Smokin' Joe Frazier's feud with Muhammad Ali cools


Boxing legend Joe Frazier is again the focus of a story of mine, though this time I’ve filed a Frazier piece for, likely the most recognizable brand in sports reporting for a half-century.

“Smokin'” Joe Frazier is still fighting.

The former heavyweight champion of the world is 65 now, and his mind isn’t nearly as quick as his fists once were. His days are often spent traveling for appearances, doing interviews and signing autographs. He maintains the same workout routine he had in his prime, and he still rises at 4 a.m., restless and beholden to a schedule he no longer has to keep. [Source]

Go read the full story, comment and then come back here for some of the backstory.

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Bloggers need to respect old media

Updated 3:17 p.m. April 23, 2009

I was in Baltimore this weekend, which is fitting, considering some of the news that came out of the Charm City last week.

From Wired magazine blog Epicenter:

The Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun issued Jeff Quiton of Inside Charm City a cease-and-desist letter claiming that Quinton has been republishing “substantial portions” of The Sun’s content, and because the infringement was willful, Quinton could face up to $150,000 per violation in addition to lawyers fees.

The Sun took issue with Quiton copying large portions of their stories, though the suit added they don’t have a problem with a headline and a graf being used by bloggers if links are included.

It’s another case of old media taking on new media. And I am completely on the side of old media on this one.

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Journalism classes that aren't regularly available but should be

Students learn. Now lets teach them something they need.

Students learn. Now let's teach them something they need.

My friend Sean Blanda once regularly wrote on the failures of journalism schools. It’s not exactly my territory because I studied politics, not journalism in school.

But, I’ve heard enough from friends and colleagues. It seems most everything they learned, I learned while working at my college newspaper.

The journalism school at Temple University, like many other top j-schools, is chock full of talent. Temple is dripping with accomplished reporters, so I long decided j-school is for contacts, not knowledge.

That’s never more true than now, because, well, most all professors at j-schools are from an era that digitization is fast making irrelevant (There are many exceptions, two at Temple being here and here). The rules are broken and more than ever, journalism schools are repugnantly, distastefully, woefully far from leading students to careers, aside from the Temple name and, yes, the contacts they make.

I’m nearly a year out and embroiled in a freelance career, so I thought up a few classes I’d like to see j-schools teach.

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WHYY: Joe Frazier wants his whole story told

Interviewing Smokin Joe Frazier in his Center City apartment on Monday, April 6, 2009 for WHYY, Philadelphia's NPR affiliate.

Boxing legend Joe Frazier is the focus of my second professionally produced radio piece, though the first to carry the radio station’s name in my disptatch. Eight months after filing a trial state government report for the Harrisburg bureau of KYW 1060 news radio, I proudly completed a feature report for WHYY, Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate.

I interviewed Frazier, recorded my narration in a sound booth in WHYY’s Old City headquarters and edited it all together with natural sound — aided immeasurably by the patient stewardship of WHYY Web producer Dan Pohlig. I also wrote a short post to run with the piece on the public radio station’s Unobstructed View blog.

In a city eager for celebrities, I’ve never quite understood why we haven’t embraced Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Most of Joe Frazier’s life, which has seen him rise to international, cultural icon and then fade into the shadows, has been spent calling Philadelphia home.

The 65-year-old former heavyweight champion of the world beat Muhammad Ali once, but officially lost to him twice, including in the famed 1975 Thrilla in Manila, which is featured in a new eponymous HBO documentary. [Source]

Read more and hear my audio report here or below.

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Then come back to read the backstory and some of what didn’t make it into the final report below.

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Care about the future of news? then go to the national BarCamp NewsInnovation conference

Register to attend!

In launching, co-founders Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I lamented that despite encompassing the fourth largest media market in the country, being its most historic and one of its more culturally impactful cities, Philadelphia wasn’t often the home of important tech conferences or part of broader discussions.

Despite also being home to major universities and sitting in the middle of a confluence of other important urban centers like D.C., Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh and Boston.

So, when Jason Kristufek led the push to hold several regional and then a national BarCamp for NewsInnovation, I was thrilled that Blanda took control of the situation like the great leader he is, and brought the national version to Philly, specifically Temple University.

If you’re a tech-head or a news hound or anyone who cares about the future of news gathering and dissemination, the Fourth Estate or the protection and defense of democracy, I certainly hope you will sign up to attend even some of the FREE national BarCamp NewsInnovation to held be held all day this Saturday, April 25.

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What was lost in the coverage of a student journalist and a Philadelphia cop


Update: 7:40 p.m. on April 23, 2009: The involved officer was suspended with intent to dismiss. That news also came from the Inquirer and Daily News.

