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i’ve been scooped!

How terrible! Brian Tierney is shocked! Last weekend, The New York Times Magazine had a feature article that imagined Philadelphia would be the first major American city without a major daily newspaper.my article on The Notebook in Next American City by a matter of days! At any rate, the section on The Notebook is a small overview, buried in the depths of the article like so:

In January, the Knight Foundation awarded a $200,000 grant to The Philadelphia Public School Notebook. Its editor, Paul Socolar, may be something like the journalist of the future. He is earnest, dedicated to a cause, foundation-financed and, to this point, read by a narrow audience. I accompanied him to a press briefing for the rollout of the Philadelphia school district’s $3.2 billion budget. He quickly imbibed a thick handout filled with charts and long columns of numbers and jotted down questions, which seemed a bit sharper and harder to answer than those asked by the reporters from the city’s two dailies. The Notebook actually started publishing in 1994, and Socolar, who had two children in the public schools, became its editor five years later. During his tenure, Socolar told me, The Public School Notebook refined its mission: its editors and contributors still consider themselves advocates for change, he said, “but it became equally clear to us that we have to do reporting, have journalistic standards and publish real news stories.” It has largely achieved that. The Notebook, a five-times-a-year print publication, breaks stories and is noticably well written. The grant was to improve its Web site and, as Socolar put it, start a “two-way conversation” with readers. But a broad audience and impact, two goals of traditional journalism, have been hard to attain. Socolar acknowledged that The Notebook’s core readers are insiders — principals, teachers, district administrators and highly engaged parents. “There is a jolt you can get out of an Inquirer story that I know we don’t,” Socolar said. The new money helped energize The Notebook’s Web site, but it will take time before it generates more traffic and hosts a dynamic dialogue. “It’s still pretty modest,” Socolar said. “About 400 visitors a day — 500 or 600 on really good days. And some of those folks are stumbling upon it because they’re looking for the movie ‘The Notebook.’ ”

I suppose I’m a bit biased, but I think this quick hit on The Notebook is sort of a microcosm of the entire article: superficial. Anyways, funny to see that the NYT is looking at some of the same things I am. The article also mentions the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy – an undertaking I’ve been loosely affiliated with…

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