‘Citizen Journalism’ is a phrase just like ‘Horseless carriage,’ and we needed both


News-gathering can be profitable — there are oodles of examples of them. The challenge is taking those dollars to create the most efficiently-produced local journalism.

The big solution and sure trend of the future is fostering a community that covers itself.

The Quick Take

Citizen journalism is a transitional phrase that will soon be as dated as ‘horseless carriage’ is now

But we’re in a period of transition so the ‘citizen’ distinction serves a purpose.

So I’ve been thrilled to see that NEast Philly, the year-old, hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia to which I contribute and handle Web operations, has been slowly receiving more reader submissions. Lately, Editor Shannon McDonald tells me she’s receiving an item or two a week from readers.

We’ve been encouraging readers to send in photos, brief write-ups of their community events and any other kind of reporting that anyone can do. It’s coming, but still most comes from McDonald tracking down information, submissions and contacts.

I’m one to describe this as ‘UGC‘ — user-generated content — and have been known to use the phrase “citizen journalism.” After doing so once more, I was pointed to a few dated conversations about just how dated that phrase might be, and I have some thoughts on why it’s a concept that still has value.

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City Paper: Chris Bartlett, Gay History Wiki and preserving a community

CP_2009-11-26Today — yes on Thanksgiving — I’m happy to say I have the cover story on this week’s Philadelphia City Paper, the popular alternative newsweekly, profiling Chris Bartlett and his push to chronicle the lives of 4,600 gay men he says died in Philadelphia after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

Chris Bartlett sits down with his egg roll, just as the weekday lunch rush pours into Reading Terminal Market. At 43, this short, fiery gay man with tightly cropped, graying hair and thin, pursed lips, is already something of an elder statesman in Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community. For nearly two decades, he’s been at the center of just about every gay- and AIDS-related movement to hit this city’s streets. [More]

I previously wrote a shorter feature on Bartlett and his Gay History Wiki for Technically Philly, and he was recently interviewed by the Philadelphia Gay News.

Below, as always, check the extras from a half dozen interviews I did and other goodies from the research of this piece.

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Reflections on CUNY graduate school New Journalism Models Hyperlocal camp

Jarvis at Hypercamp edit

Author, blogger and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis begins his Hypercamp on Nov. 11, 2009 at the College University of New York's graduate school of journalism.

Highly localized news and its intersection with profitable, sustainable news is already starting to dominate conversations about the future of news in the United States.

The numbers and business plans, relationships with each other and with legacy news organizations and who will be written into history for leading the movement seemed trending themes of the  New Business Models for (Local) News Hypercamp summit at the modern, sleek and sexy (read: expensive looking) midtown Manhattan home of the College University of New York’s graduate school of journalism.

Held two weeks ago today, the invite-only affair was blasted the world over by way of social media, notably a wildly active Twitter hashtag, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth sharing my experience at the Nov. 11 event.

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Temple Review: Profile of lawyer-turned TV producer Lukas Reiter

I contributed a short profile of a 1995 Temple University law graduate to the winter issue of Temple Review, the university’s alumni magazine.

Trial lawyers are storytellers, and Lukas Reiter, LAW ’95, always wanted to be a storyteller. He’s just taken it one step further now.

After graduating from the Klein School of Law, Reiter, 39, took a job as an assistant district attorney in the Queens County of his native New York City. Two years in and exhausted from the grind of the homicide investigations bureau, Reiter decided he needed a break. That break became a fast-paced ride toward another avenue for storytelling, as one of TV’s most respected authorities on crime and law drama, with a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced prime time show that premiered on ABC this fall…..

Pick up a copy or browse other stories here. Watch the trailer of the Forgotten TV series.

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Community newspapers: a panel and their use of the Web at PhIJI


Community newspapers in Philadelphia remain wary of the Web, if any stock is to be paid to a morning panel from a journalism innovation conference held this month at Temple University.

Technically Philly was a partner in hosting PhIJI

Technically Philly was a partner in hosting PhIJI

Their thoughts just might be relevant to community-focused news gathers across the country.

Hosted by Temple’s journalism department, the Philadelphia Initiative for Journalistic Innovation was a day’s worth of smaller sessions focusing far less about the plight of big newspapers and more about smaller, more entrepreneurial ventures. Yes, the future of news just might be a series of conferences about the future of news, but I was happy to see a greater focus on the business side of the industry.

With the help of supportive chair Andy Mendelson, Temple journalism professor George Miller put together one of the first future of news conferences I’ve seen that tried to really pay attention to sustainability through profit. There’s incredible value in that, so I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Along with my two fellow co-founders of Technically Philly, I presented twice a session called ‘Be a Publisher Now’ on free tools that news-organizations and bloggers could make use of to create become more efficient and better prepared. See our presentation slides here.

I also got the opportunity to sit in on a session focused how community newspapers were dealing with the 21st-century’s dramatic paradigm shift in news-gathering. That’s where I was left more than a little puzzled.

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Blogging for Big Kids


Blogging for Big Kids

Small Business Social Media Mentoring Tele-class | Nov. 23, 2009

How to take your blog to the next level with more sophisticated, low cost features like web video, photo slideshows, free Google apps, social media integration and ways to have fun with it while jamming some traffic to your site. This is how you create a place for customers, clients and friends to know what you’re offering, how to get it, why they need it and make it look good for low cost. [Description here]

You can also download this as a PDF here.


A. Introductions

  1. What’s your 30-second introduction?
  2. I’ll pull up some of your WordPress sites you built since the previous session
  3. Why I’m worth your time — I’ll give a quick intro, so you don’t think I’m making everything up

B. What you’ll leave tonight with

  1. A clear understanding of why a small business might blog and how
  2. Tools to automate and promote your blog
  3. Tools to liven up your blog content

C. Rehash last week’s session

  1. Domain=Address; Hosting=Land; Platform=House
  2. Small businesses should use blogging to build relationships and authority
  3. You should only be blogging if you’re passionate (brief and easy to read)

D. Evangelical Embed

  • Use the existing multimedia world (i.e. Every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.)
  • Slide.com for photo slideshows on WordPress.com or Flickr.com otherwise
  • Youtube for video on WordPress.com or Viddler otherwise

E. Learn to hug RSS

  1. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a chronological feed of your content (Often “YourSite.com/feed”)
  2. Plop that on your Facebook page
  3. Automate those pretty little sidebars with links to social media accounts and content

F. [If time] Give in to Google

  1. Gmail account
  2. Feedburner
  3. Google Calendar

G. Take Aways

  1. Small businesses blog to create connections, build authority and share information
  2. Tools to liven up your blog content: existing video and photos or your own
  3. Tools to automate and promote your blog: RSS feeds with social media and others on your site
  4. If you need any additional help, contact me and maybe we can work together on this stuff.
Number of Views:2572

Biden defends hyperaction at Committee of Seventy breakfast

Biden at Seventy breakfast edit

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


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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