Philadelphia’s ‘blogger tax’ controversy speaks to state of blogging, future of media

I am not going to write about the brief media blitz that surrounded the controversy of the City of Philadelphia enforcing its business privilege license requirement for bloggers.

My good friend and Technically Philly co-founder Sean Blanda already handled well my perspective.

(Quickly, Philadelphia, like many municipal governments, requires a license to do business in its environs. An unnamed amount of bloggers who declared on federal tax documents some form of revenue from their publications were compelled to pay for a $50 yearly or $300 lifetime license, the latter of which both Technically Philly and NEast Philly acquired as we brought on revenue. Philadelphia CityPaper reported that the city had begun reaching directly out to bloggers demanding they pay up, a reality first noted on web forum Philly Speaks and, admittedly, ignored by us at TP, and the whole concept exploded. Soon, far flung media outlets were implying that the city’s license — which is required of anyone doing any kind of business in the 135 square miles of Philadelphia — was for bloggers only. It isn’t. And anyone solicited by the city had advertising or had otherwise declared related income federally. So, considering much of the revenue was limited to tens of dollars, it may have been a foolish chase, but certainly not illegal or unfair.)

Instead, I wanted to share two thoughts on the future of blogging that came out of this controversy.

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Back on My Feet blog introduction

Today, I’d like to announce the official content platform for homeless running nonprofit Back on My Feet.

I announced in February my taking a job with the Center City-based organization that uses running clubs to create support around homeless populations seeking to move forward. From my first interview, I highlighted the need to use a blog to share the heavy dosage of content, member stories and updates that come from the nonprofit’s now-four chapters and growing.

I’m very interested in tracking all the web metrics I can, from traffic to social media trends, for Back on My Feet. Launching this blog — a project I initiated and have led — came without question and has been a great source of pride thus far.

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Distribution or content: which is king?

bk_crowncardTheKing_en_01Is distribution king, not content?

That’s the question posed here by Alana G.

Consider a simplified 2×2 matrix: content is either good or bad and distribution is either good or bad. Bad content with bad distribution is going nowhere. Good content with good distribution is in the best position to succeed. But there’s a lot of sports content that lives in the other two quadrants. There are distribution resources being wasted on bad content, and there are plenty of small bloggers making good content with bad distribution. This last category of unseen content may be even better quality than some of the content with good distribution, but this content will not float to the top on its own. [Source]

I like this 2X2 model of bad/good content and bad/good distribution.

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What is a blog and why do so many people hate them?


If you check out Technically Philly and you follow every minute change, you may have noticed that the tagline that we boast at the site’s top has changed slightly.

Last week it still read: “Technically Philly is a blog covering the community of people who use technology in Philadelphia.” Now it says, “Technically Philly is a site that covers the community of people who use technology in Philadelphia.”

It may be a small change, but we realized we were lying.

Twelve years ago December in Ohio, they say, Jorn Barger took to calling his Robot Wisdom site a “web log,”  as his collection of links were, he said, literally logging the Web.

The type of Web site quickly took to house a variety of online diaries, often collecting news and commentary, too, but always flowing in some form of sequential order.

In 2004, with five million worldwide, the blog format was said to have hit the critical mass of being mainstream, bringing with it a new crew of news analysis and commentary, then largely from an outsider’s perspective.

Something happened then. While some even well-known blogs — like Deadspin, as Buzz Bissinger, Bob Costas and then-Editor Will Leitch made famous — maintained that the outsider’s perspective was crucial to the blog form, the world went silly with blogs.

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Despite declining traffic, @ArthurKade is a story, what that means for media

If you leave your car door unlocked, with the keys in the ignition, and your car is stolen, I don’t believe the crime is any less heinous.

Stealing is wrong, no matter the level of difficulty.

I read that somewhere recently and it resonated with me, reminding me of a Philadelphia story that speaks to the importance of old media, the power of social media and the future of them both.

Former Center City financial planner and current aspiring actor Arthur Kade has become a story. Since February, he has been chronicling the throes of his plight charging toward the spotlight through long, personally-involved and mildly misogynistic missives on his blog and in YouTube vidoes of increasingly cartoonish self-admiration.

