Aspen Institute Roundtable on Local Journalism and the Public Square

How the fractured media landscape can come together in a ‘public square’ was a dominant theme of a roundtable conversation held last Thursday by the Aspen Institute in Washington D.C.

Along with fewer than 20 varied industry leaders, I heard the presentations of two new white papers from the institute, which are a follow up to the Knight Commission Report on Informing Communities.  This was the seventh in a series of roundtables.

There’s quite a bit that came from the morning session, but I wanted to start by sharing some initial takeaways on the presentions and subsequent conversation.

Norm Ornstein on Creating a New Public Square

  • Mid 20th century America created a public square with limited-choice network TV news and widely circulated newspapers. This featured ‘a common set of facts’
  • Future public squares may be varied, but there should be largely shared set of ideas.
  • This is a reason for partisanship today, a lack of shared perspective
  • Keep newspapers alive until business plans arrive — this could be seen through growth in tablet usage

Re-Imagining Journalism: Local News for a Networked World

  • If journalism was created today what would it look like?
  • $1 billion in federal spending annually on advertising, largely national, but that could be brought locally to grow public affairs on a smaller level

Questions I was left asking and interesting take aways I had:

  • The web has put a mirror to ourselves, and the web metrics question our belief in audience interest in our best product.
  • Aren’t social networks and other web-based tribes the future of the public square?
  • Can the need for heavy broadband infrastructure be someday trumped by advanced wireless technology for access
  • Steve Buttry: “We operate the only machine named in the Constitution” meaning newspapers
Number of Views:6413

Hitchhiking in South Dakota: Story Shuffle 7 audio is now live

For Story Shuffle 7, held in a fine rowhome in the Newbold section of South Philadelphia inside a beautiful and eventually stormy night, I told the story of my first hitchhiking experience in South Dakota.

My lesson: trusting in strangers is a great risk that often comes with great reward.

Check out all the stories here. Listen to mine here or by using the player below.

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Number of Views:6201

Talkadelphia: talking to podcast about Technically Philly, Philly Tech Week, business

For years, I felt there was a shortage of good, long-form podcasts in and about Philadelphia.

Last year, Talkadelphia came about and has helped, offering weekly conversations with mostly younger Philadelphians in the arts, though Kishwer and Gino have traveled a lot of ground in more than 30 episodes.

The pair visited our Technically Media offices, and we talked about Technically Philly, Philly Tech Week and starting a business. Listen to the podcast here.

Number of Views:4495

Knight Commission Report on Informing Communities: crib notes on the seminal 2009 project

Almost two years later, I read the entire Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, the report of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities.

Debuted in September 2009, I tackled the 80-page document for “the Hardly. Strictly. Young conference I attended in April at the University of Missouri, which was dedicated to brainstorming alternative recommendations for implementing that report.

Not a journalism-only report at all and backed by a year of conversation, outreach and testimony, I wanted to share my notes and thoughts on diving into the seminal report.

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Number of Views:4338

News needs to make more money on the popcorn

A friend recently told me that everyone should have at least one good analogy every few months.

He’s already heard my Journalism needs a catering business spiel, in which I suggest meaningful, public affairs reporting needs to be an audience or reputation grower for something more profitable. That is, if journalism is the low yield equivalent to a coffee shop, to really succeed, it needs a back-end catering service that really supports sustainability.

So I returned to another I tried passing: movie theaters don’t necessarily need more people in the seats, they need more people in the seats buying snacks. Because, the thinking goes (though hell if I actually know this to be true) that snacks and soda are much more profitable than your movie ticket. News needs to make more on the popcorn.

Meaning, simply chasing more eyeballs for more advertising hasn’t felt like a real strategy to me for at least a couple years now. Instead, we should be curating audiences of greater value, who are more engaged and, one way or another, help fund our work.

Technically Philly does about 22,000 unique monthly visitors, which is a fine number but nothing any big player would take notice of. But in that raw number, we are cultivating a community that comes to events [that attract sponsors], hires people within the community [and pays to use our jobs board] and, we think, will be interested in some form of membership that will offer free access to these and other opportunities [that help support the service we provide our engaged community]. In turn, we even fine haven’t an engaged and connected community has brought in some passive advertising [and resulted in actually successful campaigns] and other related funds.

Getting more people in our theater is great — and as we build community that is happening — but a bigger audience isn’t as interesting to us as a more loyal, more engaged audience, preferably one with popcorn.

