How I graduated and watched my peers have a real impact

The effects of Zunegate. Cartoon courtesy of Link in-text.

Shannon McDonald unwittingly speared a wide, if brief, revisit to a conversation about race and prejudice in one of the largest police forces in the country. She is 21-years-old.

It was early December when Neal Santos, another friend of mine, was ensnared in his own media firestorm. Ever hear of Zunegate?

Santos, the assistant online editor of Philadelphia alternative-weekly CityPaper, spotted then-President-elect Barack Obama using a Zune mp3 player on a treadmill in a Philly gym. He reported it and chaos ensued.

Every tech site in the country wanted to beat that story. Folks at the Wall Street Journal, Wired, PCWorld and MacWorld were on it.  It got around on Podcasting News, iPhone Savior and was animated on Penny Arcade (as depicted above).

These are just two cases of a trend that excites me, scares me and motivates me. Young journalists, some with whom I’ve graduated, many with whom I’ve worked and all of whom I respect, are making an impact. Not always in the ways they want, but, Christ, it helps to understand that, wow, this is real now.

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Journalism classes that aren't regularly available but should be

Students learn. Now lets teach them something they need.
Students learn. Now let's teach them something they need.

My friend Sean Blanda once regularly wrote on the failures of journalism schools. It’s not exactly my territory because I studied politics, not journalism in school.

But, I’ve heard enough from friends and colleagues. It seems most everything they learned, I learned while working at my college newspaper.

The journalism school at Temple University, like many other top j-schools, is chock full of talent. Temple is dripping with accomplished reporters, so I long decided j-school is for contacts, not knowledge.

That’s never more true than now, because, well, most all professors at j-schools are from an era that digitization is fast making irrelevant (There are many exceptions, two at Temple being here and here). The rules are broken and more than ever, journalism schools are repugnantly, distastefully, woefully far from leading students to careers, aside from the Temple name and, yes, the contacts they make.

I’m nearly a year out and embroiled in a freelance career, so I thought up a few classes I’d like to see j-schools teach.

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Care about the future of news? then go to the national BarCamp NewsInnovation conference

Register to attend!

In launching, co-founders Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I lamented that despite encompassing the fourth largest media market in the country, being its most historic and one of its more culturally impactful cities, Philadelphia wasn’t often the home of important tech conferences or part of broader discussions.

Despite also being home to major universities and sitting in the middle of a confluence of other important urban centers like D.C., Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh and Boston.

So, when Jason Kristufek led the push to hold several regional and then a national BarCamp for NewsInnovation, I was thrilled that Blanda took control of the situation like the great leader he is, and brought the national version to Philly, specifically Temple University.

If you’re a tech-head or a news hound or anyone who cares about the future of news gathering and dissemination, the Fourth Estate or the protection and defense of democracy, I certainly hope you will sign up to attend even some of the FREE national BarCamp NewsInnovation to held be held all day this Saturday, April 25.

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Introducing Technically Philly: covering the Philadelphia technology community

Philadelphia’s technology scene is, well, growing, expanding, maturing, developing, whatever.

There are a host of worlds and working parts to it, different scenes, from Center City, to Old City, to South Philly, to the northwest and West Philly, up to the ‘burbs and, well, in some way, everywhere in between.

The problem is that there is no one home, no one portal, vessel for all of those cultures and news and events and updates.

I think I’ve found it.

With Web designer Sean Blanda and graphic designer Brian James Kirk, I am proud to introduce Technically Philly: covering the community of people using technology in Philadelphia.

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WDSTL: My first podcast


My good friend Sean Blanda and I put together a weekly podcast on our travel blog during our European backpacking trip. We returned earlier this month but only now got the last of our posts up and put some finishing touches on the site, where we broadcast our weekly Sunday night episodes.

See our last episode below or all the episodes here.

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We Don't Speak the Language: European Exploration

Currently I am abroad, video podcasting at A video podcast and blog about traveling the world for the young and broke. Follow me there, but also continue to enjoy regular posts here at about the plight of a young, aspiring journalist, which will appear below this reminder.

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To Europe: I am gone for at least a month

Today, my good friend Sean Blanda and I are departing for London. I mentioned this trip last month.

He and I are beginning an open-ended European backpacking adventure. We have no return ticket, no definite plans or destinations: just a month long, 10-stop itinerary on the way to Hungary and vague plans of reassesing our funds to get down to Greece and circling all the way back to Spain.

We’ll be blogging and video podcasting the trip together, but more on that next week when the official rollout comes.

Stay posted for that, but don’t worry, will remain fresh and posted – I know you’re concerned.

God bless America and wish us luck. Lots of exciting news to come next week.

My Temple University commencement speech

Four months ago I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia.

I was honored enough to be named student commencement speaker. Read text of the speech here.

Only now have I gotten video of my speech online. Have a watch below.

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Rewriting presidential history


With a great deal of help from Sean Blanda, the Internet Jesus himself at The Temple News, I recently unveiled a multimedia package on former Temple University President Peter Liacouras. He held the top spot for 18 years, from 1982 to 2000, and a great deal of expansion, both academic and geographic, happened under his tenure.

I first met with him, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and Temple’s longtime community relations director, back in October. Then I met with them again on March 18. In all, I spent more than five hours with the group, and another 90 minutes with the community relations director. It was the most work I ever put in for a story.

Check out the multimedia package here, read the profile I wrote on him, watch him talk about choosing Temple’s logo 25 years ago below, and let me know of any of your thoughts on the man, his administration or anything else. I also wrote a piece about his relationship with the community, that included a great deal on the two other men with whom I met for the story.