He’ll lead posts with things like “My game with girls is so sick, but even I couldn’t get through the situation that I had to deal with last night…” and is getting attention for his Kade Scale for rating women.


Whether Joey Sweeney likes it or not, the brains behind Philadelphia culture blog Philebrity first gave the world Kade and has continued covering Kade. That led to Kade, who grew up in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia, taking the virtual tour of the Jersey Turnpike when New York’s Gawker took notice. As you might have guessed, a flood of other blogs then followed, yes including popular Hot Chicks with Douche Bags, though the site doesn’t have permalinks. He spent 45 minutes on the Danny Bonaduce nationally syndicated radio show.

What thrust him from Web 2.0 quasi fame to a degree of Philly regional mainstream attention was the profile of him and his plight in this month’s Philadelphia magazine — broken by freelance writer Brian Hickey, who himself had quite a tale in the mag.

Last week, he was an attention grabber for an otherwise anonymous fashion show in a city not known for its fashion shows, and then he was the focus of a rather aggressively named Q&A with the popular city blog Phawker. The final regional touch came with an appearance on a smaller TV news outlet — though it, too, proved critical.

But, what, pray, does this all mean?

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What links should mean to news media in the future

Most media folks know that casual readers and viewers don’t really care if one news organization beats another by a few minutes on a story.

That’s about the pride of those involved.

If you were beaten, you either searched for a new angle or rehashed what was done, trying to add value in some way.

I figure that will long continue into the future, but I think something should change, an admission of sorts.

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Why not every blog is written by a blogger

bald_bloggerI’ve come to believe there’s a very real difference between a blogger and a blog.

The person updating a blog isn’t necessarily a blogger. Though I blog on and maintain this professional site and have certainly blogged elsewhere, I don’t consider myself a blogger.

For one, I’m a professional writer, so I’d need to be making money at the blogging game for me to get that title. Instead, I use the format to connect with readers and colleagues, discuss issues and share the content I create for newspapers, magazines and trade publications.

It’s a tool of social media, not a livelihood.

Of course, there are certainly bloggers who don’t do so as a living, so I thought it prudent to throw down some guidelines as to who I figure a blogger is and what I suppose makes a blog.

See my list, and let me know whatcha think, after the jump.

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April uwishunu posts: Hysteria, author appearances and BarCamp

It’s Memorial Day, so no one’s reading this anyway, right?

In February I announced that I was blogging for, a popular, award-winning arts and entertainment blog for Philadelphia. Some months I write more for them than others, not all run as expected and some are of only middling interest to casual readers, so I’ve decided I’d like to do a monthly digest of my work there — if only just for record-keeping.

I’ll post them as I file them, not as they run. See all of my posts here, and my profile here.

Below — later than I’ll do this in the future — see my April posts.

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Bloggers need to respect old media

Updated 3:17 p.m. April 23, 2009

I was in Baltimore this weekend, which is fitting, considering some of the news that came out of the Charm City last week.

From Wired magazine blog Epicenter:

The Tribune-owned Baltimore Sun issued Jeff Quiton of Inside Charm City a cease-and-desist letter claiming that Quinton has been republishing “substantial portions” of The Sun’s content, and because the infringement was willful, Quinton could face up to $150,000 per violation in addition to lawyers fees.

The Sun took issue with Quiton copying large portions of their stories, though the suit added they don’t have a problem with a headline and a graf being used by bloggers if links are included.

It’s another case of old media taking on new media. And I am completely on the side of old media on this one.

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What is your blog's focus?

You should be blogging, even if casually and infrequently and briefly.

I’ve already said that journalists of all stripes, anyone interested in media, research or anything in which your writing, your name and your credibility is best served defended and re-defended somewhere it can be found.

One of the best reasons to traipse into this fad — and, of course, blogging is fad for now, fashion, perhaps, later, because we won’t know of its longevity for some time — is because there is no better way to develop a voice and a focus. These are, they tell me and tell me and tell me again, central qualities to all writers of note and consequence, indeed, even writers and speakers and thinkers of even relative success.

And it’s harder than you might think.

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