Businessweek on Henry Blodget: Passages on the future of news sites

I dug into this Business Week profile of Henry Blodget from the the Business Insider a few weeks ago.

Blodget is the editor of TBI — a business and technology aggregation and content site dubbed the ‘hooters of the internet’ — after being forced out of a financial analyst career for fraud allegations.

I wanted to share two passages from the piece that spoke widely to discussions around the future of news.

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NEast Philly: West Frankford Town Watch profile

Phil Pappas, of West Frankford Town Watch, investigating an alarm near Comly and Bustleton on early Saturday morning July 10. Click to enlarge. It's my photo.

Earlier this month, I went on a ride-along with the West Frankford Town Watch in lower Northeast Philadelphia. For the love of hyperlocal journalism and community coverage, I put together a 2,500 word profile of the organization, with a handful of photos of mine. It was good to remember that I got into this whole scene for a love of writing. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Mike Mawson smells something.

It’s past midnight on Comly Street near Bustleton in Mayfair. The sun went down hours ago, but forgot to take this sticky July heat with it. Mawson is riding shotgun in the sensible four-door sedan that his partner Phil Pappas drives. The West Frankford Town Watch patrol was circling around to head back south of Cheltenham Avenue to drive the streets of its namesake neighborhood when Mawson caught a whiff of something off in the still nighttime air.

“It smells like something is burning,” confirms soft-featured Pappas, 53, sitting upright with two hands on the steering wheel and dressed with purpose in matching earthtones. “I’ll pull over.” MORE

Read the rest of it here.

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Those are similar ledes: faint praise from the Philly Business Journal

Hey, ledes are often pretty formulaic. That much we know.

We also know that Technically Philly has aspired to grow more broader coverage of its community.

Now, they may not be the same and there may likely be no influence; I just thought this was quaint. Honestly, what it may best show is that we’re on the right path with Technically Philly.

From a former colleague and friend Peter Key:

If a lot of extremely strangely dressed people start showing up in the area in the next few months, it could be a sign that philanthropy in the region is increasing.  — Philadelphia Business Journal lede on July 9, 2010

From a current colleague and friend Sean Blanda:

If you see DunkTank co-founder Blake Jennelle walking around Center City with a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and a fake beard, rest assured he hasn’t gone completely crazy. — Technically Philly lede on June 17, 2010

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Nonprofits breaking news about their mission

If you have a mission, nonprofit or otherwise, you ought to have a voice in your mission.

On the Back on My Feet blog, we don’t do enough of it, but when issues surrounding homelessness come up, we are sure to share them with our readers.

So when the very big news of the country’s first national report on homelessness was published and was part of a call to end homelessness in five years, we certainly shared it promptly, following our primary source of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

That happened June 25, so I was certainly interested to see the first mention in Philadelphia of that big report come by way of an editorial from the beleaguered Inquirer on July 5.

That’s a startup nonprofit feeding important industry news to its supporters before news media. Note the obvious trend.

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Three most relevant, mentioned and impactful Philadelphia columnists write in a niche

Eighteen months ago, I was searching for the best metro columnist in Philadelphia.

I felt the Inquirer’s Dan Rubin was the nearest in a legacy of citywide voice boxes, telling the broadest and widest ranging stories. Perhaps that’s true.

But it’s been nagging me that outside of some media-focused friends — and even then — I never hear Rubin or his other traditional columnist colleagues with any sort of regularity.

Instead, the columnists whose names I read, hear mentioned and myself reference the most are increasingly niche orientated. They’re not writing about the city, they’re writing about and for a very narrowly focused part of it. These are other critics and writers who have long existed in newspaper parlance, but I believe the increasingly niche-dominated media ecosystem means their voices carry greater power than before.

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Murder rates in Philadelphia and other cities are all marketing

Philadelphia has developed this reputation: Killadelphia or something like it.

In a prominent New York Times profile of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams last week,  the city was described as having been “battered for years by the worst sort of superlatives — the highest murder rate, the lowest conviction rate.”

What a damaging and sweeping comment that when reiterated and reinterpreted across media — that Philadelphia has been “battered” by having the “highest murder rate,” of what, well, they won’t say — can dramatically impact how the Cradle of Liberty is seen nationally.

Williams is supposed to be a part of a “sea change” in the city’s role of prosecuting criminals — a major Philadelphia Inquirer investigation found, as the Times reported, that “the city had failed to obtain convictions in two-thirds of cases involving violent crimes, and that thousands of cases were dismissed because prosecutors were not prepared or witnesses did not appear.”

So, yes, Philadelphia has a problem convicting criminals and crime is certainly a major sticking point for people living in cities (though I’ll add that violent crime is down nationally and many inner-ring suburbs have been battling increases in gangs and drugs and crime since the 1990s). And this ‘Killadelphia’ reputation doesn’t help… but how accurate the name is remains a point of contention here.

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Rework: the best of a business book from the founders of 37signals

With 100 simple rules they attribute to their success organized in a dozen chapters spread across fewer than 300 short pages, the founders of web firm 37signals aim to affect any organization or business culture with Rework, their management style book that was released in March.

It has gotten quite a bit of attention — and high praise from some noteworthy authors — so my reading it comes a bit late, so instead I wanted to share what I most took away from it.

Because of its comprehensible and digestible format, I tore through the fast and compelling book. While much of the book was either reinforcing or contained perspective I hope to take away, I thought enough of their rules were valuable enough that sharing my favorites here would be served well.

See my favorite items below as just a primer, go pick up the book. I can’t highlight enough that what I share below are but a small percentage of the insight offered in the book and even those I do share are just the skeletons of ideas.

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Shooting young black males, a column lost to the recycle bin

See this and other 2007 crime maps at http://www.philly.com/inquirer/special/violence/

I’m pretty passionate about the web allowing greater public affairs accountability journalism, not worse.

I was reminded of this while skulking around the Internet searching for a column I remember reading back in 2007.

Noted Philadelphia Inquirer scribe Tom Ferrick — who has since launched politics coverage site Metropolis — crunched the numbers on the shootings of young black men, a trend in all U.S. cities but one that was particularly timely amidst one of the bloodiest years in the city’s history.

Though it was written just back in 2007, it was gone. I couldn’t quite find something that fit its point, so I reached out to Ferrick. He warmly shared some of the details of the now somewhat dated piece, as he said he’s working on revisiting the topic.

If for no other reason than for my own ability to link back to it in the future and to prove how valuable the web can be in making available so much powerful knowledge and information, below, with Ferrick’s permission, I share the notes he sent me.

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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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