It’s worth noting that I’d bet a lot of old head Inquirer folks will remind others that the paper tried something not unlike hyperlocal with its Neighborhoods initiative, dropping Inqy staffers to every gosh darn civic meeting around. It didn’t take, from what I hear.
That said, this is surely part of what Dan Victor and company are doing over there, and I’m always excited to experimentation. I support people doing anything with a plan. Maybe it’ll fit into my vision for what Philly.com should become.
For Philly.com to maintain and expand upon its role as the dominant hub site in the Philadelphia region, it needs to become a comprehensive, collaborative and open source for all news, information and analysis that happens, reflects and impacts this metro area.
Contrary to what perhaps many at PMN may believe, the more than 200 combined editorial staff members are not, and likely cannot, currently produce that comprehension. Nor should they.
Philly.com’s reach will always be stilted — by other major, also growing online audiences for local TV news websites, suburban newspapers, a nascent, if not yet real, threat in the NewsWorks initiative from WHYY, and other community sites — until it realizes it shouldn’t be a newspaper landing page but the ultimate authority of regional content. That’s a problem for the future success of a brand with a business model predicated on more eyeballs.
Let me be clear here: I have many friends who work there. I think they do great work. This is not at all a criticism of the work done there, but rather, some thoughts for developing their Philly.com brand. I’m an outsider and a journalism geek, so it’s fun to brainstorm. OK, follow my thoughts below:
Do news organizations have responsibility for their outcome?
That became the final and, I think, as yet unanswered close to a discussion I led during the final session of the third national BarCamp NewsInnovation, held Saturday April 30 at Temple University and rounding out the inaugural Philly Tech Week. [See past BCNI write ups here.]
Overall I felt this BCNI, with some 150 attendees from startup shops and some serious brands, featured more sessions that embodied that unconference spirit in being less presentation and more dialogue, something I don’t think I felt in the past. I was also interested to see the true step forward past social media and other tools and into sustainability, which I find to be a far more important place to be.
To that end and coming off Philly Tech Week, without preparation, I proposed a session in the day’s final hour: “A conversation on news as a convener.”