Stories that never ran: ‘Can the Devon Theater survive in Mayfair?’

Last month, the Devon Theater, a professional production house in a working-class neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia, canceled the final half of its inaugural season due to state budget constraints.

In going through some documents of mine, I found, perhaps prophetically, a story that never was from back in March when the Devon first reopened. Originally planned for Philadelphia Weekly, its working slug title was ‘Can the Devon survive in Mayfair?’

Perhaps that hope now seems less likely. Below, I share the piece that didn’t run (for a variety of reasons) and some extras from the reporting.

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Making a budget: how a young freelance journalist might look at the numbers

Budgets are fine things.

They can help set goals, limitations and create healthy habits.

Whenever I’m due for a relatively big change in my life — new income, new priorities, new costs or the like — I play with a wonderfully useful Budget Calculator from CNBC.

Suppose, you pulled in roughly $2,800 a month from independent contractor work — $700 weekly of income that doesn’t have taxes taken out from an employer and works out to be $36,400, a small fortune for some. A good rule of thumb is to put aside 30 percent of monthly income for taxes, so you don’t get yourself caught when paying quarterly or annual taxes.

$2,800 minus $840 (the 30 percent reserved for taxes) equals $1,960.

Now how do you break that down, according to the CNBC suggestions? See the graph and details below. (Above is the total for making $44,200, or $850 pre-tax weekly)

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Required reading from 2009 for hyperlocal news entrepreneurs

If you’ve walked into 2010 with plans on becoming, remaining or sustaining a hyperlocal news venture, there is lots you should already know and have already read.

Still, while thumbing through some links I thought were particularly important, I managed to find five stories from 2009 I think are most valuable.

  1. A Brief History of Hyperlocal News by Keith Hopper
  2. 10 new routines for a Hyperlocal news site by Nieman Journalism Lab
  3. Can the Grey Lady sell ads to hyperlocal businesses by Econsultancy
  4. Let’s build an ecosystem around hyperlocal bloggers by Jeff Jarvis for Guardian
  5. Ad shift throws blogs a business lifeline by New York Times

And, if I could, I might, hesitantly and humbly, also suggest folks read my “Hyperlocal news: a definition,” which argues that there is an important distinction between local and hyperlocal. Might be worth it.

What else might you add to this list?

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My best clips of 2009

Happy 2010.

But first: yesterday I shared my best read posts of 2009. Because ultimately I’m a freelancer, I thought I ought to share my best clips of the year, if only to satisfy my concern that 2009 was all for naught.

See my portfolio here.

Meaning they must have met a good portion of the four reasons a freelancer would write a story, below I list the best one or two clips from each calendar month of 2009:

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My 10 best read posts of 2009


Earlier this month, I bought another year on this domain and began a third year posting here. Back in February, I had my 500th post and am just shy of my 700th now. In July, I launched the self-hosted version of this site, which has left quite a bit of Google juice over at the free version here.

Anniversaries abound, so why not celebrate the end of another calendar year by noting the 10 best read posts I had of the past 12 months.

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If 2009 was a slow start, then 2010 needs to be next steps

If the theme of my 2009 was slow start, the theme for 2010 needs to be next steps.

This past year wasn’t a great one.

I was blessed with so much (some of which I will be sharing soon), but my first year of freelancing was a struggle (though I remain excited about the freedom). I made less than $20,000 and don’t have enough saved for the taxes I need to pay.

While I think I got some great clips this year, launched a promising technology community blog and was part of a new hyperlocal news site, it’s clear none of those projects are on the verge of keeping me from being tax delinquent or getting into debt.

This year was all about a start.

I started a lot of projects. I learned a lot and wrote a lot. But it certainly all moved slowly.

2010 is going to be a much better year, to be sure. It just needs to be focused on bolstering these opportunities and others. My resolutions reflect just that.

Here’s to 2010.

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News Inkubator: business help for hyperlocal news

Today, more than a month after we officially launched and longer than a week after being rejected by the primary organization we directed the proposal, we at Technically Philly introduced News Inkubator to our readers.

It’s a tweaked, matured and better-branded version of what I first introduced here in October. It’s a business services hub and collaborative newsroom for niche news sites in Philadelphia. It’s a pitch to create the mechanism that we believe would create the next generation of profitable, localized news coverage.

Over at Technically Philly, a news site for technology and innovation in Philadelphia that I helped launch in February, we do a lot of coverage of startups. In doing so, we’d speak to a lot of smart 20-somethings with business plans and ideas who were handed thousands of dollars, time, mentorship and space to foster ideas. We couldn’t see why, particularly at a time of turmoil, the same opportunity wouldn’t exist for media startups.

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Leaving Frankford

Frankford Terminal, taken in 1918, before the construction of the Frankford El. Obtained from the Philadelphia City Archives. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Frankford Terminal, taken in 1918, before the construction of the Frankford El. Obtained from the Philadelphia City Archives. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Updated h/t

He was an ogre of man, slimy, rat-toothed and overbearing, with day old five o’clock shadow and a crunch of black hair falling out of a sun-weathered red trucker hat.

This man, maybe 45, was propped up on the aged bar of Quinn’s Irish Pub II, a neighborhood drinking establishment with so colorful a stable of regulars that they made this second one just up Frankford Avenue here in Philadelphia from the first. It was passed closing time, the lights were low and the rumble of the adjacently-running elevated train dutifully making its way back home to the Frankford terminal ended hours ago.

The bar maid, fair-skinned, with light-brown hair in a pony tail and a stain or two on a white t-shirt, had taken a seat and served another round on the house. She, the man, two other patrons, a buddy and I had fallen into a conversation of seeming interest to all those involved.

What do you do with Frankford?

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Hyperlocal news sites worth following


Updated @ 1:50 p.m. 11/07/10 Someone is doing a better job of keeping this up to date, so check that out.

*Updated @ 9:36 a.m. 12/23/09 **Many thanks to Jess Durkin for others.

I don’t think anyone’s arguing that a big portion of the future of news will be this hyperlocal movement that continues to dominate the conversation and has grown in focus for many years.

So, I’m surprised to say I haven’t been able to find is a comprehensive list of already existing products. This isn’t going to be that list, but let’s give it a start. Help me highlight the existing, active hyperlocal news sites worth following.

Read my definition of What is hyperlocal news?

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Metro: Snow reporting, records and such

Snow on Gaul

The remains of the second largest snow storm in recorded Philadelphia history on the 600-block of Gaul Street in the Fishtown neighborhood on Sunday, Dec.

Nothing newspapers love more than a big storm. I jumped into the fray with a few items for Metro on the second largest snowfall in recorded Philadelphia history in today’s paper.

The second worst snowstorm in Philadelphia’s recorded history welcomed John Hutchison to Fishtown over the weekend.

Read the rest of the main story here.

With intrepid photographer Rikard Larma, I trekked through the snowy streets of riverward neighborhood Fishtown and then up to some big box stores in Port Richmond.

A few extras below.

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