So, there is much more I could have done in this space, but I wanted to debrief specifically on this area of my work:
Image of Old City Philadelphia cobblestone courtesy of Flickr user IceNineJon.
In the future, this project leads to:
- Open source platform for other regionally-grouped niche sites to come together.
- Community-edited profiles of local focus and meaning (i.e. city government lobbyists, community associations presidents and other leaders who might otherwise remain anonymous)
- A cross-platform tool that can go beyond WordPress and work with meta data from other CMS.
- Membership model based on support of an entire local news collaborative network.
- Ad network integration, further connecting disparate niche sites
- This will connect and encourage collaboration between other and future content providers in Philadelphia.
Niche news sites need to be brought together to strengthen the future of journalism.
Last year, we at Technically Philly started that hunt with a Knight News Challenge application for News Inkubator, a business services hub and incubation space for independent news startups. We didn’t make the cut, but we have taken to bootstrapping the concept by starting with an advertising network.
Today is the 2010 Knight News Challenge grant deadline, and we’ve continued that focus.
We took time to learn that our News Inkubator proposal was too broad and focused on trying to find smaller, more actionable steps, particularly ones that could work with other larger investment.
In doing so, we’re introducing Cobblestone, a proposed tagging WordPress plugin that will feed a searchable, dynamically updated, mobile-friendly directory platform homepage with content from various partners.
See our Knight application here.
Though we think it has real monetary value — considering it is based on a Technically Philly directory aimed at a membership model — this is a decidedly more editorial-first focus. Get the niche sites together, and we can build revenue together.
Perhaps the first question we expect to be asked: why is this different than Google alerts and RSS feeds?
Cobblestone gives tag-specific and cross-partner content some place to live. Once the alerts of Bill Green or the feeds from each of the partner sites pass in time, they are lost. This creates a true homepage.
Pull media, like social networks, are incredibly powerful, but the power of the push media of email hasn’t much waned.
Nonprofits, companies and organizations still rely on its ability to land in the inboxes of busy readers, consumers and supporters. Since announcing that I’m leaving Back on My Feet, I’ve taken a bit deeper a look at the metrics behind the monthly newsletter and blasts that remains a large part of our outreach efforts.
I was proud of some progress we worked to make with our use of email marketing during my tenure there, though I didn’t find the time to focus on as much development as I would have liked (by offering more robust A/B tests and such).
More importantly, there are a dozen take aways, some of which may seem intuitive, that I can now comfortably call lessons:
This fall, I started doing something on the Back on My Feet blog that should probably be the first step of every community news site ever: a weekly aggregated roundup of existing news on homelessness.
It’s something I advocate to any content creator in which I am involved.
A primary rule of anyone with mission today is to share content related to that mission, as you probably can pretty easily beat bigger media on issues relevant to your work.
But the specific virtue of a simple roundup can be profound. It follows any number of rules of the web today.
About a year ago, I hadn’t come across a good list of someone trying to track all of the community news sites worth covering. So I did so myself.
I only recently come across someone doing a much better job of it, so I’ll leave it to her.
For the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Michele McLellan has dug in and created four main and seven overall categories for the always growing list of community sites.
It’s interesting to watch these numbers swell. Below, check out her categories and follow links to her lists.
A lot of legacies over at WHYY are going to be forged with whatever comes out of Newsworks, the online news re-branding and redevelopment initiative from Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate that I first wrote about back in April.
In short, NewsWorks, which had its official launch last Monday, Nov. 15, is WHYY’s new online news brand, serving as home to its existing journalism, in addition to (A) new columns, (B) calls for community contributions and (C) a trial hyperlocal push in northwest Philadelphia.
It’s a big bold swing and at least four years in the making.
Indeed, where Newsworks is a year or two from now will mean a great deal to the entire news ecosystem of Philadelphia, at least. Some of those people who come to mind:
The Knight News Challenge is once again alive.
The deadline for applications in the fifth annual media innovation pitch series from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is, as deadlines tend to do, rapidly approaching: Dec. 1.
It was only back in June that the recipients of the 2010 Knight News Challenge grants were announced, for which you can see commentary from the Nieman Journalism Lab here.
In other news, ABC this fall announced that outspoken billionaire and Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban and comedian Jeff Foxworthy would be joining a handful of venture capitalists on the second season of made-for-TV, speed investment pitch reality show “Shark Tank.”
Popular or not, from when the show first debuted and even more so this year, I think there is plenty the Knight News Challenge should take from “Shark Tank.”
I am leaving my role as Media Director for Back on My Feet, the running-based program to combat homelessness.
I tendered my resignation last Thursday, Nov. 11 and our staff was alerted Monday. My last day will be Friday, Dec. 3, so I’ve offered a full three weeks to help the transition process at an organization with a mission that has come to mean a great deal to me since joining in January.
I’ll be sharing in greater detail here what exactly I will be doing, but, in short, I am taking a full-time opportunity with the media company I helped launch by way of starting in February 2009 technology news site Technically Philly.
Yes, things have been going well there since.
Understanding the difference between the theoretical concept’s debate and the more practical policy conversation over authority is key to furthering the conversation on so-called ‘net neutrality.’
That was the central-most, on-going theme of my remarks on a panel that focused on the growing conversation about requiring, among other things, internet service providers to maintain equal access and speed to all portions of the internet.
My remarks came as one-fourth of a panel titled “Political Issues of the Social Web: Nurturing or strangling social web opportunities” and hosted byPhiladelphia NetSquared, a group that, as it describes itself, “gathers together nonprofits and activists, tech leaders and funders, and everyone who’s interested in using technology for social change.” Because its members include many nonprofit leaders, my role with Back on My Feet was noted, but my perspective was much more influenced by my Comcast coverage for Technically Philly.
The panel discussion, held last Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010 at the American Friends Service Center at 15th and Cherry streets in Center City Philadelphia, was part of Net Tuesdays, a free monthly event series from Philly NetSquared.
Though a discussion on the ‘Political Issues of the Social Web’ could have any number of directions — including, but certainly not limited to, the federal broadband stimulus initiatives and universal access broadband policy and a very powerful conversation about the meaning the social web has to democracy and revolution — our conversation, with some variation, focused more tightly on the very timely conversation on net neutrality.
After my first asset analysis joining Back on My Feet in January, it was beyond the pale of question that we needed a camera that could get our organization content — photos and video — up and moving quickly.
I was looking for a camera that was the following:
- More durable than the personal camera I had, enjoyed but kept having it fail on me
- Better lens for clearer video zoom and photo quality
- No more than $500 and preferably nearer to $200
Upon some research and inquiries, I recommended we spend more than $300 on the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20. Complimentary CNet review here.