Thursday, December 30, 2010


This blog has moved. Future posts will be at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Journal Register Co. IdeaLab TweetChat

Trying something new: This "chat" will feature only a live feed of a TweetChat amongst the Journal Register Co. IdeaLab members, other JRC employees, journalists, and so ons.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charlie Manuel on gratitude to veterans

The Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been the source for half a dozen fun stories for me these past few months - and I'm often the only journalist to show up for them.
Although they have a crack PR person, Kathleen Pomorski, and a heck of a resume with some nationally ranked programs, the TV stations and other news orgs from the area rarely do more than a quick spotlight on the events I cover. 
Tuesday, however, showed the coned-off spots Kathleen so thoughtfully reserves almost all taken, because of news totally unrelated to the VA - but serendipitously linked with its holiday event. 
Monday night, Facebook and Twitter erupted with the news that Cy Young award-winning pitcher Cliff Lee had signed to return to the Phillies, creating what many are calling the strongest pitching lineup in baseball. This made a Tuesday morning visit by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, former player Marty Bystrom, and the Phillies Phanatic and Phillies Ballgirls big news.
The news stations were full of reporters grabbing Charlie to ask about the Phils and his feelings on their coup over the Yankees.
He told me, "I'm not supposed to talk about it" when I dutifully asked about Lee. But despite a downright boyish grin about the pitcher, he was really there for the veterans - and seemed happy to be asked about the real reason for his visit, for a change.
The veterans he visited were mostly from World War II and the Korean War, and Charlie told me in the elevator that he'd had many relatives and friends in those conflicts.

His thoughts on honoring veterans, below:

The Daily Local news story I wrote on the event can be found here, with another video of additional fan reactions to the news of Lee's signing.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

David Yezzi at Victory Collaborative

First video of what will ultimately be several from last weekend's Victory Collaborative (to be followed by blogging about learning to edit video solely on the iPad). Enjoy!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Victory Collaborative

To depart a bit from the strict topic of journalism...please join me for (or check out a replay of) some live blogging from a story I wrote about this week: Beer and poetry at Victory Brewing Co.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The roles of the social consumer = ...middle school?


This made me think of just one thing...middle school. 

Hey, psychoanalyze me all you want; it's probably justified. And maybe it's just that "peer" is right at the top. But the shifting power dynamics of consumerism as refracted by social media are a lot like power relationships in middle school, where a new pair of sunglasses can make you the "It" kid for a day and a zit on your chin can harm your brand for a week.

Middle school is all about self-branding in a constantly shifting environment; you can't necessarily predict the impact those careful decisions will have. (Those sunglasses will only take you so far if somebody's got the newest iPod.) 

But I don't necessarily see this correlation as a bad thing. On the contrary, while the world becomes more navigable and somewhat more humane after the brutality of brand-as-identity, I don't think we ever really drop those power dynamics of relating to one another. And that means this graphic (and further discussion - follow link) is simply a more accurate and accessible depiction of what's been happening all along.

An app I downloaded tonight, "World Customs and Cultures," informs me: "Russians tend to be somewhat guarded and closed until a relationship is formed... In some instances you may find that Russians will dance around a subject, especially if it's a difficult or uncomfortable topic. In other instances they can be quite direct." 

But isn't that more or less how we all are with any kind of capital - money, time, trust, loyalty?

Implications: I think those people who naturally have a facility for understanding how members of a community relate to one another have always had the edge in marketing. And to be honest, I think the transparency of this time period, as so many of us attempt to literally graph the patterns of desire and influence, can be a wealth of ethical, as well as business and marketing, resources. 

Do you think "humanizing" brands and tracking social interacts to sell is exploitative, no matter what? Or do you think it's more transparent...or somewhere in the middle?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Somewhere shy of 100 percent

As promised, a full blog post on Jay Rosen's suggestion, "The 100 percent solution."

"It works like this: First, you set a goal to cover 100 percent of… well, of something. In trying to reach the goal you immediately run into problems. To solve those problems you often have to improvise or innovate. And that’s the payoff, even if you don’t meet your goal," he writes.

My first thought, of course, was, "How can I apply this? What would this mean for me?" I cover Coatesville, PA, the only city in my county, which has been described as a scale version of Philadelphia, or Chester in Delaware County. In my spare time (?) I cover the surrounding municipalities as well.

I'd love to cover 100 percent of what is happening in Coatesville. To me, that means reporting on council, the school district, the Weed and Seed program and new community initiatives, the church community, and the youth element, among others. (The last draws my interest because there's a lot of concern about crime and drugs in the city, and many complain the youth culture both is vulnerable to those problems, and ends up perpetuating them for lack of things to do.)

But I'm one person, and still a rookie at that. How could I possibly cover everything going on in even one of those areas, much less all of them?

Jay mentions two papers in my cluster with the Journal Register Company (for which he is an advisory board member): the Reporter in Lansdale, PA and the Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. And in the examples he gives, teamwork makes a huge difference.

There are multiple people involved on the newspaper end, which in a newsroom shrunk by the economic crisis isn't likely to be an option for me. However, the kinds of crowdsourcing that he describes just might be.

There are already people who contact me with tips, of course. But there's a lot of conversation that happens on Facebook and on Twitter that I might be able to tap into.

Also, despite a deep distrust of the Daily Local News by many city residents (who feel that the Local has targeted the community and exploits its problems to sell papers), I believe there are people who would actively contribute information if I coordinated it - and that I might even be able to win over some of the city in the process.

One major criticism is that the paper doesn't cover enough positive events in the city. It's true that I am not able to attend and write an article about every festival and awards ceremony, or even every community meeting. But I'm happy to collate information that's passed to me...and I think it might be time to make seeking that info a priority.

For example, despite a strained relationship with the school district, I think there's a good chance that I can work with high school students interested in journalism - we already tried that with a program called "iJournalists," but there's no reason I can't seek something a little more community-specific. And members of the Weed and Seed committees are already extremely active in the community, and anxious to get the word out about their efforts.

Would this, if successful, constitute a "100 percent solution"? I'm not sure. From reading the post, though, it seems that despite the name, that's not really the point. The point is innovation. I've hesitated often due to my "rookie" status, but the fact is, I've been testing the limits of internet communication since I was 13 - maybe not to the level of a programmer, but in a lot of ways, that means I have more in common with the average reader.

Sometimes it seems like the bigwigs in journalism are trying to turn the sticky helm of a very big ship, and sometimes I get caught up in that. Don't get me wrong - institutional knowledge of journalism is absolutely invaluable. And traditional journalism, after all, has given me a start and a platform, and print is still the company's biggest source of revenue.

But one question that has been a touchstone for me for the last two years has been, "What would I do if I were starting a media company from scratch?" Thinking that way is, to me, the difference between starting from possibilities and starting from limitations. Turning the ship isn't my gig.

What do you think? If you were to start a media company tomorrow, what would you prioritize? Would the idea of 100 percent coverage inform your strategy, or do you think it's irrelevant?