In defense of perceived negativism in good community reporting

In our first few years of publishing Technically Philly, we’ve heard two pretty common criticisms. Some outside our community might say we’re too close and therefore too kind to those we report on. Some insider our community say we’re too critical.

Funny how that works out. It’s  no doubt familiar to any beat reporter: you’re quite close and you’re calling balls and strikes and so you’ll never keep everyone happy. Still I was interested in a thread posted back in September by an entrepreneur we report on frequently about a solid piece of community reporting we recently published.

The story was tied to the anniversary of a startup accelerator and featured an analysis of the past performance of the startups the accelerator had hosted. We found two-thirds of those they had hosted had left Philadelphia.

On that thread, a reader wrote: “Tech Philly loves the “people leave Philly” story – they run it any time they can. I wish they’d run the converse – 56 companies appeared in Philly last month!”

I’ve turned this over in my head the last few weeks. Most of our reporting, and even our very existence, is predicated on the assumption that startup and tech worker growth in Philadelphia matters. We’re following this community and how it goes and grows. We aren’t meant nor do we intend to be a promotional arm. Instead, we think what we’re following is important, we want to follow it.

There is a data-backed churn of tech startups from Philadelphia. Understanding that can inform what this community does about it.

This isn’t a new challenge for journalists. Still it’s something  we’ll have to confront.

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