District 172: John Perzel coverage for NEast Philly, funded by JLab

 

Though I took part in three of 14 JLab-funded Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund projects, first announced here last fall, I led one of them.

For Northeast Philadelphia hyperlocal NEast Philly, I helped lead the editorial direction of a project called District 172: the politics of change after state Rep. John Perzel.

Following the indicted former state Speaker of the House, whose corruption trial has been postponed until the fall, we covered what the impact the loss of a 30-year state leader would be on his district, particularly a small swath that had served as his political base.

 

Find all the coverage here.

I had the following roles:

“Being a reporter is only lately a respectable occupation:” Calvin Trillin

Former Time and New Yorker journalist Calvin Trillin on why there is less drinking in journalism. He references this New York Times story on the changing face of big name journalists.

“Being a reporter is only lately a respectable occupation.”

Former New York Times reporter Gay Talese telling a story about drinking in his old newspaper days

25 things I learned from the best newspapermen (and women) around

Dallas News reporter John Rosenfield sitting at desk, behind typewriter in Houston, TX in November 1948. Photo by Michael Rougier for Life magazine.

Tradition matters to me.

It gives us culture. It is a way to pay remembrance for those who came before. Yes, it’s a little bit fun.

In the world of news, there is a lot of tradition that needs to be lost. Unquestioned impartiality, balance without real context, an ignorance and distance of what funds it, a rigid belief in a strictly reactionary audience.

But, I’ve always felt, there is lot to be taken in from the past. I’ve been blessed to work alongside some talented and hungry older journalists who have imparted great wisdom on me. I thought some of that tradition was worth sharing as, in my own way, I try to preserve the best of it.

Below, find 25 pieces of advice about being a newsman that I take great value in.

Continue reading 25 things I learned from the best newspapermen (and women) around

Transparencity: Leading a Technically Philly open data grant project

On behalf of Technically Philly, I have started work on a six-month, William Penn Foundation-funded journalism project called Transparencity, covering the open data movement in Philadelphia, as was announced this morning.

Conducted in partnership with the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University (which is chaired by my college honors thesis adviser), the project’s focus is “toward collaborative projects using technology and journalism to increase the availability and use of actionable government data.”

The support helps bolster existing coverage and allows me to strengthen relationships with new and previously only tenuous sources. Read all about our goals and expectations on the Technically Philly post here.

Those outputs show our work will extend beyond traditional coverage, but, to start, that has been a large part. I’ll update more here on the reporting that I am doing.

The William Penn Foundation is technically funding the nonprofit Institute, which, in serving as our fiduciary agent, is contracting out for-profit Technically Media Inc.’s Technically Philly news site. …Did ya get all that?

Why did you become a journalist?

Zoltan Glass: A Journalist writing in his BMW, Paris 1934 © Science & Society Picture Library, UK

I was asked what it is I actually enjoy about this journalism world, its form and practice.

So I rattled off some answers:

  • I like writing
  • I like telling stories.
  • I like getting a little bit closer to truth.
  • I like focusing on different conversations.
  • I love asking questions and learning.

All of my interest and focus on business has come from these passions, though, entrepreneurship itself has certainly become intertwined, as building your own company is one hell of an education.

BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0: My take aways and experience

I speak during Technically Philly's afternoon session at BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0 at Temple University on April 24, 2010, organization of which was led by Sean Blanda, at left.

They weren’t from around here, were they, shouted my neighbor across the street over the weekend.

She was talking about a pack of young journalists — from Florida and Washington state and California — who had invaded my Fishtown rowhome the weekend before.

That was perhaps one of the largest take aways I drew from attending and, by way of Technically Philly, co-sponsoring BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0 April 24 — the staggering drawing power of the event in just its second year.

Continue reading BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0: My take aways and experience

Philadelphia newspaper auction aftershocks, including Hitler

There are new owners at 400 North Broad Street, the historic home of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, which publish online with stand-alone sister organization Philly.com. The movement begins immediately and will likely result in a closing by the end of June.

Go here for the financial details of the auction of parent company Philadelphia Media Holdings, which was taken over by debt-holding lenders, not the existing local ownership led by Publisher Brian Tierney.

Such large daily newspapers going on the chopping block at a time of continued media fracturing makes for national news, meaning intellectual conversations have ranged from how Philadelphia now compares to other big cities like Minneapolis and why the conversation around this city is so prevalent in media circles.

It’s also meant that the Hitler film parody meme that had a swift death this very month, has been brought back in — I believe — wonderful, insider hilarity. (Aside from the missing ‘been’ on the first subtitle.)

Continue reading Philadelphia newspaper auction aftershocks, including Hitler

Ten things a journalist should never do

Poynter curated a list of 100 things a journalist should never do.

As these things tend to do, it became a rambling collections of do’s and don’ts, but it was interesting nonetheless. Ten stuck with me as among the most important.

  1. Strive for context rather than information. Information is plentiful, context is scarce. (@rsm4lsu)
  2. Journalists should be skeptical, not cynical. (@jmestepa)
  3. Always make your last question “Is there anything else I should have asked?” (@jamessaft)
  4. A journalist should never be a friendly dog when reporting and then go snake at the keyboard. ABC. Always Be Congruent. (@carr2n)
  5. Always be willing to let any answer — including one on deadline — completely change the story’s direction.
  6. Journalists should be available. Let people know how to e-mail you, call, IM, DM or otherwise get in touch.
  7. Journalists should be active community members. If you aren’t of the people, you aren’t by the people or for the people.
  8. Journalists should be comfortable with silence during interviews. You’ll hear & learn more if you’re not talking.
  9. Journalists should never plead ignorance about the business of news, who pays, how & why. It’s not purist, it’s irresponsible.
  10. “Look for stories people might miss, even standing next to you. Be curious about seemingly ordinary lives.” http://ow.ly/IS94

Hyperlocal news: a definition

Image courtesy of PFSK.com.
Image by Minh Uong/The New York Times.

Hyperlocal news is as much as a buzz phrase for those in news media today as anything else — yes, even social media.

But as these things happen, no real definition seems to hit at what we’re talking about, and I was surprised to not be able to easily find someone who tried to give one.

So, expecting some comments to show where I missed one or simply critiquing my own, I humbly submit one, if only for my own understanding.

Continue reading Hyperlocal news: a definition

Pointing to free online ways to train journalists

I received some degree of criticism recently on a post about journalism classes I wish were more readily available in college J-schools.

I openly admit some forms of them already are and that many colleges have wonderful professors looking forward and doing great work with them. Still, I stand by the conversation being an important one — needling great institutions further.

That’s perhaps why I thought it funny that someone e-mailed me soon after that post and directed me to a collection of 50 open courses that could offer many of the basics of j-school.

They point to a variety online resources, including a great many of them from MIT’s open coursewares — part of a phenomenon on which I’ve written before. It seemed like another swing at j-schools. It’s far away from the name recognition, networking and other assets of a traditional school, but it’s certainly good for the dialogue.

See some of the best and some thoughts below.

Continue reading Pointing to free online ways to train journalists