William Penn Foundation three-year $2.4 million investment in Philly journalism

The William Penn Foundation board of directors has pledged a three-year $2.4 million grant to Temple University to incubate “a new organization designed to strengthen our region’s capacity for professionally-produced public interest journalism,” as described by strategic consultant Michael Greenle.

“This will fund journalism, support other outlets and find and cover gaps in coverage,” said Greenle in a small meeting of stakeholders yesterday. It may likely take at least a year for real momentum to happen here. Various matching grant efforts are expected to boost that overall total, in addition to future revenue plans, Greenle said.

In 2011, the grant would create a collaborative Center for Public Interest Journalism housed at Temple, which would serve three main functions:

  1. ‘One Stop Shopping’ — Centralized resources from Temple that could benefit public affairs journalism in the region (like MPIP, the computer science program, the journalism program) to be offered to partners in some way.
  2. Incubate Collaboration — This center will incubate a collaborative effort that will take a more active role in public affairs journalism that could very well look like this or portions of this. Or not. That’s to be left up to senior staff, as explained below.
  3. Host Events — Create a broader dialogue among journalists by housing the existing Phiji series and, as I thought, perhaps involving the BarCamp NewsInnovation event we and Technically Philly have put hosted at Temple.

The foundation’s interest in this space was first addressed publicly here after a stakeholders meeting last January. Greenle’s recommendations and work with the foundation follows previous research from the JLab institute announced in April. This project is influenced by proposals set forth by my colleagues and me at Technically Philly.

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Foundations should require public art displays, rehearsals and performances

The movement is already afoot, put on most prominent display by the Knight Foundation’s Random Acts of Culture, but I crave more.

Last Wednesday, I was waiting to meet someone in the food court beneath the giant Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia. Then people started singing, as you can sort of make out in the above photo. Turns out it was a new performance by the Opera Company of Philadelphia. It was cool, not only watching the rehearsal, but all of the people stop and watch the rehearsal.

But here’s where I think it gets fun.

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The word ‘peace’ was last published more than the word ‘war’ in 1743, shows Google Books

Google Books released an incredibly interesting time-waster research tool that can graph the use of any word in six language since 1500 from some 500 million digitized books, as I reported this morning for Technically Philly.

While, as showed there, lots of interesting Philadelphia-related graphs exist, I admit that even more broad conversation-worthy displays exist. (Find the tool here)

They show things like: We haven’t written more about ‘peace’ than ‘war’ since 1743.

Other interesting graphs:

What have you found?

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Business Insider mention of Technically Philly

Early last month, a contributor to the Business Insider dropped the Technically Phillly name and some other references to the Philadelphia online indie media scene:

Hyper-local advertising and content. Speaking of my home base of Philadelphia, the hyper-local eco-system here features sites of every make and model. Examples: PhillySportsDaily.com leaves local sports radio 610WIP.com & 950TheFan in the dust with its 24/7 online sports coverage & analysis. Gawker-influenced; Philebrity.com, probably assisted in the decline of our once great alt-weekly: City Paper. Smart and dominant technology coverage of ‘Philacon Valley’ by the young team at TechnicallyPhilly.com certainly must embarrass the top brass at the legendary Philadelphia Business Journal. And if you taste-test the foodie editorial of JerseyBites.com, it’s easy to imagine this content eventually being licensed or sold to The Food Network or Fodors. MORE

Thanks Mel.

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If I had unlimited money to invest in growing Philadelphia journalism

Smart people are making calculated investments in Philadelphia’s journalism community.

It’s clearly something about which I am passionate and devoted. It’s also something I put a lot of thought into. This weekend, I found myself returning to a thought process of the past, just free associating everything I would invest in if money was no object toward growing Philadelphia journalism.

Of course, money is a big object, but the brainstorm can help. I share my thoughts below and would love to hear what I am missing or what I seem to be paying too much attention to.

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Examiner.com interview on work with Technically Philly

I was interviewed for the local vertical of Examiner.com by local marketing specialist Megan Smith.

When my firm signed new client Tek Lado – a bilingual, technology and pop culture magazine – we suddenly had to immerse ourselves in Philadelphia’s tech scene. And word on the street was that Technically Philly was one of the key places to start. I began reading the site daily, learning more about “the trends, the news and the people that affect, and the events that include, Philadelphia’s growing technology community.” In the process, I may or may not have stalked Technically Philly’s co-founder Christopher Wink to learn a little more… MORE

Read the full interview here.

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Telling stories with authenticity and complexity: or why Unstoppable sucked

Action movies are supposed to be implausible.

The action is meant to be superhuman — more violent, more outrageous, more daring and impossible than the last. They are not, then, in my opinion, necessarily good stories.

They can be entertaining — with explosions, scene cuts and new sights — but I don’t look for an action movie to tell a compelling story.

Recently, I saw Unstoppable, the new Denzel Washington movie. The promotion around the movie certainly had an action element to it, but the trailer and Washington’s past roles triggered to me a belief there might be something a bit more provocative to the movie.

There wasn’t. I didn’t particularly like the film, though I suppose I didn’t hate it, but it did make me think about what makes good writing and, really, helps make good journalism and what Unstoppable didn’t have elements of either.

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Five interesting lessons from Jay-Z interview with Terry Gross

NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross interviewed rapper and cultural icon Jay-Z last month and it proved one of the more interesting episodes of one of the best, longest-running radio shows around. Jay-Z was promoting his new book Decoded (about which Amazon has an interesting video interview).

You should go ahead and listen to the interview right now.

All the highlights are here, but you should look for these discussions in particular, all of which can be found in this transcript, in addition to another longer-form interview.

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Back on My Feet presence online ten months later

Click to enlarge.

Today is my final day serving as the Media Director of homeless advocacy nonprofit Back on My Feet, after first joining in mid-January 2010.

Social media is just one of five major areas of responsibility, as I noted in my resignation notice here, so much of the growth and direction came in the first three months of my time here.

So, there is much more I could have done in this space, but I wanted to debrief specifically on this area of my work:

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Cobblestone: a WordPress-plugin and local Crunchbase Knight application

From Flickr user IceNineJon

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.

Below, see our application, which you can also see here:

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