Solutions Journalism used to be sort of a buzz word, a trend. I’d show up to conferences and inevitably find a session about it, half of which was spent explaining the concept and answering questions that started with, “No, this isn’t advocacy.” Continue reading Why I organized Narcan training for journalists
Business and journalism rarely come together they way they should at conferences. So I was delighted to moderate a panel at the What If Innovation Festival last month at Temple University.
The festival was organized by and targeted to students at the Fox School of Business, and I moderated three lightening panels with Philadelphia entrepreneurs about starting, growing and sustaining young businesses. Continue reading Panel moderation: What If Innovation Festival
I got married. It’s pretty exciting. We tied the knot July 25 — six months ago already! — but I began my name change prep several months before that. Changing your name takes a lot of work. It’s not that any one thing is difficult or costly, but there’s a lot. And because so much of what we do online is connected, changing one thing often means having to change four or five other things. Continue reading The very detailed guide to changing your name after your wedding
What are the obstacles and opportunities in today’s media landscape? I spent a couple hours on the evening of April 23 talking about just that with David Board, dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication, and three of my fellow alumni: Kurtis Lee of the Los Angeles Times, David Wood of The Huffington Post and Steve Capus of CBS Evening News. Continue reading Panel appearance: Discussing news industry trends and obstacles with fellow Temple University alumni
Six Democrats are vying to be Philly’s next mayor, and with the primary less than a month away, Fox29 hosted one of three televised debates to get the candidates to talk about important Philly issues.
These candidates’ schedule are absolutely ridiculous, with one 60-hour stretch including no fewer than 10 debates. But televised debates are king because of the accessibility. Along with journalists from students from St. Joseph’s University and journalists from Fox, 900AM WURD and Al Dia, I represented Billy Penn on the panel. Continue reading Questioning Philly’s mayoral candidates at the Fox29 debate
I had the opportunity Nov. 13 to geek out with other community managers and socially savvy reporters when the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association invited me to keynote their Sharon Johnson Memorial Workshop on community engagement.
My speech focused on what I refer to as “maximizing the message and minimizing the messenger” — basically, putting news and information ahead of an organization’s brand.
The work I do at Billy Penn revolves around engaging different communities according to their preferences, and making sure the first thing we do is inform them. So often — because it’s so easy for content to get lost online — news organizations make it a point to remind their audiences who’s informing them. Only News 1 spoke with this councilman about this issue! Our reporter Jane Schmo attended a major education meeting and has all the details for you! Where’s the information in those sentences? Why have we forgotten that our job as news professionals is to inform people?
I kept my speech to about 15 minutes so everyone at the workshop could have a full half-hour to ask questions of me and others, and to share their experiences with community engagement. There were about 25 people in attendance, and I think this is one of the most productive conversations about industry issues that I’ve been a part of in these workshop settings. It doesn’t matter if you work at a small startup like I do, at a legacy newspaper covering state politics, or for a smaller publication covering local issues — everyone has community engagement tales to tell and scars to show. Continue reading My keynote address at the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association community engagement workshop
Nov. 4, 2014 was easily the most fun and most productive I’ve ever felt on Election Night, and there are two clear reasons for that:
1. I’m working at Billy Penn, a very lean news startup. There’s no room to be unprepared, and all-hands-on-deck basically means looking across a table to communicate with all my colleagues. Having a plan and sticking to it was pretty easy.
2. We hosted a shared newsroom that night. And though it ended up being a historically short midterm gubernatorial election, we had a great time. Continue reading Billy Penn’s Election Night shared newsroom
I now work for Billy Penn. The Philly news site, not the person.
The bootstrapped site (formerly known as Brother.ly) is the work of Jim Brady and Chris Krewson, and I’m thrilled to be working with people who really understand news from a consumer’s perspective. We’re operating under the tagline, “a mobile news platform for a better Philly.” Continue reading And now for something completely different: Working at Billy Penn
When I made the decision in late 2013 to close NEast Philly, offers poured in to keep the site running. Many community groups, politicians, universities, bloggers and local newsies offered to either fund the site, host pieces of the archives or keep the site alive with some kind of fresh content.
I found it surprisingly easy to envision all of these possibilities. After five years of closely managing the site and being extremely careful about affiliations, once I made the decision to close up shop, letting go wasn’t as hard as I imagined. But I knew I wanted to find the right fit for the archives — a place where I could be proud to send people looking for the content, where it would all be in one place, and where related content already exists.
That transition is now complete. Continue reading Finding a new home for NEast Philly’s content
I could not sit idly by last week as University of Pennsylvania researchers announced findings that the Philadelphia accent may very well be fading.
So as a NewsWorks colleague set out to determine exactly what that meant, I took it upon myself to defend the oft-mocked accent, and explain why, no matter how the city changes, its residents will likely always say “wooder.”
The full essay is below, and you can read the original on NewsWorks. Continue reading Why I love the Philly accent and why it’s not going anywhere [NewsWorks essay]
Just because I’m a social media editor doesn’t mean I spend all day at a computer using Facebook or Twitter.
Actually, it does sort of mean that, but if you’re a journalist in 2012, you’ve got to be able to multitask and you really ought to develop skills across several platforms. That’s partly how I came to be on live TV Nov. 6 to cover the 2012 election. Continue reading Covering the 2012 election on live TV [NewsWorks]
Back in March, my boss at NewsWorks/WHYY came to me and offered what I then considered to be just a fun opportunity to spread my wings at work.
Months later, I’m still working on the project that’s basically changed the things about my life I’ve always accepted as truth.
Through a grant from WNET and the Henry Louis Gates “Finding Your Roots” initiative, I worked with DNA analysts and genealogical researches to confirm what I’d always been taught about my roots: I’m Native American, but not Irish. Turns out neither is likely true.
The full story is below. It originally ran on NewsWorks as a two-video package. Continue reading How a work project uncovered my true family roots [NewsWorks]
A handful of Philadelphia publications were given $5,000 grants to collaborate with other news organizations to produce in-depth reporting. Continue reading Introducing District 172: NEast Philly’s investigative reporting series
Shannon McDonald | The Temple News | March 24, 2009
‘Sunny’ star still a Philly guy at heart
If the name of his show wasn’t enough proof already, Rob McElhenney, 31, is a Philadelphia guy. In an exclusive interview with The Temple News, the writer, producer and star of
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia reminisces about his days of hanging out in Fairmount Park, sneaking into bars and roaming Temple’s Main Campus for a semester.
Shannon McDonald: You’re a born-and-raised Philly kid. How did you spend your time growing up?
Rob McElhenney: I grew up in South Philadelphia at Moyamensing and Dickinson, then, I moved to Delaware County after high school. I went to high school at St. Joe’s Prep and hung out with kids from all different schools. I don’t know if kids do this anymore, but we used to go to Lemon Hill in Fairmount Park after school to hang. Sometimes we’d go to the bars that let underagers in.
SM: I hear you went to Temple for a while. Have any fond memories?
RM: My time at Temple was short. I went for a semester but didn’t finish. I wasn’t a great student – I wasn’t excelling, and I wasn’t there long enough to declare a major. I wanted to leave Philly and see new things, so I moved to New York. I stayed there for seven years before heading out to Los Angeles.
SM: When did you realize you wanted to make a career out of acting?
RM: As a kid, I did plays in school but never really thought of it as being a career option. It wasn’t until I got to New York City and met waiters and bartenders who were doing shows at night that I ever considered it as a profession. I enrolled in Lee Strasberg [Theatre and Film Institute], which is associated with the Screen Actors Guild and started acting. Continue reading Exclusive interview with Rob McElhenny of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”