One of the first questions I ask younger reporters when I meet them is which is their first love: the reporting or the writing. Storytelling, as the form is euphemistically categorized, is very old. The ways we report and write, too, have old origins, but their forms adapt with the times. They change constantly. I bet your industry has a similar kind of split, subtly different pathways to the professional work.
I first met Miami founder Michael Hall in early 2016 when I reported a feature on and hosted an event with the entrepreneurship community there. Since then, I’ve spent time with him a handful of times, at SXSW, over dinner and during another pair of trips I made to Miami.
He’s a charming and humble explorer in his and other startup communities, friendly enough to share with others what he learns along the way. So I was tickled to join him on the second season of his popular on-going weekly video podcast interview series called 2Techies, in which he interviews others involved in tech communities.
See it here, or watch it below with a few notes from our conversation.
If a journalist covers her beat well enough, one of the more frequent challenges she’ll face is negotiating when to report something, if a source is requesting an embargo.
That was one of the main points during a session I helped lead during the annual conference of the National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) about finding and reporting a niche.
Be more explicit with your team when you’re offering an opinion, a recommendation or stating a direct ask. Otherwise, a teammate might not know whether you’re sharing an idea or a demand.
It’s something I’m still learning and something I shared when I was interviewed on a podcast called ‘The Blind Entrepreneur.”
Host Johnathan Grzybowski helpfully has fuller show notes on the site here, where you can watch the episode. Find it below too.
The sixth annual Baltimore Innovation Week has already kicked off, and so I’ve been thinking, as I always do, about what’s different or special this year.
I bylined a challenging profile of a Philly tech community member that published on Technical.ly last week. It was a 30-interview, 7,000-word kind of longread, something different than work I’ve done before.
I felt the story was important for a local community I serve, but I also felt there were broader lessons and concepts that I believe have relevance to other small communities everywhere. Between that and my own personal interest in continuing to develop my credentials in that kind of work, I invested quite a bit of my free time to the project over the last month.
We have published other pieces of longform — see other examples here. But this was the first person-specific long read profile I’ve written — others came close but were far less exhaustive. I have some thoughts to share below. If you haven’t already, please read the piece here.
One of the challenges I gave myself this year was to sharpen my humor writing. Though I like to think of myself of something resembling funny in person — would you like to hear a knock knock joke? — this is not a quality that I have developed in my writing.
So with that in mind, I took on several causes in fiction writing recently. I’m proud to say that that resulted in a small, playful item of mine being published by the Internet Tendency, the online satire site of well-known publisher McSweeney’s. I summoned my own entrepreneurship experience and coverage of other founders and startup culture: “REALLY, EVERYTHING IS GOING GREAT AT MY TECH STARTUP. I JUST HAVE SOME PAYROLL QUESTIONS.”
"Can you actually withdraw $500 from everyone’s accounts and reverse it into the company account?" https://t.co/sgEQQ8IyXi
— Timothy McSweeney (@mcsweeneys) September 13, 2017
It was fun to see people I know share the piece without knowing I wrote it, in addition to McSweeney fans (and I am one) enjoying it too. It was a new experience writing for a publication I know well. I hope you enjoy.
What a simple and common reaction: get angry at the one telling you the story.
The true job of news gatherers is to reflect the communities they serve. Media is mirror. We can and should have a responsibility in pushing for a truer understanding and taking responsibility in making those communities better (however we define better) but we still must be representative of those whom we serve.
You are our source material. So you have more to do with our editorial mix than you might realize.
For as important as a skill as we consider source interviewing, we don’t talk much about it as being something that has changed amid so many other changes in journalism and news gathering today.
In my experience working with mostly young reporters, talking about interviewing is very much an after-thought. The assumption is you got some instruction at school somewhere and some experience at college media and then refined elsewhere. But, gosh, looking back, we leave a lot of that to chance.
From its origins, I was certainly around the Philly Geek Awards, organized by a volunteer group surrounding the local culture blog Geekadelphia, run by a handful of my friends. But it was mostly from afar, sometimes speaking and being silly with them.
In 2016, as sometimes happens with volunteer efforts, the annual black-tie-meets-cosplay event was thrown into jeopardy, as several of its organizers had moved away in a sudden and similar cycle. It had no one to lead its organization, so I volunteered our team to keep the tradition alive. It was a real risk for our organization and the brand overall, but it felt important to keep the event moving. We pieced it together, with a rushed venue relationship and tricky catering limitations, and though it was far from perfect, we kept the tradition alive.
This weekend our Technically Media team, with the support of a volunteer planning committee, brought the event back to what it was meant to be — a highly produced, sold-out celebration of passionate subcommunities with civic pride in spades.