Metro: Seth Williams stumps and Northeast Philadelphia Now

Two pieces I wrote for NEast Philly made their way into yesterday’s Metro Northeast Philadelphia edition.

First, as depicted above, a piece on Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams’s presentation at the Northwood Civic Association meeting during which he again outlined the four main objectives of his nascent administration.

Second, as depicted below, my coverage of the second meeting of Northeast Philadelphia Now, a fledgling attempt to coalesce various neighborhood groups to fight back against quality of life crimes plauging that part of the city.

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Jonathan Alter at National Constitution Center, a storyteller with authority

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Page Editor Harold Jackson, at right, interviews Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter about his latest book on the first year of the Obama presidency, as depicted at the National Constitution Center on June 22, 2010.

Riding into the White House, the angle was that Barack Obama would be a president whose celebrated communications skills would work to balance his governing inexperience.

But Jonathan Alter, a Newsweek senior editor and author of a new book chronicling Obama’s first year as president, says Obama has instead taken to private, dispassionate discourse on the issues, which he has struggled to liven up to connect with American people.

“So he seems aloof,” Alter said last night in front of a paying crowd of nearly 250 inside the Kirby Auditorium of the National Constitution Center. “And that has hurt him.”

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New York Times on the price of online journalism; broken pieces to return

Last month, The New York Times Magazine had a big piece on the price of online journalism… or at least content of some kind. I only dug into it this weekend.

It was a big piece riddled with stories of a handful of struggling entrepreneurs and a few buzz-y sites that haven’t prospered, but three paragraphs interested me most.

Let me share them below.

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Perceptions involved in how we see the livability of U.S. cities

Last month, a study from the Brookings Institution was a major news story.

White flight? In a reversal, America’s suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes. [Source]

It’s complicated of course: new immigration trends chasing a different American dream, people of color from cities doing the same, white families from inner-ring suburbs moving farther from cities and younger white people moving back into those same cities (like me).

But it got me thinking about perceptions.

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This has been a bad week

My mother died yesterday. I’m proud of the obituary I was able to write for her in our hometown newspaper.

It’s also available on the funeral parlor Web site, or you can read it below.

She was a good woman. It’s a shitty thing but everyone has shitty things happen to them.

NEWTON — Carol Wink, 51, died on Wednesday, June 17th at Morristown Memorial Hospital after complications related to a long fought illness.

The beloved wife, mother, sister and aunt was born in the Harding Park neighborhood of the Bronx on Sept. 1, 1957 to William and Geraldine (Howell) Dolan. After growing up in Plainview, Long Island, she moved with her family in 1986 to Sussex County, a rural paradise she came to love. She worked for 18 years as a devoted educator, teaching first and second grade and then reading comprehension at the Sparta Alpine School, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2001.

Carol is survived by her loving husband, George, with whom she was two months shy of a 30th wedding anniversary; her daughter, Maureen; her son, Christopher; two loving sisters, Eileen and Nancy, and their husbands, Mike Lorio and Joe Cipollone; their children, Daniel and Cassie and Joseph and Matthew; two cherished sisters-in-law, Jeanie and Linda Wink; a strange looking dog and two cats, including her favorite, Milo.

Aside from education, her greatest passions came in the kitchen, using a library of cook books and a knack for experimentation and exploration to craft meals of exceptional regard that will be greatly missed by all, especially her eternally hungry son. The green thumb gardener was known for coaxing her husband into playing with dirt, mulch and plants on big, beautiful Sussex County weekends, as well as incorporating the fruits and vegetables she grew into her favorite meals. She will be remembered best for her passion, humor and eggplant rollatini.

Last August, she was thrilled to make her first trip across the pond, spending a week in London. She recently turned over her constant reading habits to planning a trip to California, showing her love for travel.

She is a 1979 Bachelor’s of Arts graduate from Hofstra University with a Master in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College and other post-graduate work from Centenary College of New Jersey. She was excited to return to the classroom this fall to use a recently completed Orton Gillingham Teacher Certificate from Farleigh Dickinson University to tutor students suffering with Dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

In September 2005, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which she battled courageously, including a period of time during which she taught full-time and received regular chemotherapy treatments. Her weakened immune system left her unable to beat a lung inflammation that came in her final weeks.

