Three great lessons were central David Carr’s memoir the Night of the Gun, published in 2008, which I only recently read. Carr differentiated his story from other self-described ‘junkie memoirs’ by taking two years to rigorously report on his own life, interviewing those closest and uncovering the records that might corroborate.
- Our pasts are more fungible than we would ever imagine — Surely heightened by an ugly past of addiction and violence, the New York Times columnist had created a very different memory than what, it turned out actually happened. By reporting his own life, he found, indeed, he was the one that had the gun that night (story shared in video below), in addition to quite a few other stories about violence he said he couldn’t have imagined. Most might not have that kind of extreme, but his reporting his life story does bring up an interesting reality.
- Addiction is a strenuously complicated obstacle — Having recently shared some lessons on addiction and homelessness from my time with a social services agency, it might seem obvious that I was taken by Carr’s ability to write about addiction with experience and directness.
- Stories are all about marketing — How you tell your story or another’s has everything to do with perception and direction and angle. As Carr wrote, and others took interest in, his story could either be a tidy tale of a father overcoming drugs and welfare to take custody of his twin girls, or abusive addict escaping his mistakes and misdeeds for the height of professional success. …You might have a very different take on those actually very similar stories.
A few favorites pieces shared below.
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Story Shuffle 6, with a theme of Rebirth, I remembered a lesson I learned from an old neighbor: If I don’t clean it up, someone might notice.
Find all the stories here. Listen to mine here or below.
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More than 120 people crowded into the Dorrance Hamilton Public Media Commons at WHYY to watch a data catalog unveiled. The event was a part of Philly Tech Week.
Ten dozen people, including developers, journalists, nonprofit leaders, city representatives and the curious hung around for an hour, with standing room only left, to be there when OpenDataPhilly.org officially kicked off. That says something about the Philadelphia technology community and its interest in the online transparency movement around government.
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By way of City Council resolution, it is officially Philly Tech Week.
Back in January, I first announced here this open calendar of events meant to promote technology and innovation in Philadelphia, as organized by my two colleagues and I at Technically Philly.
Thanks to our all of our sponsors, including the official Philly Tech Week headquarters WHYY, some 50 event organizers, thousands of attendees and friends, we have brought together a week-long celebration of technology and innovation featuring some 65 events across industries, focuses and interests.
Here’s the radio spot currently running on WHYY.
This morning, at a kickoff breakfast for event organizers, we launched the first ever Philly Tech Week to finish up Saturday. This afternoon, we’ll be unveiling the first catalog of City of Philadelphia data online and much more is to come.
Below, find some highlighted events:
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Media, particularly that which is meant to attract the indifference of youth, has to be more informed by the end user.
Riding the El in Philadelphia, I see this truancy ad with Bill Cosby pretty often.
Maybe I’m just cynical, but this seems so clearly to be an ad that completely ignores its audience. This ad’s message of getting kids to go to school was made by adults, for adults or by high-achieving kids, for high-achieving kids.
I’m not sure I believe that any kid who is at risk for skipping school would look at this ad and be moved to change his or her ways.
It’s a picture of an aged Bill Cosby and a pack of clean cut students, suggesting going to school ‘made me a winner.’ I don’t believe it’s compelling: nameless kids and an older celebrity. I don’t think there is anyone there who, without context, would inspire other students to follow this suggested path.
What would be compelling, I believe, is making clear the looming risks of not graduating high school.
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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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