I got married. Here’s a bunch of data on the experience.

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.

5 reminders for every local news startup, with a focus on Philly’s ‘Billy Penn’ from Jim Brady

If you were setting out to launch a local, city-wide, civic affairs and breaking news outfit today, there are a few clear first steps I’d encourage you to take. Understand deeply and succinctly why and for whom you are doing this. Plan clearly how you hope to sustain the thing, and have a rough idea of what you think the thing might be.

So I’m assuming that work is already done for Billy Penn, just such an effort here in Philadelphia that is soon-to-be-launched by Jim Brady, a news media executive popular in national online media circles, and Chris Krewson, a former Philadelphia Inquirer online editor who has returned after several years on the West Coast.

Now let’s think about what comes next.

Continue reading 5 reminders for every local news startup, with a focus on Philly’s ‘Billy Penn’ from Jim Brady

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

Do news orgs have a responsibility for action?: Notes from BarCamp NewsInnovation 2011

Do news organizations have responsibility for their outcome?

That became the final and, I think, as yet unanswered close to a discussion I led during the final session of the third national BarCamp NewsInnovation, held Saturday April 30 at Temple University and rounding out the inaugural Philly Tech Week. [See past BCNI write ups here.]

Overall I felt this BCNI, with some 150 attendees from startup shops and some serious brands, featured more sessions that embodied that unconference spirit in being less presentation and more dialogue, something I don’t think I felt in the past. I was also interested to see the true step forward past social media and other tools and into sustainability, which I find to be a far more important place to be.

To that end and coming off Philly Tech Week, without preparation, I proposed a session in the day’s final hour: “A conversation on news as a convener.”

Continue reading Do news orgs have a responsibility for action?: Notes from BarCamp NewsInnovation 2011

Final words on the reprisal of the young cop and the student journalist

It’s very easy to politicize what is around us. I fight that urge, too.

Whenever accusations about cops and misdeeds make their way into headlines, most of us either rush to defend them or revile them. Wherever we rush to usually has to do with what camp we most align: either (A) policing is damn hard work and those who do it don’t get enough credit or (B) police officers have enough potentially unchecked power to make us uncomfortable.

Of course, like with most things, the truth manages to be both.

More than a year ago, I wrote about then-Temple University student journalist Shannon McDonald and the contested reporting she did on Philadelphia Police Officer Bill Thrasher. Last month, something of a conclusion was finally met.

Continue reading Final words on the reprisal of the young cop and the student journalist

Twitter is stupid and other lessons in hyperlocal content strategy: NEast Philly at BarCamp NewsInnovation

The second annual BarCamp NewsInnovation was held last month at Temple University — see my notes here.

In addition to sharing all the failures we’ve had at Technically Philly, I spoke with founder and editor Shannon McDonald about the progress we’ve had with Northeast Philadelphia hyperlocal NEast Philly, including most prominently the breakdown of where our content was coming from.

See here the notes from our 2009 BarCamp presentation on being an online news startup in a print-heavy community.

Below find the notes and slides from this year’s BarCamp presentation entitled: Twitter is stupid…and other foundations of our content strategy.

Continue reading Twitter is stupid and other lessons in hyperlocal content strategy: NEast Philly at BarCamp NewsInnovation

Choose your business name on domain availability

When you’re launching a business or a brand, a check for domain availability has to be part of the brainstorming.

I worked with Shannon McDonald to launch a hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia. Initially in late 2008, she wanted the product to be the Web presence of a print product she wanted to call NEast Magazine.

It’s not where we ended up.

Continue reading Choose your business name on domain availability

Content breakdown of a healthy, efficient hyperlocal news site

thomas-edison-mixing-chemicals-in-his-lab-in-njIt’s about finding the right mix.

I’m working with a couple, following many and thinking about a great number more hyperlocal, niche and other online-only news sites in this country of ours.

I talk a lot about where content comes from in a healthy, efficient news-gathering entity today or in the near future.

Whether it proves untenable or inaccurate or not isn’t necessarily the point. I have some goals for the geographically-based hyperlocal I’m helping in building — NEast Philly — and I want to float them.

Below I share what that looks like in my head, what it looks like now under the tireless effort of its editor and team of contributors and how it’s looked in the past.

Continue reading Content breakdown of a healthy, efficient hyperlocal news site

How some established journalists see the rest of us

The 21st century graduates of The Temple News:
The 21st century graduates of The Temple News at the 88th anniversary alumni reception: (Back from left) Andrew Thompson, '09; Chris Reber, '08; ; Alex Irwin, '08; Brandon Lausch, '06; Lucas Murray, '05; Christopher Wink, '08; Mike Korostelev, '09 (Second from back row) Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, '07; Chris Stover, '09; Morgan Zalot, '11; Dave Isaac, '09; Anthony Stipa, '09; Kevin Brosky '10; Kriston Bethel, '10; Tracy Galloway, '10; Unclear (Third from back row) Brian White, '04; Holly Otterbein, '09; Leigh Zaleski, '08; LeAnne Matlach, '09; Jen Reardon, '10; Sherri Hospedales, '10; Stephen Zook, '10; Chelsea Calhoun, '10; Maria Zankey, '10; Brian Dzenis, '12; Shannon McDonald, '09; Sean Blanda, '08; Rachel Playe, '08; Brian James Kirk, '08 (Front Row) Brianna Barry, '08; Melissa Dipento, '08; Ashley Nguyen, '12; Malaika Carpenter, '08; Charmie Snetter, '07; Nadia Stadnycki,'06

You just aren’t doing everything you can.

It’s the seemingly unintentional, passive-aggressive jab that I sometimes get from older or otherwise more established journalists, writers and editors. Most often and in many ways, I’m sure the sentiment is pristine in its accuracy, often abutted by the never-to-be-defended-against “it takes time,” which, of course is always true.

But I can’t help but think what’s happened since, say, 2007 or even later, is something bigger that is changing the value of a lot of once rock solid professional advice for young and otherwise aspiring journalists, and making it awfully hard out there.

Continue reading How some established journalists see the rest of us

How I graduated and watched my peers have a real impact

The effects of Zunegate. Cartoon courtesy of PennyArcade.com. Link in-text.

Shannon McDonald unwittingly speared a wide, if brief, revisit to a conversation about race and prejudice in one of the largest police forces in the country. She is 21-years-old.

It was early December when Neal Santos, another friend of mine, was ensnared in his own media firestorm. Ever hear of Zunegate?

Santos, the assistant online editor of Philadelphia alternative-weekly CityPaper, spotted then-President-elect Barack Obama using a Zune mp3 player on a treadmill in a Philly gym. He reported it and chaos ensued.

Every tech site in the country wanted to beat that story. Folks at the Wall Street Journal, Wired, PCWorld and MacWorld were on it.  It got around on Podcasting News, iPhone Savior and was animated on Penny Arcade (as depicted above).

These are just two cases of a trend that excites me, scares me and motivates me. Young journalists, some with whom I’ve graduated, many with whom I’ve worked and all of whom I respect, are making an impact. Not always in the ways they want, but, Christ, it helps to understand that, wow, this is real now.

Continue reading How I graduated and watched my peers have a real impact