The speed of government (and other institutions) is a feature not a bug

Recently a few ideas came together for me that made me want to acknowledge something that might be obvious to others. It isn’t directly related to the Election but it offers a timeliness.

At their best, institutions, and governments specifically, move slowly by design. Like the plan for charter schools influencing school districts, the very hope for startups and other young organizations is to be a place for risk and experimentation.

By merger or sheer influence, the best of these ideas should survive their way through bureaucracy and other obstacles. Others won’t survive. Though that has worked for so long in much of American political life, we were just reminded of how vulnerable that still is. But that isn’t the real goal.

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Here’s a snapshot census of reporters, editors and other news org full-timers in Philadelphia

Efforts abound nationally to pin down just how many full-time people are in the business of reporting, editing, visualizing and otherwise sharing news in a professional journalism setting. This is a local one.

We know that, to no one’s surprise, aside from spikes, the trend is very clearly downward. Fewer people will have full time roles with organizations dedicated to journalistic enterprise.

But I wanted to use my hometown of Philadelphia to get a sense of what that hiring mix looks like. So I sent a whole lot of emails out to friends, colleagues and peers. Below I share what I found.

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Recap of Barcamp News Innovation 2016

The 8th annual Barcamp News Innovation was the best attended yet. This annual unconference on the future of news welcomed more than 175 journalists, editors and other media makers interested in trends and best practices.

We at Technically Media have always produced it at and with Temple University’s School of Media Communications. For the first time, this year we hosted the day-long event in the fall, rather than late in the spring, which allowed perhaps nearly two dozen students to attend. Despite being free for students (just $15 for professionals), we’ve never had much turnout for those about to begin their careers. This year worked.

I wanted to share a few lessons and notes that stuck with me below.

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In defense of “Off the Record” and back room conversations

Transparency is a modern virtue.

Its pursuit is among the more commonly inalienable constants of news media. But like a child who needs to be exposed to germs to develop resistance, we can benefit from some level of privacy among leaders. Transparency of power can lead to polarization. Some conversations need to be worked out in private.

Of course that doesn’t sit quite right with many newsrooms — or among many civic minded people. A symbolic scourge of journalism is the back room conversation — dealmaking without public discourse.

But it’s so much more complicated.

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How to officiate your friend’s wedding

Wedding traditions are changing. Having a friend officiate is becoming more common. If you’re not after a religious ceremony, this is a personal and intimate option.

I’m thrilled to say last month I got the chance to do this for the first time, for one of my best friends and his delightful fiancee. (The above photo is by LOVE + WOLVES CO)

Here’s what I learned about getting it done.

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Be a leader, not a founder

The truest goal for starting a company is to grow it to a stronger place of stability.

To battle a generational low point in business incorporation, we’ve built a solid drumbeat celebrating entrepreneurship. To complement this charge, we need a serious dialogue about transitioning founders into leaders, from the one who started a company to the one who is growing it.

As a cofounder of 25-person publishing company Technically Media who has interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs along the way, I am experiencing this transition myself. To give yourself the best shot at success in business, you must know what your goals are. One of them should be looking for opportunities to make this transition from founder to leader.

That was the focus of a lecture and workshop I led at the second annual Fearless Conference, held by the precocious Melissa Alam, who has developed a wonderful community of (mostly) young women aspiring to build businesses of their own. Below I share my slides, some notes and reaction to my talk.

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Journalism is a strategy, not an industry

Journalism is a strategy, not an industry.

Newsrooms should rethink their competition. Journalism organizations are in dozens of different businesses. What we share in common (journalism DNA) makes us more partners than adversaries. The many businesses that are competing for the revenue and not providing other community value, like service journalism, are the real competition.

This was the focus of a lightning pitch I gave this weekend at the national Online News Association annual conference in Denver. Below find my slides, audio and some tweet reactions I received.

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Acts of journalism that aren’t written articles

Because the modern concept of journalism was developed inside newspaper newsrooms, we’ve stayed stuck on the idea that journalism only looks one way: written words with a feature lede and nut graf.

Maybe a photo essay. Or an editorial cartoon. Or nonfiction book. Radio and TV reports too can cut the pass. But we know what form comes to mind first when journalism is invoked: writing and editing long, multi-source feature stories, likely to put into some print publication. That has to adapt.

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What I’ve learned hosting travelers with Airbnb for a year 

Of all the buzzy web companies that will define my generation, Airbnb is likely the one I’m most jealous of not creating.

As a traveler and host on since 2008, like millions I missed the too-obvious opportunity that people would pay for a better experience with a similar global community. It’s brilliant and connective and exciting and has a solid revenue plan — and if it has become the primary example of racial bias in the sharing economy, that’s something to be corrected, not a reason for it to be destroyed (Likewise, criticism of it driving up rental costs is probably not true yet)

I joined the peer-to-peer housing platform in December 2011 and took my first trip using the service in February 2012 to Birmingham, Alabama with my then girlfriend SACM. More than four years later, I continue using the service to book travel accommodations, preferring the service for homey placements in residential neighborhoods with hosts who can give local recommendations. I just find it far more interesting than a hotel — it helps that they’re almost always more affordable too.

So I was excited that I could combine these interests — welcoming guests, offering advice and making some additional money — as an Airbnb host when SACM and I bought a home together a year ago.

Last month marked a year of our hosting guests via Airbnb. To celebrate, I wanted to share lessons, advice and, yes, data from the experience.

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Listen to my recording at the 4th annual Philadelphia Podcast Festival

Since May 2010, I’ve organized a regular storytelling event among friends called Story Shuffle. Each of the last four years I’ve brought a few of my friends together to record a Story Shuffle during the Philadelphia Podcast Festival.

It happened again.

The event is organized by Nathan Kuruna, an audiophile and photographer — the above photo and these on Facebook (all podfest photos from him here) are from him via his Click Save Photography shop, so give him a look. Earlier this month, the fourth annual was held in part at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse in Kensington.

Below listen to the stories I told on Saturday, Aug. 20 with my friends startup savant Archna Sahay, art curator Uri Pierre Noel and documentarian El Sawyer.

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