Philadelphia Metropolis

Metropolis - Philadelphia News and Journalism

Metrop­o­lis is a “news, analy­sis and com­men­tary” site from vet­er­an Philadel­phia reporter Tom Fer­rick (Wikipedia). An alum of The Philadel­phia Inquir­er, Tom’s spent the last half-dozen years talk­ing to every­one who will lis­ten about the future of print and Philly news. He’s done talk­ing and is show­ing what can be done on a bud­get bud­get. From “This is Metrop­o­lis,” the lead arti­cle:

Local news­pa­pers, TV and radio sta­tions are retreat­ing from in-depth cov­er­age of region­al news either due to eco­nom­ic or audi­ence con­sid­er­a­tions.

The retreat has been grad­ual, but no one expects it to stop. The com­pa­ny that owns the region’s largest news­pa­pers — the Inquir­er and Dai­ly News — is in bank­rupt­cy. The size of the edi­to­r­i­al staffs at the papers con­tin­ues to shrink. The prog­no­sis for metro dailies here and else­where is not good. The jour­nal­ism prac­ticed by these papers is still robust, but the eco­nom­ic mod­el that has sus­tained it is erod­ing. If these tra­di­tion­al sources of news fal­ter or fail what will take their place?

The site was built in Mov­able Type. The most promi­nent fea­ture is the slideshow dis­play of fea­tured arti­cles. Tom has seen a sim­i­lar effect on anoth­er jour­nal­ism site and a search found the “Slid­ing Hor­i­zon­tal Ban­ner Rota­tor” at Active Den, a great site to pur­chase pre-built Flash files. Mov­able Type entries are out­fit­ted with cus­tom fields to enter images and links. Mov­able Type then cre­ates a cus­tom XML file for the “Main Sto­ries” feed, which is then picked up and dis­played by the Flash ban­ner. In addi­tion, the site uses Google Adsense to pro­vide income.

Vis­it: Philadel­phia Metrop­o­lis

Con­tin­ue read­ing

Tweaking the blogs for hyperlocal content

Inter­est­ing arti­cle over the Move­able­type blog. Anil Dash inter­views George John­son Jr of Hyper­local Media, who’s using MT as a con­tent sys­tem to build hyper­local com­mu­ni­ty sites that can com­pete against local news­pa­pers (see their very-cool look­ing Buf­faloRis­ing site). 

Here’s some of what John­son has to say:

Dis­tri­b­u­tion, con­tent cre­ation, and the abil­i­ty to more
eas­i­ly com­pete with estab­lished local play­ers online… blog­ging is
per­fect for that. I mean a blog is chrono­log­i­cal­ly arranged, in
columns, divid­ed by cat­e­gories and changes (in many cas­es) every­day.
That’s the broad def­i­n­i­tion of a news­pa­per, right? A blog is so much
more than that, but the basic struc­ture lends itself very well to
devel­op­ing an online com­peti­tor for news­pa­pers.

It was three years ago that I fol­lowed Brad Choate’s instruc­tions for using Move­able Type as a whole-site con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem.
What start­ed as an exper­i­ment became a way of life for me. The MT
inter­face lends itself so well to con­tent man­age­ment that I’m now using
it for my non-techie clients: Quak​er​song​.org and Quak​ery​outh​.org
are both put togeth­er by MT and I’ve been sur­prised that there’s been
almost no learn­ing curve for the client’s adop­tion of this soft­ware.

Giv­en this, it seems odd that the kids at Move­able Type haven’t
tak­en MT in this direc­tion (even more sur­pris­ing since they hired Brad
him­self a few years ago!). I see a big mar­ket in my niche sites for
this sort of func­tion­al­i­ty and three years lat­er I’m still hav­ing to
tweak tem­plates to get this to work. Anil, what’s up? If Dru­pal had bet­ter doc­u­men­ta­tion and smoother instal­la­tion it would have been the brawn behind Mar​tinKel​ley​.com.

It would be fun to fol­low Until Monday’s exam­ple and cre­ate a
hyper­local site (hint hint to VW if she’s read­ing this). Of course,
local­i­ty is not just geographically-based any­more. Quak​erquak​er​.org is a local por­tal of a dif­fer­ent kind. I’m a big believ­er that the hyper­local­i­ty of niche and geo­graph­ic sites are the cut­ting edge in the next-wave of the social web.

There’s a lot of pio­neer­ing to be done in this regards. The net has
a lot of pow­er to take down cul­ture monop­o­lies by con­fronting old boy
net­works and business-as-usual think­ing with inno­v­a­tive social net­works
that har­ness the tal­ents of the out­siders. The smart news­pa­pers,
mag­a­zines, church­es and cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tions will come on board and
leap-frog them­selves to twenty-first cen­tu­ry rel­e­vance. Too many of the
Philadel­phia (and/or) Quak­er insti­tu­tions I know respond to change by
shuf­fling job titles and putting blind­ers up against rec­og­niz­ing the
ever-narrower demo­graph­ic they serve.