Quietly last fall, NEastPhilly.com, the hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia, marked three years since having been launched as a college project by now WHYY NewsWorks feed blogger Shannon McDonald.
Though I spent much of that time contributing coverage, I now play the role of web editor, helping keep the site up and functional. Shannon has had more than 20 contributors, a handful of them to date, and has done serious journalism and meaningful community coverage, on her own and with outreach from residents and readers.
Though an after-hours labor of love of hers, I’ve remained impressed with the relative impact of NEast Philly, so, three years later, I wanted to share some metrics.
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:
- Reported two feature stories, including the final piece on how community building in Mayfair and elsewhere may be undergoing a sea change, and a second piece on the touchy subject of redistricting and Perzel, in addition to some smaller items.
- I interviewed Perzel’s replacement, Democrat Kevin Boyle, his staff and had Perzel fail to respond to comment following repeated attempts through his attorney.
- I spoke to more than a half dozen neighborhood leaders and others with perspective on the matter.
- With NEast Philly founder Shannon McDonald, I helped carve out the editorial direction and direct the Temple University Philadelphia Neighborhoods interns, who were our partnering organization.
- I designed the District 172 branding.
- I developed a layout for the District 172 landing page and worked with Frankford Gazette co-founder Jimmy Smiley to publish it.
- I gave copy and content to Smiley for our Players and Timeline section, two more interactive tools on the page.
The Columbia Journalism Review launched this year its News Frontier Database, meant to be a curated directory of independent online news organizations, included the two niche sites on which I collaborate.
Including those two, there are just four Pennsylvania sites listed, all from Philadelphia, including also PlanPhilly, with which Technically Media is now doing some work, and another FactCheck.
Facebook pushes traffic and helps build an online community.
I’m interested in moving to the next step, creating more compelling Facebook pages that keep people coming back, attract more eyeballs, develop brands, help create communication and, of course, help push eyeballs.
I’ve been moving through some conversations, trying to pull out the best lessons. I’m not behind anything compelling yet, but I’d love to do something fun with NEast Philly’s incredibly active Facebook page.
Some worthy reading below:
I had no heat, two plastic chairs and a coffee table. I was chasing down the last of that year’s freelancing invoices to make about $16,000.
I was certainly still privileged for an endless list of reasons, but, to put it shortly, for a lot of reasons, 2009 was a miserable year for me. The three of us all had disappointing years. We all agreed that 2010 was going to better. Much, much better.
What I did do last year was reflect on 2009 and decided upon a theme: slow start.
I haven’t paid it much mind until now, but I think that’s a great task, summing up a year and trying to move in the direction of another for the following year. In that post, I suggested 2010 would have to be a year of ‘next steps.’
Basically, I need a thousand flowers to bloom so I could see which one I wanted to pick.
As expected, 2010 was a much, much better year. It was a year of tremendous growth for me, and, yes, next steps, as I’ll reflect upon below.
Yes, I’m doing a resolutions post. If for no other reason than to hold myself accountable.
Looking at last year’s professional goals, which were much more about staying afloat financially, I think this year, the theme is laying the foundation of sustainability to grow a business and opportunities at journalism and the like.
I broke them out more specifically by month, as I did for last year’s personal resolutions:
About a year ago, I hadn’t come across a good list of someone trying to track all of the community news sites worth covering. So I did so myself.
I only recently come across someone doing a much better job of it, so I’ll leave it to her.
For the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Michele McLellan has dug in and created four main and seven overall categories for the always growing list of community sites.
It’s interesting to watch these numbers swell. Below, check out her categories and follow links to her lists.
I’m proud to say that I’ll have a small part in three of the fourteen inaugural reporting projects funded by the Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Fund, as announced Tuesday.
Funded by the William Penn Foundation and administered by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, a center of American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C, the $5,000 micro-grant awardees were based on recommendations from an April 2010 report by J-Lab.
Earlier this month, I went on a ride-along with the West Frankford Town Watch in lower Northeast Philadelphia. For the love of hyperlocal journalism and community coverage, I put together a 2,500 word profile of the organization, with a handful of photos of mine. It was good to remember that I got into this whole scene for a love of writing. Give it a read and let me know what you think.
Mike Mawson smells something.
It’s past midnight on Comly Street near Bustleton in Mayfair. The sun went down hours ago, but forgot to take this sticky July heat with it. Mawson is riding shotgun in the sensible four-door sedan that his partner Phil Pappas drives. The West Frankford Town Watch patrol was circling around to head back south of Cheltenham Avenue to drive the streets of its namesake neighborhood when Mawson caught a whiff of something off in the still nighttime air.
“It smells like something is burning,” confirms soft-featured Pappas, 53, sitting upright with two hands on the steering wheel and dressed with purpose in matching earthtones. “I’ll pull over.” MORE
Read the rest of it here.