01:10: Hip Hop Icon T.I.

Who better to explore one of popular writing’s most contested modern debates than an icon who has worked on both sides of that debate? That’s why today’s episode of The Writing Process Podcast, the final of this first season, is with T.I.

Conventional wisdom tells that the process of developing rap lyrics was polarized by the genre’s most prolific star: Jay-Z maintained he would develop lyrics in his mind, influencing Biggie’s habit of not writing lyrics either. That transformed a generation of rap stars into memory-led lyricists.

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I interviewed Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf during Philly Tech Week 2017

After trying last year, with just a week’s notice, we were able to coordinate to add to Philly Tech Week a conversation with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. I interviewed him on-stage.

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I donated to a political campaign for the first time in my life

Let’s start with scale: I attended a political fundraiser and wrote a check for $250.

Next, consider context: it was for someone I’ve known for longer than I can remember, among the closest of my family friends, who lived a few houses down from me when I was just a few months old.

Even still, I actually agonized a bit about the decision. Journalism is a thicket of rules and expectations and among the loudest is to stay objective in politics and distant from the money that feeds it. I was worried my donating would cloud the work I do as editorial director at niche publisher Technically Media. Here’s why I decided it was the right decision.

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What I learned from publishing a local news newsletter for 18 months

Since I’ve launched a new personal curated newsletter project and an old related URL shortener project was finally archived, I’ve been thinking about my first experiment with email audience.

In April 2012, we at Technically Media announced Ph.ly, a URL shortener that had a companion content strategy — a curated weekly newsletter sharing the three biggest pieces of local journalism or civic information. Over the next 18 months, I published the weekly newsletter as a side project and experiment. Here are a few things I learned before sidelining the project by 2014.

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Notes on putting the Technical.ly podcast on hiatus

After 18 months and two phases of the fledgling side project, we’re setting aside the monthly Technical.ly podcast.

We couldn’t invest the time into the project that it required, it didn’t fit into our short-term strategy and the audience wasn’t growing fast enough for an exception to be made. (We were only regularly getting a few hundred downloads).

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Horse tales

Riding outside West Fairmount Parks Belmont Stables, in early spring 2005
Riding outside West Fairmount Park’s Belmont Stables, in early spring 2005

It took me to leave rural northwest New Jersey, where I grew up, and to go to Philadelphia, where I went to college, to saddle up and actually develop a small knowledge base about Western-style horse riding.

I cleaned stalls and helped out Ike Johnstone at Belmont Stables, an historic West Fairmount Park building where Johnstone hosts the Bill Picket Riding Academy, through which he teachs anti-violence and communication to North Philadelphia kids. In exchange, Johnstone taught me some rudimentary riding skills.

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5 Aljazeera hackathon projects that signal future news innovation

On editorial teams that I’ve been a part of, two tasks not core to reporting still take up time that I think could be more automated. Both were attempted to be addressed at Canvas, the first media innovation hackathon organized by Aljazeera in Qatar this weekend.

I am proud to say I was there in Doha this week serving as one of 10 mentors for the 90 participants from 37 countries who were chosen out of 1,600 applicants (40 percent of those chosen were women). The winning projects were chosen out of 19. (Other favorites)

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