In short, NewsWorks, which had its official launch last Monday, Nov. 15, is WHYY’s new online news brand, serving as home to its existing journalism, in addition to (A) new columns, (B) calls for community contributions and (C) a trial hyperlocal push in northwest Philadelphia.
It’s a big bold swing and at least four years in the making.
Indeed, where Newsworks is a year or two from now will mean a great deal to the entire news ecosystem of Philadelphia, at least. Some of those people who come to mind:
I felt the Inquirer’s Dan Rubin was the nearest in a legacy of citywide voice boxes, telling the broadest and widest ranging stories. Perhaps that’s true.
But it’s been nagging me that outside of some media-focused friends — and even then — I never hear Rubin or his other traditional columnist colleagues with any sort of regularity.
Instead, the columnists whose names I read, hear mentioned and myself reference the most are increasingly niche orientated. They’re not writing about the city, they’re writing about and for a very narrowly focused part of it. These are other critics and writers who have long existed in newspaper parlance, but I believe the increasingly niche-dominated media ecosystem means their voices carry greater power than before.
The report, which was released Wednesday, comes from the J-Lab journalism institute at American University and its Executive Director, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Philadelphia Inquirer business editor Jan Schaffer.
The final report, which can be read in its entirety here, tacitly outlines the steps to develop roughly two things: (1) a central website of public affairs coverage and (2) a journalism collaboration by way of staff, funding and shared administrative and business services — which I like to think was at least partially influenced by our pushing on with News Inkubator.
Updated: The William Penn Foundation will not “necessarily” implement what was found in the report, communications director Brent Thompson told me.
More broadly, as Schaffer wrote in an e-mail to those she interviewed in her months-long research: “After a deep analysis of the media landscape, J-Lab has recommended that Philadelphia is ripe for a unique Networked Journalism collaborative, partnering new media makers with original reporting on public affairs.”
It’s a quick and more detailed move less than half a year a large stakeholders meeting that was less than decisive.
Updated 4/13/10 @ 8:50 a.m.: Regionally-specific hyperlocal is just part of the broader system
WHYY, the public media station for the Delaware Valley region, is hoping a $1.2 million hyperlocal news initiative for the northwest region of Philadelphia will be the first successful bold Web-first journalism effort from a legacy media player.
Updated: That northwest hyperlocal is just one very large, very expensive trial vertical within a larger rollout.
But will “NewsWorks” go the way of a handful of its predecessors?
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.
In a city eager for celebrities, I’ve never quite understood why we haven’t embraced Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Most of Joe Frazier’s life, which has seen him rise to international, cultural icon and then fade into the shadows, has been spent calling Philadelphia home.
The 65-year-old former heavyweight champion of the world beat Muhammad Ali once, but officially lost to him twice, including in the famed 1975 Thrilla in Manila, which is featured in a new eponymous HBO documentary. [Source]