Data, context and engagement were the themes of the Hardly. Strictly. Young. event at the University of Missouri Reynolds Journalism Institute this week, says Michael Maness, the Knight Foundation Vice President of Journalism and Media Innovation.
Also read a Columbia Journalism Review overview from fellow attendee, new friend and total asshole Craig Silverman, who takes the opportunity to poke fun at me. (I forgive him.)
The two-day conference meant for brainstorming alternative recommendations to implement a 2009 Knight Commission report was something of an idea-hackathon.
Though I arrived on Saturday to couchsurf in St. Louis first, the confab kicked off with a welcome dinner Sunday night and was made mostly of rotating groups of us 30 members discussing implementation ideas Monday and presenting those ideas Tuesday. The goal was to create real ideas for implementation.
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Late at a bar in my neighborhood, a friend asked me: how are you innovative?
His general assessment was that Technically Media, a consultancy, and Technically Philly, a news site, weren’t particularly innovative or interesting for 2011. We’re an online-based startup of 20-somethings creating journalism-fueled content. That might barley bass for envelope-pushing in the late 1990s.
Sure, we think editorial strategy — in which all organizations create content to build audience to have impact — is interesting, and that’s a big part of what we’re doing, but I wasn’t satisfied.
So I’m going to share what I came to: the five criteria of news entities of the future.
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Last year, I left a position at a homeless advocacy nonprofit and returned to the journalism startup I helped launch. After sharing last month some of the member interviews I collected while working at Back on My Feet, I realized there were other lessons I wanted to share.
I worked for Back on My Feet for less than a year and while there, I wasn’t deep into our programming work, but rather promoting the organization by way of sharing member stories, using social media, managing our website and even working with traditional media contacts. You know, and growing staff interest in content creation, most notably video, like these 15 best examples.
But, you can rest assured that I tried to learn as much as I could with my time there about the social services work and agencies on which our mission and some of my colleagues focused. I was blessed with serving a role that let me meet, speak and share with more of our members than most any of our staff, outside those serving direct care.
I encouraged our staff to use our blog as a way to share homelessness news, and I myself curated weekly news roundups on the subject. I also picked the brains of anyone I came in contact with in or outside ‘the system’ as it is often called.
Given all that, I thought I might share just some of what comes to mind as take aways and lessons from the world of homelessness, particularly in Philadelphia.
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Yesterday, Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green tweeted something interesting to me:
“Here’s the @TechnicallyPHL article I just referenced during the Police Dept budget hearing http://bit.ly/er1mnf”
The article he referenced was some coverage I did of the Philadelphia Police Department using open source technology for its website and utilizing social media for canvassing communities for tips.
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Dallas News reporter John Rosenfield sitting at desk, behind typewriter in Houston, TX in November 1948. Photo by Michael Rougier for Life magazine.
Tradition matters to me.
It gives us culture. It is a way to pay remembrance for those who came before. Yes, it’s a little bit fun.
In the world of news, there is a lot of tradition that needs to be lost. Unquestioned impartiality, balance without real context, an ignorance and distance of what funds it, a rigid belief in a strictly reactionary audience.
But, I’ve always felt, there is lot to be taken in from the past. I’ve been blessed to work alongside some talented and hungry older journalists who have imparted great wisdom on me. I thought some of that tradition was worth sharing as, in my own way, I try to preserve the best of it.
Below, find 25 pieces of advice about being a newsman that I take great value in.
Number of Views:14964
Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green introducing a Resolution formally calling April 25-30, 2011 as Philly Tech Week, flanked by Councilman Brian O'Neill at left and Councilman Wilson Goode at right, with Sean Blanda and myself, in City Council chambers the morning of April 7, 2011.
With the passage of Resolution 110218, Philadelphia City Council officially named the last six days of April officially as Philly Tech Week, as celebrated with a reading of the resolution in council chambers Thursday morning.
There, my colleague Sean Blanda and I, two of the three co-founders of Technically Philly and organizers of Philly Tech Week, received an embossed copy of the resolution from Councilman Bill Green, who introduced the legislation, and Councilmen Brian O’Neill and Wilson Goode, who co-sponsored the measure. I addressed council briefly to note two things: that (1) technology and the Digital Philadelphia vision is more than just gadgets and (2) the Philly Tech Week resolution featured two dozen groups and organizations because the technology community is so broad.
These resolutions can be a little silly, but they do serve as validation of the interest and growth of the technology community in Philadelphia. It was an honor to represent the community, even though we’re only a small part of its growth.
Below, watch my brief remarks and see the notes that I should have prepared.
