Journalism isn’t what we should try to save: Philly example

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).

This is a problem that happens elsewhere.

Continue reading Journalism isn’t what we should try to save: Philly example

New Media Unplugged: Technically Philly hosts indie publishers event with 215mag.com as part of #UncappedLive series

A variety of strategies and expectations remain, but online media conversations can’t happen in good conscious without at least a glancing mention of business sustainability.

That was my first takeaway from the New Media Unplugged #UncappedLive event held at the historic Sigma Sound Studios in Center City Philadelphia Tuesday night.

On behalf of Technically Philly, I hosted the event with Tayyib Smith of 215mag.com and led the conversation, featuring a half dozen five-minute introductions from niche publishers seated in chairs amongst 40 attendees in the room, decorated wildly by lead sponsor Vitamin Water and featuring free samples of Heineken Light, which didn’t turn out to be half bad.

See below some of what I learned.

Continue reading New Media Unplugged: Technically Philly hosts indie publishers event with 215mag.com as part of #UncappedLive series

JLab Enterprise Reporting Fund: Abandoned City and Broadband2035

Two more collaborative Philadelphia reporting projects in which I was involved have finished recently.

Part of the JLab-funded Enterprise Reporting Fund that paid for the NEast Philly District 172 project I shared recently, Abandoned City was a partnership between Technically Philly, PlanPhilly and CityPaper and Broadband2035 was a partnership between Technically Philly and PlanPhilly.

While I was involved with some strategy, reporting, introductions, planning and, for Broadband2035, I led the relationship with the city’s Planning Commission (more on that below), my colleague Brian James Kirk really led our roles in these two initiatives.

Abandoned City, depicted above was an investigation of vacant property in Philadelphia and its impact on communities.

  • CityPaper led the reporting and devoted a cover story and other print space for reporting
  • PlanPhilly offered additional reporting, editing and the web platform
  • Technically Philly initiated the partnership and worked with a developer to visualize and map those findings.

Broadband2035, which is ongoing, investigated the impact access to affordable broadband has on low-income communities

  • PlanPhilly offered reporting, editing and guidance
  • Technically Philly led the reporting, worked with the city’s Planning Commission to incorporate broadband plans into its comprehensive Philadelphia2035 vision and hosted the series page.

FCC report: local accountability journalism is lacking, impact small when present

The FCC released a year-long study on the state of local accountability journalism and the view is pessimistic, as the Seattle Times reports.

A lot of conversation has come from it, and I hope to add some greater thoughts here on the 40-plus page document. Download it here [PDF]. Author Steven Waldman gave a short presentation at last Thursday’s Aspen Institute roundtable.

Technically Philly is mentioned briefly, but in a section lamenting that what modest successes the Philadelphia market has had in local journalism is having a relatively small numerical impact, in terms of traffic. The report’s premise was defining meaningful impact by those sites that account for at least one percent of a region’s overall traffic.

The broad comScore coverage also allows us to piggyback onto recent in?depth studies of local journalism in the digital age. First, the Institute for Interactive Journalism authored a recent study of the online news ecosystem in Philadelphia. They claim to have identified 260 local blogs, including “about 60 [with] some journalistic DNA in that they report news, not just comment on it” (Shafer 2010). While J?Lab does not provide a full listing of the sites, they single out several as particularly successful examples. Metropolis is an online news outlet staffed by professional journalists with experience in traditional media. TechnicallyPhilly.com focuses on the city’s tech community. Public School Notebook covers Philly schools and local education issues. PlanPhilly.com concentrates on planning and zoning. SeptaWatch.org provides coverage of local transportation. The Broad Street Review provides coverage of the local arts scene. The Philadelphia media market provides the fourth?largest panel in the sample, making it easier to find low?market?reach sites here than it is almost anywhere else. PlanPhilly.com shows up just in the February data, with 7 visitors out of 7967 panelists. None of the other online news sources show up at all.

Read the entire report here [PDF].

Important reading and takeaways: