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Life news: I got a dog



I’m excited and frustrated. The promise in news tech has never been greater. But neither have the challenges.

The President is a distraction. No doubt, real damage is being wrecked, but the election was a symptom and not the cause of our current disease of the body politic.

Mass media, corporatization, consolidation, the Internet, and finally the financial crisis resulted in the dissolution of the local media business model.

The Times, The Journal, The Post – they are safe. Subscribe, yes, but don’t worry about their sustainability in an existential sense. Myopically, shamelessly, ruthlessly: I believe the problem is local.

I’m excited there is a small batch of promising local news startups that have to varying degrees refrained from the siren call of venture or corporate funding.

The news companies that excite me most today are WhereBy.Us, Charlotte Agenda, ARLNow, Levittown Now, and Technically Philly. I want to pour fuel on their fire. Despite my enthusiasm, there is one nagging thought at the back of my mind: How do we prevent this from happening again? What enabled corporatization and consolidation?

Ownership is the material thing. Hedge funds, not awesome. Public or pre-public company, okay. Billionaire philanthropist (or his philanthropy), now we’re talking. But even better than having a good owner is being a good owner.

We can focus on grooming and supporting independent and strong publishers who can begin the slow and low multiple effort of building service-oriented local news businesses. Publishers who believe in sharing the journey – emotional, financial – with editorial staff. Labor and capital intertwined.

Why not? Decision making power need not correlate with financial share, so Church and State should not be an issue any more than a blind trust would be in a political setting.

We all should know by now that not all ownership, not all publishers, are created equal. Love those who speak truth to power and support your local news collective!

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Less, More, and None

My friend Ethan shared his Less, More, and None list (inspired by Jacoby Young). Cool idea, thought I’d give it a try. Always good to remind yourself of your better aspirations.

Lenfest Institute and Digital First Media?

Notes on dynamic meters

Notes on newsletters

Notes on the membership model for news


Capturing Shawmont Station before its $1,000,000 preservation begins – the oldest extant passenger rail station in America

Originally a 18′ by 36′ stone house (Wissahickon Schist), the structure wouldn’t have stood out from the other country homes in this part of Philadelphia, at the tip of the Manayunk Reach, situated at the end of today’s Manayunk Canal Towpath.

Testing WordPress Gutenberg on a high volume news site

Water, sand, and societal change

The best restaurant? Matunuck Oyster Bar

Does Perry Raso run the best restaurant? Yes, I think he does.

EverQuote and patent medicine

In a thread begun October 2016, Washington Post technology director Aram Zucker-Scharff tweeted about the shady advertising practices of EverQuote, a Boston-based startup. Since then these ads have become prolific on the web (and nearly as prolific are Aram’s tweets documenting the malfeasance).

Lenfest Institute and Digital First Media?

What if Alden let another organization manage its newspaper assets as a blind trust? It would lose a great deal of flexibility in using DFM assets to leverage other companies it owns, but it would be able to wash its hands of the growing public relations crisis. Furthermore, it would give space for the strategic direction of DFM to be explored and pursued without the added baggage of hedge fund cross-percolation.

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