Update: 10:12 p.m. on May 6, 2009: Ms. McDonald was the feature of a cover story in the Northeast Times.

The attention has probably subsided enough to write this now.

Shannon McDonald, whom I’ve known for nearly two years, got a round of 15 minutes of fame she didn’t quite want.

On March 31, the Philadelphia Daily News ran a story on the growing ire of a group of the city’s black cops.

The controversy surrounded around a single officer, and, it seems, Shannon started it all.

At least a month before, the 21-year-old senior Temple University journalism student had to write a feature story for a class. So, thinking a cop-ride-along would be a simple, strong and fast assignment for a class she’s eager to finish, Shannon contacted the 22nd Philadelphia police district, which covers her assigned Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.

Then she wrote, as would surprise no one who knows her, a tidy, professional 900-word profile on Bill Thrasher, the officer with whom she rode. That was in February. It was a school assignment.

I spoke to her after the ride along.

“How was it?” I asked.

“OK,” she said, in a way that makes me certain she neither expected nor wanted any attention for the story.

It took a month for her expectations to be proven shortsighted.

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Inquirer: The secret life of a ballerina

Brooke Moore finds her offstage challenge outdoors, hiking national parks across the country. Photo by SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer

Brooke Moore finds her offstage challenge outdoors, hiking national parks across the country. Photo by SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer

I cover the secret passions of a handful of Pennsylvania Ballet dancers in a story for the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday.

It was last summer when Brooke Moore figured she and her father had probably scared away a mountain lion.

The deer they discovered was freshly killed, its leg just torn off; there were no bugs and the blood trail was visible. The two didn’t pay it much mind, though, and continued their weeklong, 85-mile backpacking trek through the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands.

Just another day in the life of a ballerina. Read the rest here.

See the story, comment and return to see the Pennsylvania Ballet in action and to read what didn’t make it in my story.

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PW: College rapper Asher Roth from Bucks County to hip hop star

Asher Roth in a promo photo sporting an "I Love New York" T-shirt despite his suburban Philly roots. "I don't think geography matters shit to Asher," says his manager Scooter Braun.

Asher Roth in a promo photo sporting an “I Love New York” T-shirt despite his suburban Philly roots. “I don’t think geography matters shit to Asher,” says his manager Scooter Braun.

I helped profile upcoming rapper Asher Roth in the cover story of today’s Philadelphia Weekly.

If there’s any truth in Revolutionary Road, American Beauty, Mad Men and the writing of John Cheever—that everyone in suburbia is secretly miserable, living life with crushing boredom or a crippling secret that’s killing them softly—you wouldn’t believe it on the first warm spring day in West Chester, Pa., where the flowers are finally beginning to bloom and college kids equipped with backpacks scramble across town to classes they’re running late for.

It’s a quaint borough. Gorgeous. “Diverse … prosperous … collegiate … accessible,” its website proudly boasts. Huge, impressive houses spring up behind white picket fences. Lush pastures of rolling green farmland dominate the landscape. Picturesque. Peaceful. Idyllic.

This is where “I Love College”—the boozy, marijuana-worshipping, horny ode to university life—was born. Read the rest here.

Read the story, comment, spread the word and then come on back for what didn’t make it in and some Asher video interviews.

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Beware working for friends, freelancers

I apprenticed with a plumber on and off for a couple years at the beginning of my college career.

He’d always tell me, “Don’t do work for friends.”

It rarely ends well. Someone ends up feeling screwed, but no one wants to say it when friendships are on the line. When it comes to soft crafts like writing, it’s even harder to get things settled.

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PW: International techno legend Josh Wink on Philly and his future


He’s an internationally-recognized DJ and techno producer with the same last name as me, but I never heard of Josh Wink.

Until, that is, a source from a completely unrelated story mentioned him. That led to a profile of Wink, who lives in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood, for Philadelphia Weekly.

For Philadelphians not of a certain age, he just might be the most famous resident of Northern Liberties you’ve never heard of. To those who were active on the city’s rock, rave and club scenes in the 1990s, Josh Wink is a deejaying visionary and techno legend.

Twenty years after his first album, Wink has released his When A Banana Was Just A Banana LP and embarked on another extended European tour. But he’s torn between the Philly he calls home and the continent that has catapulted him into another stratosphere on the international house music scene.

“I would love to live in Europe as I spend half my time there,” Wink said in an e-mail before leaving for engagements in Amsterdam, Vilnus, Lithuania and others — his tour dates can be found at — but “there is something about Philly that most people understand that keeps us coming back.”

It can’t be the adulation he gets here. Read the rest here.

Go check out the story, comment and come back and see where the idea came from and other extras below.

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