicked off the night and introduced WHYY editorial chief Chris Satullo.

Satullo and Don Henry, two of the many leading faces behind the NewsWorks initiative, shared five tasks they got right and five tasks they got wrong. Text of them all and video of the first few below.

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Number of Views:5398

#wjchat: curating Business of Journalism discussion on popular journalists Twitter discussion

The Business of Journalism was the focus of the 82nd episode of the popular, national #wjchat Twitter chat Wednesday night, and I’m happy to say I hosted the affair.

Check the archived chat here.

Below check out the Storify, I put together highlighting some of the more interesting responses to the series of questions put out by the facilitator. As host, I was meant to drive conversation, outreach and use any expertise I had on the subject.

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Number of Views:3313

Open city data in Philadelphia: the obstacles and triumphs of the L&I example

A screenshot of a draft of the License to Inspect tool, built by Azavea for PlanPhilly using the new L&I app. Click to enlarge.

A feature story covering the as-yet unreleased Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections API-based online tool ‘License to Inspect,’ its inspiration and hope was published on Technically Philly Monday, a story I reported and wrote during the last couple months.

It is the last major feature of the Transparencity grant project I’ve been leading, and one of the more detailed investigative reports I’ve done in my journalism career. The feature, which details the nearly two-year struggle to go public with a project with internal support, is meant to show the lessons learned and obstacles faced in the hopes that future city agencies can more efficiently release their data publicly for development and citizen use.

Give it a read, for lessons to be taken for any local government. and then find some of what didn’t make it into the piece below.

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Number of Views:2459

How 9/11 helped shape New York City for the better

The New York 9/11 terrorist attack site view on Sept. 12, 2001 from the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus camera on NASA's Landsat 8. Click to see original. H/t Gizmodo

Nearly 3,000 people are said to have died 10 years ago in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, perhaps more if some first responder deaths are to be included.

That is brutal and sobering and tragic and heartbreaking.

TL;DR — Why I believe the pain of 9/11 helped shape NYC for the better.

  • A long history exists between pain and strength.
  • After 9/11, Americans embraced New York City as patriot territory.
  • After the attacks, an even stronger NYC identity has developed.
  • Following that day, NYC is now protected by more of a veil of patriotism than it perhaps has ever had.
  • Why I wrote this: To argue that a dramatic shift in our national perspectives on NYC changed after 9/11 and it has largely benefited the city.

I grew up in northwest New Jersey, a rural enclave in the New York City region. Like many others there, my parents were from the city and arrived an hour west chasing suburban sprawl. Much of my family still lives in and around that city. They worked in and around the Twin Towers. A couple times a year, my parents would take my sister and me to Manhattan for nice dinners with family; I always wanted to play sandlot baseball or get lost in the woods instead.

I was a sophomore in high school sitting in English class that September Tuesday, but I don’t want to rehash my story. Plenty are doing that and, quite frankly, they are doing a better job of it than I can. Moreover, many people with whom I was in class had parents or other close family working there or near to the buildings. I didn’t, after some confirmation, so my personal story isn’t compelling.

Instead, I want to suggest what might be considered a rather unsettling thought, but I think it’s an important one.

That the most costly, most visual portion of the Sept. 11 attacks in lower Manhattan have, looking back at the last 10 years, been good for New York City.

People died. Real people. At a different time, my uncles, or cousin or sister could have very likely been in that number. Philosophy isn’t developed enough for us to understand why not. Very little is ever worth death. But, I believe, these attacks have propelled New York City to first city status among the few generations of Americans alive for 9/11 in a way that nothing else ever could.

I am not a resident of New York City. Never have been. The city was around me — literally and by means of familial roots, but, no, I wasn’t there that morning and know little of that moment. My arguments here rely most heavily on outside perception, so having roots and family there, but being distant enough to evaluate that perception is a strength, I believe.

Now let me tell you why the idea that something so painful could be beneficial is not only plausible, it is clear.

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Number of Views:6320

New Media Unplugged: Technically Philly hosts indie publishers event with 215mag.com as part of #UncappedLive series

A variety of strategies and expectations remain, but online media conversations can’t happen in good conscious without at least a glancing mention of business sustainability.

That was my first takeaway from the New Media Unplugged #UncappedLive event held at the historic Sigma Sound Studios in Center City Philadelphia Tuesday night.

On behalf of Technically Philly, I hosted the event with Tayyib Smith of 215mag.com and led the conversation, featuring a half dozen five-minute introductions from niche publishers seated in chairs amongst 40 attendees in the room, decorated wildly by lead sponsor Vitamin Water and featuring free samples of Heineken Light, which didn’t turn out to be half bad.

See below some of what I learned.

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Number of Views:3018

Local media should be more local on first reference, says Philadelphia man

If you cover a big city with rambling and varied regions and neighborhoods, your reporting and writing should reflect that.

Yet, from a culture of journalism that cycled reporters through various markets to urban decay that encouraged too many of them to live outside those big cities they covered, one of the more common complaints I have from established, legacy media is a frightening disconnect from where they report.

There’s surely no better example of that than the wildly popular Right NEast/Wrong NEast column from Northeast Philadelphia hyperlocal news site NEast Philly, which skewers the very common mistakes by TV and newspapers here, when the get the wrong neighborhood name, street name or worse: tiny details that matter very little to reporters who have never been to those places but matter a great deal to those who live there.

But there’s a more subtle example of this that has long frustrated me, particularly here in Philadelphia.

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Technically Media team head shots by Colin M. Lenton Photography

My Technically Media colleagues Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I kept running into situations where we needed headshots or team photos.

Even as a startup, for conferences and speaking engagements, we’d send out photos taken by friends or shots that had landed on Facebook and we realized we needed something a bit more formal.

So, as noted last week on our company blog, we worked with Philadelphia Photographer Colin M. Lenton, whom we know from our college newspaper days, at his rental photo studio in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia. We’re really pleased with the results. See the low resolution versions on our company Facebook page here.

(As noted here a couple months ago, we actually had a few fun shots taken by another great Philadelphia photographer, Neal Santos, but that just in preparation for another photo shoot altogether and weren’t formal headshots.)

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You have to be far enough away to be seen: Story Shuffle 8 (Anniversaries)

Another Story Shuffle, this the 8th, the one year anniversary celebration and a theme of Anniversaries, was held in my Fishtown rowhome last week.

I told the story of Voyager II, an un-manned spacecraft sent out 34 years earlier in order to go farther than we ever have before. Like other ships send to deep space, it had to get far enough away so it could be seen, a subject I found fitting for both the space program and our own depiction of ourselves.

Give it a listen below or find all the stories here.

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Number of Views:4651

Glengarry Glen Ross: 10 sales lessons from the 1992 cult classic movie

Sales tactics to lead and those to avoid are seemingly peppered throughout the classic, star-studded, independent black comedy Glengarry Glen Ross from 1992 that I finally got to watch — after quoting clips for years.

“We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Anyone wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired,” says the character Blake, setting the mood early on.

As you might expect, there are some takeaways to be had.

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Number of Views:43795