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The Chocolate Trust

When my Philadelphia Media Network colleague tweeted that his The Chocolate Trust had been released, I picked it up immediately. Growing up in Lebanon, PA, just miles down the road from Hershey, the sprawling campus straddling 322 was obviously impressive, but I never knew much about the educational practices. As a boarding school alum myself, I knew MHS wasn’t really part of that world, but also that there must be some complex enterprise keeping the chocolate-funded institution in motion.

Fernandez’s portrait is of an intertwined charitable-corporate complex that was influenced moreso by political and economic considerations than by the mission of educating at-risk youth. A story that runs parallel to that of the corrupt city capitol Harrisburg, PA during the last century, the Chocolate Trust’s rise to enormous wealth and unprecedented power in the Lebanon Valley, a stature that I believe is under-appreciate by most (myself included until finishing the book). Even otherwise innocuous seeming community fixtures, like the Highlands Grill, a restaurant I’d go to when visiting my dad, turning out to be a spectacularly ill-conceived acquisition by MHS.

There is obviously a whole different story to be told about MHS as well – that of the educators and the alumni and those who were positively affected by the institution– but the thesis here is not that MHS bore no good this past century, but that it could be bearing good so much more effectively than it has. A worthy cause indeed and some great journalism behind it.

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Thoughts

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

Essays

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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