What does work productivity look like during a pandemic?

For a story she wrote for Technical.ly (which you should read), my colleague Paige Gross asked me what I thought of work productivity during this disruption. I gave her a long answer, which she helpfully trimmed for her piece.

If interested, below I shared my stream of consciousness response to her at midnight 🙂

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Journalists as a ‘community directory of last resort’

Journalists fill such a unique role in communities. As a mirror, we show the best and the worst. We also often serve as a kind of directory of last resort.

I want to tell you something incredible, yet familiar, that happened recently.

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My 2019 Review

I roared into this year with a plan.

After a 2018 of mixed results, I intended 2019 to be different. In many ways it was. My company had a big Q1. I got personal time back. By the end of summer, though, a key hire that was a major part of my work strategy had their own major life change. My plans had to change. Work taxed me more than expected, and that had ripple effects in personal ways too.

Knowing what I was working toward, I was exhilarated for most of 2019. Yet I still ended the year tired and distracted by reestablishing plans I thought I already had set. This year I was reminded that leadership may start with setting a plan but it’s tested by reacting to inevitable changes to that plan. I did that. I’m at least a year wiser.

Below find both a recap of important milestones in my year, and, farther down, find a review of how I did on my 2019 Resolutions.

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Why we launched ADVANCE, a conference on smarter impact for nonprofit professionals

In 2015, my company began publishing a second brand: Generocity.org, which aimed to offer beat reporting on nonprofit and mission work in local communities, starting in Philadelphia.

We’ve learned plenty. Last week we hosted ADVANCE, a pilot one-day conference for Generocity’s audience of nonprofit professionals. The aim was to feature case studies and concepts that would help the 100 attendees advance their mission careers. Our keynote was Kickstarter cofounder and former CEO Yancey Strickler, who has a new book on a more just economy.

I helped introduce the day by setting up what our reporting has taught us about our audience, and this growing community of future-thinking impact leaders. Though a modest start, I think it’s important we piloted this conference.

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‘Journalism Thinking’ doesn’t need a business model. It needs a call to arms

I originally posted this on Medium here. It received considerable endorsement, including here, here and here.

Early professional news networks in the 14th and 15th centuries were couriers on horseback, informing warlords and merchants. Even competitors saw the value in shared professional news gathering, when there wasn’t a state-owned alternative. Subscriptions, then, subsidized the first foreign affairs and business reporters.

Over the next 500 years, innovations in distribution and in printing and paper technology shaped professional news-gathering into the 20th century model we most recognize today: advertising revenue subsidized relatively low unit costs to ensure widely available mass media (albeit almost exclusively from a white male perspective, but that needs its own post entirely).

Today we’re well into the first generation of the digital transformation of news-gathering and distribution. Yet we as journalism practitioners are still managing to underestimate how dramatically things have changed.

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3 simple ideas for thriving in an open office

You can find a lot of solid advice for surviving the open office.

The historical arc of offices is richly told. Despite the criticism they get, I’m fond of them, over many offices or more established cubicles. Someone recently asked me for advice, and I found I had three quick answers that I stand by.

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I changed a lot at my company. Here’s why beating a big Q1 revenue goal meant so much

A version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter a couple weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.

Nobody wants to follow someone who made General in peacetime.

I’ve been thinking about that concept a lot lately (Ben Horowitz calls its Peace/War Time CEO). In 2017, after eight years of informally leading the tiny community journalism organization I cofounded, I named myself CEO. Up until that point, my cofounder Brian and I had survived together. We’d always find a way to last a bit longer, growing slowly and thoughtfully as we navigated treacherous waters.

That survival approach was rational for growing a local news company in the early 21st century,  a time in which consumers maintain very high expectations for free and independent journalism but have not yet been fully trained to actually pay or otherwise support its work in a post-advertising world.

But in early 2018, as I was finally feeling the great responsibility of the CEO title, I took stock of where my company was.

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A look at the $23 billion Search and Placement industry

The Human Capital Management industry is a big one. Many segment it into Search and Placement, still a $23 billion annual gargantuan that encompasses how companies hire the right people.

In the last several years, we at Technical.ly have continued to focus on how our newsroom can compete in this cluttered industry by leveraging the trust we have and aim to develop with hard to reach jobseekers in the communities we serve. We’re producing more content on the topic, and I’ve begun to do more speaking on the topic.

I’ve also been doing lots of reading and gathering of worldview, particularly in the last year. In cleaning out a notebook, I found a slew of trends and numbers I was poking around, so I decided to share them here.

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9 examples of substance from nine years of Technically Media

My thoughtful coworkers brought in to the office a young Ben Franklin impersonator to discuss entrepreneurship and civic good in publishing last month. It was perhaps the most fun celebration of the ninth anniversary of starting what became Technically Media I could ask for.

(For some reason, someone shouted out that we should only have serious faces in the above photo. Believe me, we were having lots of fun.)

Afterward, I did a little Twitter rant I thought I’d save here for posterity.

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Here are a few things I told a Young Professionals Council

Last month, I was the featured speaker in a regular CEO series hosted by the Young Professionals Council of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.

More than 40 people kindly came out to hear me be interviewed. We talked about Technically Media, tech and impact trends and journalism. (Yes, there was an Amazon HQ2 question: I said I was betting on the D.C. market but thought Philadelphia had a strong enough offering that I refuse to be surprised if chosen).

Below I share a few other thoughts I shared, mostly prompted by audience Q&A.

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