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. on Tuesday at the Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, 63 High Street, Newton. Interment will be held at Newton Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Monday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at the funeral home. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, North Jersey Chapter, 14 Commerce Drive, Suite 301, Cranford, NJ 07016.

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Story Shuffle: introducing a themed, first-person storytelling event

I like projects.

I enjoy pointing out skills, traits, knowledge sets or the like that I lack and want to develop and finding practical, fun, realistic ways to develop them as best I can — in small, attainable steps.

I love storytelling.

I want to be a better, more captivating, more experienced storyteller. I also bought a house back in December and was hunting a more original way to christen it.

With that in mind, a couple Saturdays ago, I introduced Story Shuffle to a dozen friends, mostly a cohort of former colleagues from my college newspaper days. It’s something of a themed, first-person storytelling event with lots of tasty food.

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Final words on the reprisal of the young cop and the student journalist

It’s very easy to politicize what is around us. I fight that urge, too.

Whenever accusations about cops and misdeeds make their way into headlines, most of us either rush to defend them or revile them. Wherever we rush to usually has to do with what camp we most align: either (A) policing is damn hard work and those who do it don’t get enough credit or (B) police officers have enough potentially unchecked power to make us uncomfortable.

Of course, like with most things, the truth manages to be both.

More than a year ago, I wrote about then-Temple University student journalist Shannon McDonald and the contested reporting she did on Philadelphia Police Officer Bill Thrasher. Last month, something of a conclusion was finally met.

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U.S. theatrical premiere, Madeleine Albright and what it means for local journalism

Madeline Albright, at left sipping a drink, alongside Vaclav Havel, with his back to the camera, at the Wilma Theater on May 26, 2010.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright seemed to enjoy the production just fine.

That was the lede I submitted to Philadelphia events blog uwishunu in my review of last month’s U.S. premiere of ‘Leaving,’ the first piece in a generation from acclaimed playwright and former Czech President Vaclav Havel, at the Wilma Theater on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City Philadelphia.

Both after leaving the bathroom before the show and sitting in my third-row seat as the curtain opened, I eyed the tiny, graying lady sitting to the right and chatting with Havel, the revolutionary who was on hand to watch the premiere. Both times I gave second glances. The first time, I just thought I recognized her and dismissed it as some Philadelphia notable.

The second time, my guess was clear: that woman was the first female Secretary of State and President Bill Clinton top adviser. I dismissed it again — no security, no commotion, no press. Turns out I was right, and, boy, that has to mean something for the future of news, doesn’t it?

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Back on My Feet blog introduction

Today, I’d like to announce the official content platform for homeless running nonprofit Back on My Feet.

I announced in February my taking a job with the Center City-based organization that uses running clubs to create support around homeless populations seeking to move forward. From my first interview, I highlighted the need to use a blog to share the heavy dosage of content, member stories and updates that come from the nonprofit’s now-four chapters and growing.

I’m very interested in tracking all the web metrics I can, from traffic to social media trends, for Back on My Feet. Launching this blog — a project I initiated and have led — came without question and has been a great source of pride thus far.

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Speaking at Build Your Buzz Workshop with Empowerment Group

That niche vertical or hyperlocal news site that covers your community can be just as valuable as the big newspaper or local TV spot, I told an audience of nearly 20 as a panelist during an Entrepreneurship Week session hosted by the Empowerment Group last month.

The Kensington-based nonprofit who mission is “building a better Philadelphia by spurring economic growth,” hosted the week-long session of events — panels and lectures, workshops and happy hours — for small business owners and those interested in venturing down that path.

For the session on April 7, I joined a panel called ‘Build Your Own Buzz’ that was additionally manned by Alex Mulcahy, the founder of the popular, sustainability-focused GRID Magazine, Jim Sofran, an executive with Chicago-based Groupon and Deni Kasrel, a local marketing agent.

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