Biden defends hyperaction at Committee of Seventy breakfast

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Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the annual breakfast for political watchdog group the Committee of Seventy on Nov. 23, 2009 inside the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue Stratford. Photo by Christopher Wink

Gov. Ed Rendell walked onto the stage in front of several hundred guests at the Committee of Seventy‘s annual breakfast and made a joke at the expense of the political oversight group’s president, Zach Stalberg.

“Don’t you think Zach was a lot more fun when he at the Daily News?” Rendell asked of Stalberg, who was an editor at the Philadelphia tabloid before departing for a gig at Seventy in 2005.

The featured guest of the affair was Vice President Joe Biden and, like Stalberg before him, Biden seemed all business.

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Metro: Adding human color to a Northeast Philadelphia fire

Naja Wigglesworth was happy to be alive after jumping from her apartment building during an early-morning fire.  Photo by Rikard Larma for Metro

Naja Wigglesworth was happy to be alive after jumping from her apartment building during an early-morning fire. Photo by Rikard Larma for Metro

I was able to humanize a bit the standard spot news metro fire story yesterday, when I covered a five-alarm blaze in the Burholme section of Northeast Philadelphia for Metro.

It wasn’t the fire and it wasn’t the screaming but God who woke up Naja Wigglesworth early Sunday morning, the 23-year-old says.

She was on the second floor of the Austin Manor Apartment building in the Burlholme neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia when it went up in flames around 4:30 a.m. yesterday.

Read the rest here.

So often, because of time constraints, coverage of these tragic fires are just rehashing of deaths and times and places, without accounting for the people who endure a great deal. I was happy I got to hear from residents about their experiences.

Below, local TV news coverage of the fire and an interview that didn’t make it into the front page story.

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Bicycle enforcement campaign launched by Philadelphia police

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Update 11/22/09 @ 12:06 p.m.: Signs of this enforcement from Philebrity and the Inquirer.

Philadelphia police are introducing a bicycle enforcement campaign beginning tomorrow in Center City.

Forgive the lack of a direct focus on journalism, the future of news and my clips on this, but, as someone who uses bicycling transport fairly regularly (to save money and get exercise, something any freelancer would understand the value of making habit), it’s an issue I take seriously.

If you’re down, read some of my perspective and watch a video about police officers in another city using “discretion” with such bicycle street-law enforcement.

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Weekly in print, daily online: the new slogan of The Temple News

It was sometime this month two years ago that, while still an undergraduate at Temple University, I started tossing around what I hoped to be a new tagline for The Temple News, the college newspaper on North Broad Street.

Weekly in Print. Daily online, I suggested.

I wrote it on a piece of paper and posted it in my cubicle, as editorial page editor. In the mid-1990s, our newspaper staff rather presciently decided to move from printing three days a week to just once, having already dropped from a daily a few years earlier.

The intent, a front-page story read at the time, was to reduce costs at a time when the Internet would soon be the source of all news. Gosh, they were a bit too early, but dead on. So, they’d update daily online and follow-up with the biggest stories weekly.

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Committee of Seventy: Highlights of November 2009 Philadelphia election

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Every Election Day since November 2004, with an occasional exception, I’ve worked with the Committee of Seventy, a more than century-old political oversight nonprofit in Philadelphia.

I always come away with stories.

As I did in last April’s primary, below, I’ll share some of the best from last Tuesday’s election, a relatively low-profile affair, including just a couple citywide offices and a dozen state and municipal judicial positions.

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Distribution or content: which is king?

bk_crowncardTheKing_en_01Is distribution king, not content?

That’s the question posed here by Alana G.

Consider a simplified 2×2 matrix: content is either good or bad and distribution is either good or bad. Bad content with bad distribution is going nowhere. Good content with good distribution is in the best position to succeed. But there’s a lot of sports content that lives in the other two quadrants. There are distribution resources being wasted on bad content, and there are plenty of small bloggers making good content with bad distribution. This last category of unseen content may be even better quality than some of the content with good distribution, but this content will not float to the top on its own. [Source]

I like this 2X2 model of bad/good content and bad/good distribution.

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Phillies theme songs: music for Philadelphia baseball

When my reporting career starts intersecting with World Series baseballtwice — why wouldn’t I keep coming across Phillies theme songs?

Ill State of Mind by NeeKo ft. Deanie Marie, as I previously shared.

Goin’ Back to Philadelphia, PA- A Tribute to the Phillies by Bobby Burnett

This is played in the ballpark after a Phillies home win

Fightin’ Phils by Richie Rosati 2008

Fightin Phils Anthem – Tone Love

Parading Down Broad Street

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Phillies Go Hard” by Jakk Frost

Others listed here.

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Take aways from the Future of Local Politics and the Web panel

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A panel held by Refresh Philly on the Future of Local Politics on the Web at the Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia Nov. 2, 2009. From left: Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce CEO Rob Wonderling; pa2010.com contributor Benjamin Barnett; Young Philly Politics contributor Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg and myself who moderated. Photo by Sean Blanda

Whether Web technology and social media can have a major impact on local politics in a place like Philadelphia or if they remain secondary tools, became the major topic and a divided one at a panel that served as the November Refresh Philly meeting.

The hour-long panel discussion, which I moderated, was entitled the Future of Local Politics and the Web.

  • Panel member Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg, a co-founder of progressive policy online forum Young Philly Politics, seemed dogged in his assessment that the Web remains a supplementary tool to traditional campaign field operations.
  • Panel member Benjamin Barnett, the micro-blogger for statewide campaign news site pa2010.com spoke about the role the Web could have in boosting the profile and followship of otherwise limited candidates, most notably citywide Republican candidate in heavily Democratic Philadelphia.
  • The third panel member Rob Wonderling, the new CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, was careful not to overstate the role the Web can play on a municipal level but split somewhere in the middle by noting its role in championing transparency and responsiveness of government.

While that discussion remained most present during the event, there was plenty more to be had. Below some other take aways, video of the event and questions I didn’t have time to ask.

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Metro: A Yankees fan roaming Center City

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I was paid by Metro to parade around a rainy Center City Philadelphia last Wednesday wearing a Yankees hat, ahead of their World Series matchup with the Phillies, who won that first battle.

Diane Allman took a second glance at the only piece of Yankees memorabilia for sale at the Moell’s at 16th and Chestnut streets, turning up her nose at the Derek Jeter shirt. [Source]

See how the clip appeared in print here, and check that Thursday New York edition, which ran the experience of a reporter who dressed as a Phillies fan in Manhattan.

It’s one of those experiences that remind you why freelance writing can be a sweet gig. Below some background and extras from the story.

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