CJR: How Vice President Rendell makes me want to be a journalist

The Columbia Journalism Review finally came to its senses and realized it can’t survive without my work. …Sorta.

On Wednesday, a personal essay of mine was featured on the CJR Web site.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell will be named Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate, a high-ranking source in the administration told the Patriot-News.

That was my lede after being tricked into believing Rendell was Obama’s No. 2 man by a famed newsroom of top-flight state government correspondents in the Harrisburg state capital.

This isn’t the story of the Pennsylvania governor being named Obama’s running mate. This is the story of how the economy is in free fall, newspapers are on life-support, and yet they still can’t get rid of me.  Read the rest here.

Go read the story and comment there! Spread the word and show interest in the story.

Below see some portions of the story I cut.

Continue reading CJR: How Vice President Rendell makes me want to be a journalist

CampusProgress.org: the Obama inauguration's young audience

Military personnel act as stand-ins for President-elect Barack Obama and family on the West Front of the Capitol during a rehearsal for the Inauguration Ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Military personnel act as stand-ins for President-elect Barack Obama and family on the West Front of the Capitol during a rehearsal for the Inauguration Ceremony in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

A story I wrote on the young audience expected at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration was featured on CampusProgress.org yesterday.

At least one student doesn’t have very far to go to see a seminal moment in American history. To see Barack Obama inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States of America next week, Jonathan Cohn, a Georgetown University junior, can walk. Cohn lives in Washington, D.C., and will be among the millions who are expected to crowd the nation’s capital for Obama’s historic oath. Cohn will be part of what may be the largest contingent of college students at a presidential inauguration in the event’s 220-year history. Read the rest here.

See some extras that didn’t make it into the story below.

Continue reading CampusProgress.org: the Obama inauguration's young audience

SHRM: Smart Wireless Connectivity Key to Data Protection

My first story for the Society of Human Resource Management magazine appeared online yesterday. It focuses on the dangers that face mobile employees who use unsecured wireless networks and what human resource professionals need to know about the trends.

You can’t read it because it’s by subscription. Instead, I’ll give you my lede and what I cut from my first clip in a trade publication.

Continue reading SHRM: Smart Wireless Connectivity Key to Data Protection

Newest BNET Energy-industry blogger, me

Talk to me in a few weeks. I ought to be some sort of expert on the global energy industry.

Largely on the back of my internship with the Philadelphia Business Journal and my blogging experience in a variety of venues, I am proud to say that I’ve gotten a gig blogging on the energy industry for BNET Industries, an industry-news provider and subsidiary of CBS Interactive.

That means I have a steady alternative revenue stream – for the time being. It isn’t full-time, so no health insurance, but for a freelance journalist, it’s a golden gig to get some steady money (more tips like that in a future post).

Continue reading Newest BNET Energy-industry blogger, me

Freelance: Retired poet-priest in Irish Echo

My story on Philadelphia priest John McNamee in the Irish Echo on Oct. 8, 2008.
My story on Philadelphia priest John McNamee in the Irish Echo on Oct. 8, 2008.

This story appeared in the Oct. 8, 2008 edition of the Irish Echo, the country’s oldest Irish American newspaper.

PHILADELPHIA – One of the most celebrated Irish Catholic priests in the country has returned home.

After nearly 30 years serving his native Philadelphia archdiocese, author and poet John McNamee retired in June and retreated for six weeks to a friend’s house in Ireland. He returned home last week [Aug 30] and now is ready to decide what will be the next stage of his storied life. What that will entail even he doesn’t yet know.

“I am not going to put an agenda on myself,” McNamee, 75, said. After a lifetime wearing a priest’s collar, he walks a decidedly more secular path than the religious one he has come to know.

“I am anxious to breach those two worlds as best as I can,” he told the Irish Echo in a phone interview.

If the success of his writing career is any indication, he will.

Philadelphia Weekly: Electronic monitors for sex offenders

In yesterday’s Philadelphia Weekly:

illustration by alex lukas

Pennsylvania’s Jack Wagner wants registered sex offenders to wear GPS monitors. In recent weeks, a handful of lawmakers have announced plans to introduce legislation at Wagner’s behest.

“For all the right reasons, the Pennsylvania state government should be utilizing this technology to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” Wagner says.

His late July announcement came not long after his office reported that of the state’s 9,800 registered sex offenders, the Commonwealth had lost track of 923—nearly 10 percent. More than one-third of them had last-known addresses in southeastern Pennsylvania, including 261 in Philadelphia.

Calling those numbers “very disturbing” and “unacceptable,” Wagner, who’s seeking reelection in November, recommended the use of ankle-worn devices with a global positioning system—technology currently in use by 33 states… More.

In yesterday’s Philadelphia Weekly.

Philadelphia Weekly: Father Figure

Pick up a copy of today’s Philadelphia Weekly. My first freelanced article makes an appearance.

There are saints and prophets on all corners of Philadelphia, but on the 1400 block of North 11th Street few are Catholic and even fewer are Irish. So 50-year-old Father Kevin Lawrence, with a hardy laugh and soft, precise speech, might seem out of place—if he weren’t taking over for another Irish Catholic.