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I’ve been invited to the Hardly. Strictly. Young. conference on alternative ways to implement Knight Foundation recommendations at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri [More on that later]. One of the fun precursors to the two-day event later this month has been participating in the Journalism Carnival of blogging, shepherded by conference organizer, Spot.Us founder and leather jacket-wearer David Cohn.
In January, I wrote about the role universities should play in creating journalism, and in February wrote about two ways to grow the number of news sources. In March, I was supposed to write on what the Knight News Challenge should do next and how the RJI fellows program could be a part of curating that innovation.
Fortunately, in being late, I can point to others who already did it better than I would. No, Cohn, this isn’t a cop out, this is cutting my losses. The undercurrent on both of these questions for me is that I’m not worried about the craft as much as I’m worried about sustaining the craft.
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Larry Summers, former Harvard president and National Economic Council director, asleep in an April 2009 meeting. Courtesy of IvyGate
During presentations, we at Technically Media have talked about our failures. We do a lot of speaking (me too), so we’ve also touched on the power of working in threes.
But I think we haven’t touched on what I think is our most innovative reason for sticking together for more than two years: our meeting style. And the power of drag of meetings are important to us.
OK, yah, it sounds pretty boring, and, well, maybe it is, but if you ask about our success (whatever it is) I think it has quite a bit to do with the meetings we’ve almost always held, from the very beginning.
It’s largely a style I’ve advocated for years that has now been further evolved, practiced and cemented into our culture with a lot of follow through from two colleagues who really buy into it and have crafted it on their own. So much do I prefer our meetings over others I often find myself getting into, that I often find myself bringing the style elsewhere.
You can see advice from Google and a startup.
Below, I share a typical agenda from a Technically Philly meeting, some unwritten rules we’ve adopted for these meetings and the phrases you’d be sure to hear at each of our meetings.
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After a couple years of resisting, we at Technically Philly went ahead with a bit of some April Fools’ Day fun.
Yes, we, the Technically Philly crew, announced we were moving to New York, and then followed that up with hourly news items that were a bit less than real. We put them in an ‘April Fools’ category, colored the post background pink and avoided too negative posts, all in the interest of combating annual newsroom concerns about breaking news trust. We’re also deleting the posts next week, so they don’t get caught in search for the future.
Posts we ran:
- Technically Philly to relocate, rebrand as Technically New York
- First Round Capital invests in cheesesteak, Rocky references
- Port Richmond still has no Fortune 500 company
- Ignite Philly changes to stodgy 20-minute, 5-slide format
- Regional video game business leader Mike Werth “still stuck on Level 5-3 of Super Mario Brothers”
- Google to pit cities in epic cage match for Gigabit access
- Azavea to release GIS tool to map all Philadelphians who know what GIS is
- Comcast to host NBC acquisition parade down Broad Street
The reactions were great. Some were surprised, some weren’t. There was a lot of love from many people, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Councilman Bill Green.
Below are some headlines I suggested that didn’t make the cut.
- Company moves to Center City, ‘taxes actually pretty sweet,” CEO says
- ‘New city sustainability czar admits not knowing what ‘LEED’ actually means’
- ‘BREAKING: Inquirer reports on new co-working phenomenon’
- Penn Professor completes ENIAC defrag
- Duck Duck Go Founder: “When it comes down to it, Ask Jeeves remains the web’s best search experience”
- Mayor Nutter: “Wordpress is for pussies”
- Geekadelphia to turn editorial focus to pharmaceutical, biotech — “Ever since Sean Blanda whooped on me in Starcraft, I knew we needed a new niche,” Mikey Il said.
- With new website, BRT shares more bullshit tax info faster
- Mayor Nutter announces 811 to reduce call stress on 311
- City Controller: city needs new oversight group to oversee other oversight groups
- Census: Philly population actually closer to 2,500
- Philly Startup Leaders new residency requirements encourages entrepreneurs ‘to get the hell out of this town’
- Josh Kopelman: ‘What I really want to be is a dancer’
- Nat Mechanics to become Long John Silvers
- Philly Cocoa Heads challenges Philly CHI to Jell-o wrestling contest
- Safeguard Scientifics: Wait, who are all of you?
- Entrepreneur slyly changes his LinkedIn location to NYC — “Philly is so much cheaper, but I really really want my friends to think I live in New York.”
- Pew: “78% of poor people don’t know Pew”
- John Street still on line for new iPad [Sean had iPhone idea]
- City Council President Anna Verna “has an idea for a pretty sweet Facebook app”
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