Number of Views:5531

NewsWorks Tonight: talking OpenDataPhilly.org, SEPTA’s TransitView and OPA Data Liberator

NewsWorks Tonight, the daily, local, drive-time news radio program on NPR-affiliate WHYY in Philadelphia, invited me on for a segment that aired Monday about the launch of OpenDataPhilly.org and other new data initiatives.

Though I was sure to note during my interview that OpenDataPhilly was built by development shop Azavea, unfortunately that was cut in the tight finalized product.

Listen to the entire show here. Below, listen to my short segment with host Dave Heller.

In addition to OpenDataPhilly.org, Heller asks me about the OPA Data Liberator project and SEPTA’s new TransitView initiative. To be clear, while related in audience and now included in ODP, those projects were not specifically created by using the data catalog’s information.

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I was recently interviewed for WHYY on eBay’s acquisition of regional e-commerce powerhouse GSI Commerce, but this was the first time I appeared on the new local radio program, which launched in May.

Number of Views:4939

Philly Geek Awards: nominated by Geekadelphia for Philly Tech Week, Story Shuffle, Constitution Daily

As I shared on Technically Philly today, the team behind Geekadelphia, the playful geek culture blog, has announced the first ever Philly Geek Awards to take place Friday, Aug. 19 at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

I am proud to say I have my hand in three of about a dozen or so nominations. Thanks Eric and crew!

BEST NEW BLOG

BEST NEW PODCAST

BEST NEW ANNUAL LOCAL EVENT

 

 

Number of Views:5688

Art and Technology: moderating City of Philadelphia Creative Economy panel

What are examples of ways artists can leverage technology and how might the Philadelphia artistic community differentiate itself that way were topics of conversation during a panel discussion I moderated Tuesday night.

Held by Creative Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, in its gallery space at City Hall, I was charged with leading the Art and Technology event programming, our three presenters and moderating questions afterward. As anyone who knows me knows, my utility was more Technically Philly’s coverage of the intersection of arts and technology than any discernible artistic ability I might have.

I kicked off the night by offering some examples of organizations and institutions doing interesting things, as covered by TP or participating in Philly Tech Week. I then handed off to our far more competent and capable panel members.

The event was live streamed here. Some photos here. See my slides below.

Thanks much to Gary, Moira, Josh, Jeff and the staff at Creative Philadelphia for putting this, the first in a forthcoming series of events, together and for including me.

Number of Views:5079

Random Hacks of Kindness Philadelphia: organizing, judging hackathon

One half of the teams at Random Hacks of Kindness Philadlephia, held June 4-5, 2011. Photo by by Philip Neuffer for Technically Philly.

This weekend, I spent at least 30 hours in a windowless room of Drexel University for Random Hacks of Kindness Philadelphia, an international globally-minded hackathon brought to Philly by computer science PhD student and West Philly homeowner Mike Brennan.

It was actually a total hoot.

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Number of Views:4301

Fifteen businesses Philadelphia should poach from the suburbs and how they might

In a Technically Philly Entrance Exam back in March, Wil Reynolds called for reminding suburban companies of the value of being in the city: transit, regional hub, talent, quality of life, innovation and the like.

In truth, large companies followed their employees to the suburbs in the 20th century for many of those same reasons, in addition to space and taxes. I wonder if these companies would ever follow their employees back into cities. It’s tricky as Mayor Michael Nutter has repeatedly said during his tenure that he won’t compete with the region for business, and organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Economy League have been built up around lobbying for the region, not for the city in particular.

I, too, believe in the strength of the region, but I think it’s disingenuous to ignore that Philly is both the region’s face to the world and its driving force, so Philly is the hub and everything after is ancillary. Fundamentally, I believe a strong region starts with a vibrant city. That means jobs to me. (Philly and Pittsburgh each have five Fortune 500 businesses headquartered there)

When I look at Philadelphia regional employers of large size, I can’t help but think of courting them for Philadelphia locations. It makes my blood curdle when I think of Philadelphia leaders who transplanted from homes in, say, New York but upon relocating here, they go to the ‘burbs. Admittedly, there are a lot of cultural and perception issues that go along with that, but I think jobs and high-profile businesses is a big part of that. So I got to thinking how you’d pitch these companies… and why it might never work.

Below is my list of businesses to chase and dissection of how.

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Number of Views:6631