In fact, the future of one of the most dynamic and independent parishes in the Philadelphia Archdiocese rests in Lawrence’s hands. Yet the only thing anyone seems concerned about is that Lawrence doesn’t write poetry. That’s because Lawrence is replacing St. Malachy’s Father John McNamee, a North Philadelphia icon.

Read the rest on Philadelphia Weekly.com.

See two other photos of the pair after the jump.

Continue reading Philadelphia Weekly: Father Figure

Bill’s Graduation Lessons (Newsweek submission: 6/9/08)

By Christopher Wink | June 9, 2008 | Newsweek submission

Bill Cosby told me I shouldn’t worry. No one was going to remember anything I said anyway.

In May, I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia and was honored to address my peers and their families as our student commencement speaker. For my portion, I urged Temple graduates of 2008, in addition to those of the past and those yet to come, to stand by our obligation to leveraging our intellectual capital in the communities that surround the university’s Main Campus in central North Philadelphia.

Temple’s gift is that it is surrounded by neighborhoods that aren’t as near to any other university as large and as influential. I hope my fellow graduates and I remember and forever appreciate that, I said.

Cosby – the seminal 20th-century entertainment icon turned controversial race commentator – addressed my fellow graduates after I did.

“I told Wink,” Cosby said to nearly 10,000 new-alumni and family members. “Wink, don’t give that speech. Nobody’s going to remember a thing you said, Wink.”

He told me something similar before we went on.

“Nobody will even be listening,” he assured me.

Of course, despite what I might want to think, the Cos knew what he was saying.

Each May universities parade big name celebrities, politicians and intellectuals through their graduations to get attention, to display prestige and, perhaps, to make a meaningful experience a memorable day. But we mostly forget who spoke at graduations of the past. These speeches have become routine and predictable. I am not foolish enough to think my seven minutes were anything anyone will remember for very long, if anyone was listening at all. Graduations are full of children and grandparents, lots of people who are there for one face of thousands, not the speeches, not the pomp, not the circumstance. The words of this 22-year-old have likely already been completely forgotten by most.

Cosby’s address though was something different for my graduating class.

Bill Cosby was raised in Philadelphia and went to Temple. He is among our best known alumni and a member of our Board of Trustees. What’s more, rather than trot our celebrities or politicians, Cosby was the lone speaker at Temple’s commencements throughout the 1990s through 2003.

But he hadn’t spoken at a university-wide event since August 2004, when he welcomed the Class of 2008 – my class – by promising to be at our graduation four years later if we were there. In the last weeks of my college career, The Temple News, the university’s student newspaper, wrote editorials calling on Cosby to be true to his word. But his publicist didn’t call back, and Temple’s administration had “no official stance.”

Some said the relationship started to fracture after January 2004 allegations that he sexually assaulted a former Temple employee. Some said Cosby’s book tour that featured him critiquing elements of black America didn’t help.

But he showed up, and then he walked into the Liacouras Center – with me at his side – and it sounded like a rock concert – not too bad for a 70-year-old (July 12, 1937). Young faces of every color and background – the hallmark of the self-labeled ‘diversity university’ – dressed in black gowns, draped over each other to stick out digital cameras and cell phones. Bill Cosby and I, preceded and followed by university dignitaries, split the graduates down the middle of our college’s basketball court, thousands of mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and sisters and brothers and cousins and friends applauding from their feet.

Temple’s graduations are not known to be reserved affairs.

“They weren’t cheering for you,” he would later tell me.

Of those pictures that so many screaming Temple graduates accidentally took of me when Cosby strode too quickly, the comedian had a similarly cutting remark that still makes me laugh.

“They’ll crop you out by tomorrow,” he promised me.

After I spoke, University President Ann Weaver Hart introduced Dr. William H. Cosby. The crowd again rang out, like we were at one of his comedy shows, not our own graduation.

“Thank God nobody has yet asked you to follow your dream,” Cosby said. “Because you never really slept that well so that you could dream.”

And we laughed.

“You have no clear idea what is forward,” he said of our futures. He gestured up to the families crowded on the second level of our basketball arena. “Only the people sitting up here have any idea where you should go and what you should be.”

And we cheered.

Temple is a big-name, professional research institution like many others in this country. In many ways, the college experience has merged into a single story. Leave home. Drink beer. Study. Frisbee. Study. Throw your cap in the air to the tune of the same speech. One from the biggest name a university can bring in, or the most sentimental story that can be told or the advice from some 22-year-old who is too young to know much of anything.

No one from Temple’s Class of 2008 will remember my speech, but I suspect they will remember Bill Cosby. I know I will.

As submitted to Newsweek magazine’s ‘My Turn’ column in June 2008.

A Generation of Change (New York Times Magazine: 8/3/07)


By Christopher Wink | Aug 3, 2007 | New York Times Magazine submission

There has been a great loss in the level of activism among college students since the turbulent 1960s. Complacency reigns over the people. Today’s twenty-something, anarchist-punk, bicycle-messenger population is dwindling. Those that have survived are crestfallen.

The man with the thin gray goatee – and a framed photograph of himself looking hairier and suspiciously uninhibited in 1972 – laments, if only half seriously, that the ire of this young generation cannot seem to be adequately risen.

It was different when he was young, he’ll tell you.

Continue reading A Generation of Change (New York Times Magazine: 8/3/07)