Notes on reporting a challenging community journalism profile

I bylined a challenging profile of a Philly tech community member that published on last week. It was a 30-interview, 7,000-word kind of longread, something different than work I’ve done before.

I felt the story was important for a local community I serve, but I also felt there were broader lessons and concepts that I believe have relevance to other small communities everywhere. Between that and my own personal interest in continuing to develop my credentials in that kind of work, I invested quite a bit of my free time to the project over the last month.

We have published other pieces of longform — see other examples here. But this was the first person-specific long read profile I’ve written — others came close but were far less exhaustive. I have some thoughts to share below. If you haven’t already, please read the piece here.

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Read my piece in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

One of the challenges I gave myself this year was to sharpen my humor writing. Though I like to think of myself of something resembling funny in person — would you like to hear a knock knock joke? — this is not a quality that I have developed in my writing.

So with that in mind, I took on several causes in fiction writing recently. I’m proud to say that that resulted in a small, playful item of mine being published by the Internet Tendency, the online satire site of well-known publisher McSweeney’s. I summoned my own entrepreneurship experience and coverage of other founders and startup culture: “REALLY, EVERYTHING IS GOING GREAT AT MY TECH STARTUP. I JUST HAVE SOME PAYROLL QUESTIONS.”

Read it here.

It was fun to see people I know share the piece without knowing I wrote it, in addition to McSweeney fans (and I am one) enjoying it too. It was a new experience writing for a publication I know well. I hope you enjoy.

CJR: How Vice President Rendell makes me want to be a journalist

The Columbia Journalism Review finally came to its senses and realized it can’t survive without my work. …Sorta.

On Wednesday, a personal essay of mine was featured on the CJR Web site.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell will be named Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate, a high-ranking source in the administration told the Patriot-News.

That was my lede after being tricked into believing Rendell was Obama’s No. 2 man by a famed newsroom of top-flight state government correspondents in the Harrisburg state capital.

This isn’t the story of the Pennsylvania governor being named Obama’s running mate. This is the story of how the economy is in free fall, newspapers are on life-support, and yet they still can’t get rid of me.  Read the rest here.

Go read the story and comment there! Spread the word and show interest in the story.

Below see some portions of the story I cut.

Continue reading CJR: How Vice President Rendell makes me want to be a journalist