Forty leaders in Philadelphia media were on hand last week for the unveiling of a structure to develop more public affairs journalism in the region, as proposed by a university research center on behalf of the William Penn Foundation.
From 8:30 a.m. to after 2 p.m. on Jan. 7 inside the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission conference room of the American College of Physicians Building in Old City, a series of discussions focused on bolstering the next generation of news gathering in Philadelphia around community-building and replacing competition with collaboration.
Explicit details were left slim to encourage a dialogue, but loosely defined, Jan Schaffer, the executive director of American University-housed J-Lab, recommended an aggregated content hub that could be supplemented by a limited editorial team. The funded sustainability of that recommendation was not detailed, but rather suggested to be put off for three years until an appropriate level of support was developed, she said. Hers were only recommendations for the Penn Foundation. No action was announced, nor taken.
Rather, Schaffer, a former Philadelphia Inquirer business editor and Pulitzer Prize winner, led a fact-finding research project for the better part of 2009 on behalf of the Penn Foundation, which included more than 60 interviews and ran from July to October. The day was her chance to gauge response. She has not yet submitted a formal proposal but, she said, expects to do so this quarter. Last week’s open unveiling and ensuing feedback would inform her final suggestions, she said.
The ramifications of what Schaffer proposes could have a historic impact. That is, if anything happens at all.
Held two weeks ago today, the invite-only affair was blasted the world over by way of social media, notably a wildly active Twitter hashtag, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth sharing my experience at the Nov. 11 event.
Community newspapers in Philadelphia remain wary of the Web, if any stock is to be paid to a morning panel from a journalism innovation conference held this month at Temple University.
Their thoughts just might be relevant to community-focused news gathers across the country.
Hosted by Temple’s journalism department, the Philadelphia Initiative for Journalistic Innovation was a day’s worth of smaller sessions focusing far less about the plight of big newspapers and more about smaller, more entrepreneurial ventures. Yes, the future of news just might be a series of conferences about the future of news, but I was happy to see a greater focus on the business side of the industry.
With the help of supportive chair Andy Mendelson, Temple journalism professor George Miller put together one of the first future of news conferences I’ve seen that tried to really pay attention to sustainability through profit. There’s incredible value in that, so I was thrilled to be a part of it.
Along with my two fellow co-founders of Technically Philly, I presented twice a session called ‘Be a Publisher Now’ on free tools that news-organizations and bloggers could make use of to create become more efficient and better prepared. See our presentation slides here.
I also got the opportunity to sit in on a session focused how community newspapers were dealing with the 21st-century’s dramatic paradigm shift in news-gathering. That’s where I was left more than a little puzzled.
A heavy reliance on foundation funding, a step into telecom, donation and membership programs and other methods that have been argued and re-argued all made brief appearances in last night’s 90-minute event held in a small civic space at the headquarters of WHYY.
Though the sentiment wasn’t hearkened on enough for perhaps the taste of those more obsessively engaged in the conversation, the wider perspective was brought to light.
“It’s really what all of us are doing,” said Sandra Shea, the editorial page editor of the Philadelphia Daily News.
The porn was written by two Philadelphia marketing executives who also lead POPPORN.com, which describes itself as “an adult entertainment blog. We are not a news site as we typically get the news and the details about the news factually wrong on purpose to amuse ourselves. With that being said, do you have some news?”