I originally posted this on Medium here. It received considerable endorsement, including here, here and here.
Early professional news networks in the 14th and 15th centuries were couriers on horseback, informing warlords and merchants. Even competitors saw the value in shared professional news gathering, when there wasn’t a state-owned alternative. Subscriptions, then, subsidized the first foreign affairs and business reporters.
Over the next 500 years, innovations in distribution and in printing and paper technology shaped professional news-gathering into the 20th century model we most recognize today: advertising revenue subsidized relatively low unit costs to ensure widely available mass media (albeit almost exclusively from a white male perspective, but that needs its own post entirely).
Today we’re well into the first generation of the digital transformation of news-gathering and distribution. Yet we as journalism practitioners are still managing to underestimate how dramatically things have changed.
Continue reading ‘Journalism Thinking’ doesn’t need a business model. It needs a call to arms
A version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter a couple weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.
In high school, my varsity soccer coach would preach: Masters change speed.
The best players aren’t always the fastest. They are the ones who can go fast and then slow. Dribble the ball at a sprint. Stop. Pause. Redirect. Sprint again. Pace. Pace. Pace.
It’s among the lessons from my youth I reflect on most often. It carries through so much of my life. I love speed. It takes mastery to manage on deadline, something I surely learned from newsrooms. Yet, as I age, I’m most proud of how I can find moments of calm to slow down amid my frenetic pace.
Continue reading To be great, you must know how to change speed
Anybody worth learning from has plenty they stand for.
I love hearing the rules of thumb, the standards, the conventional wisdom and the accrued learnings of these people. Similarly I try to capture tightly-phrased aphorisms and holding myself accountable with plenty of direct and specific lists and resolutions.
So of course I was a sucker for the concept of ‘12 Rules for Life.’ It’s a book published early this year by Jordan Peterson that spiraled from popular to, fitting for today’s era, being engulfed in a strangely hyper-gendered debate. The book’s over-simplified approach of ordering one’s life with structure did gain positive feedback, including a podcast episode from Malcolm Gladwell. But because Peterson is aflame in lots of identity politics, I walked away from the the book less interested in adding to that debate than with something else.
I spent the last several months taking notes of the many universal truths I held myself to, and recommended for others. It became a fun game for parties among friends and family: what are your 12 Rules to Live By?
Let me share. (I collected ones from friends and family here)
Continue reading My 12 Rules to Live By
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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.
Continue reading 01:10: Hip Hop Icon T.I.
A friend asked me what I thought is the best skill to develop. Build the habit of habits, I told her.
That’s how you get the most out of yourself and your place. It won’t always work but if you develop the rigor and constitution to choose to add a habit and then go and do just that, you’ll be gold. That is how you develop discipline.
My method for doing this is my near obsessive approach to annual resolutions. Each year, I put forward a dozen of them, many straightforward goals but often several tied to habits I want to add to who I am. I tie them to individual months but in truth I plan to do many of them throughout the year and beyond.
Recently I was considering how many personality traits of mine I believe started as resolutions. I think they’re a good example of building the habit of building habits. I wanted to share.
Continue reading Build the habit of making habits: resolutions of mine that stuck
Policymakers and economic development strategists are startup crazy — in pursuit of a silly goal. I know. I’ve spent most of the last decade reporting on young tech companies, exactly the slice of firm creation that has led much of the attention in this post-recession fixation.
Though I’ve taken various approaches at understanding what, if anything, is really different about this era’s of business creation, I recently found myself pulling together some data that I wanted to share.
Hype around startups — newly created businesses, particularly ones that are approaching new business models — has merit. But the concept isn’t as new and their impact isn’t yet as bold as you might hope — Millennials are on pace to be one of the least entrepreneurial generations on record.
Continue reading Here’s the data to put our country’s startup frenzy into context
Peer-to-peer, short-term housing platform Airbnb is probably my favorite consumer web company. A traveling member since 2011, my wife SACM and I have been hosting travelers too for most of the last year. I’m a proud and happy user.
Yet I know that some of the loudest news about Airbnb in its last couple years of mainstream expansion has been controversial: first, about the company navigating municipal hotel taxes and, most recently, its central role in a conversation about racial bias in the sharing economy.
You know, #AirbnbWhileBlack.
So now that my wife and I have been hosting for nearly a year and have received more than 100 requests, I wanted review for our own selection bias.
Continue reading I am a white Airbnb host. I reviewed 102 guest requests to assess my own racial bias
I got engaged. Then I got married.
Between those two dates, I built one of the most involved spreadsheets of my life (yup, that’s something I think about). SACM and I used that spreadsheet to choose our wedding venue, predict attendance, invite guests, track purchases and monitor gifts. We’ve also been using it to give advice to friends.
Some of what we collected is private but lots of it is worth sharing for your own planning and budgeting purposes. That’s what I do below.
Continue reading I got married. Here’s a bunch of data on the experience.
A couple times a year, someone in Philadelphia technology will say to me, what that community really needs to broaden its prominence is “its own Tech Crunch,” a reference to the established and influential tech business blog with Silicon Valley roots. The implication is, with all due respect to the maturity of Technical.ly Philly (relative to our newer, smaller markets) and its readership and regular events, that Philadelphia needs a megaphone to a global audience of investors and talent.
When someone says this, I hide my cringe and instead I politely nod, before changing the subject.
Of course, a statement like that shows a profound lack of understanding of audience, goals and impact in online media. Tech Crunch is established and influential because it covers big, well-funded tech business nationally, not a fledgling community in a non-traditional hub. Technical.ly Philly looks the way it does because of where it is. It doesn’t have national readership because it isn’t national in focus. The people who say “we need a Tech Crunch,” are confusing outcomes and solutions (Silicon Valley was the global tech leader first, then it spawned Tech Crunch, not the other way around).
Put another way: Media is a Mirror. This is a problem that happens elsewhere.
Continue reading Journalism isn’t what we should try to save: Philly example
Approach pitching a reporter like any business act, with purpose. I gave an updated version of a presentation I’ve given before on how to get your business media attention, with my continuing to evolve thoughts about the process, as an editor and reporter, to a Small Bytes entrepreneurship conference at MIT in February. But the keynote was rapper turned actor Ice T and proved interesting to be sure.
He was funny, smart and, truly, actually fairly insightful. He knew who he was and was playful about that but he had a long life of experience. It made me think about how valuable time-developed wisdom is. Pop culture or not, he had some wonderful stories with practical thoughts.
Maybe the personally most amusing part was that because I spoke right before Ice T, he watched my talk and referenced it a few times, referring to me as “the reporter.” I will smile for years in the future whenever I think of Ice T saying, after I addressed the crowd and told them that the media doesn’t owe anyone any favors: “Like the reporter said, no one gives a fuck about you.”
Though I was expecting to mostly just be amused, instead, I found myself jotting down a few notes worth remembering. Find them below.
Continue reading 15 things Ice T said during an insightful speech at an MIT event I also spoke at