Category Archives: Uncategorized

CPIJ to host Q&A with MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer

While regional, nonprofit, online news organizations around the country look for sustainable business models, Minnesota’s MinnPost seems to have found the golden ratio—or at least one that works for now. For the past two years—drawing revenue from advertising, foundation grants, events, capital campaigns, and memberships—MinnPost has turned a modest profit.

On February 28th, 2012, MinnPost Editor and CEO Joel Kramer will be coming to Temple University to talk about his efforts to build a financially viable news organization. Mr. Kramer, a lifelong newsman who launched MinnPost in 2007, will give a short presentation followed by a Q&A session, both of which will be free and open to the public.

To register for the event, please visit the invitation page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CPIJ Announces Larry Weiss Award for Investigative Journalism

With the generous support of local business leader Larry Weiss, the Center for Public Interest Journalism (CPIJ) has established an award to recognize the best investigative journalism in the Delaware Valley. The Larry Weiss Award for Investigative Journalism, open to journalism of any medium (print, broadcast or online) produced in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, South Jersey or Delaware, will include one top prize of $10,000 and two “special recognition” prizes of $2,500. There is no fee for submission.

Read the full press release here.

The award is intended to encourage original, enterprising, deeply reported and revelatory news coverage that has had significant impact on the Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware communities, particularly stories that generated an increased public awareness about an under recognized social problem; malfeasance in local or state government; waste, fraud and abuse in government agencies or business; or other issues related to advancing the public good.

The awards will be presented at a televised luncheon at WHYY studios in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

Entries must be investigative journalism — not advocacy, editorials or opinion. Entries can be in any medium, i.e. print (dailies, weeklies, magazines, etc.), broadcast (TV, radio) or online. Single stories or series are eligible (a story may include text, photos, audio, video and/or graphics). Single authors or reporting teams are eligible. Eligible stories should have been published and/or aired during 2011. The submission deadline is Feb. 15, 2012.


  • Entries require a hard-copy two-page nomination letter explaining origin of story and impact after publication, along with a copy of the complete story/series.
  • Awarded reporting must focus on a topic/issue in the nine-county area (Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks, Burlington, Glouster, Camden, Atlantic), and three Delaware counties (New Castle, Kent, and Sussex) served by WHYY.
  • Reporter(s), including photographers, substantially involved in the production of the story may apply. In the case of broadcast reporting, producers may be involved and apply. Publishers, media properties, may be acknowledged in award announcements.
  • Teams may comprise news organizations based in the region while partnering with another, non-local, news organization. Both may be recognized, but lead organization reporter(s) receives honor.
  • Self-nominations are allowed.
  • Support letters are allowed.
  • Award applications must detail names of any/all reporting team members if they are intended to share award.
  • Winners will be required to attend an award luncheon including a roundtable discussion on award winning stories.
  • Winning stories will be republished in an annual “Larry Weiss Award Booklet” featuring the three winning stories, i.e. the first prize and two special recognition stories.
  • Permission to reprint, rebroadcast, or webcast work without charge will be required as part of the entry package, including photos and any other associated material.

Submission Details:

Complete a web submission form here, or send application materials and/or questions via email or postal mail:


Post:    Larry Weiss Award
Center for Public Interest Journalism
School of Communications and Theater
Temple University, 334e Annenberg Hall
2020 North 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122 
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Highlights from Engaging Communities

posted by Jared Brey

First, thank you to everyone who came to the Engaging Communities conference hosted by the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University this past Saturday. An impressive number of you braved early morning hours and SEPTA to find your way to our fair campus here in North Philadelphia. Many of you stayed all day. More importantly, you brought sincere ideas and challenges, and sustained a very vibrant conversation.

For me, the most surprising aspect of the conference should’ve been the least surprising. Namely, while Twitter and other social media are powerful tools that keep important conversations going—browse our Back Channel to read the Twitter comments about the conference—they don’t touch what happens when you put lots of people in the same room and make them talk about things they care about. Even when it’s a weekend, and that room has no windows. The Internet is good, but the human body is still the best technology I know about.

What follows is a summary of some thoughts I’ve had in response to our conference on Saturday. I’m writing here only as myself; I don’t pretend to represent the point of view of the Center for Public Interest Journalism.

1) There’s a series of holes in the notion of engaging communities. What communities are we trying to engage, and, more importantly, are they even willing to be engaged? I’ve often feared that more media outlets might only mean more ways for the same people to get news. That fear was somewhat tempered by the number of earnest people I met on Saturday, people with good ideas using media in new ways to reach wider communities. But it was not assuaged. At the very least, we still have a lot more arguing and a lot more trial-and-error to do.

2) There is nothing approaching a consensus on the proper roles of traditional journalism outlets and start-up media. Lew Friedland began our session by describing the “new media ecology,” in which all variety of news and information sources interact and feed on each other. But some people instead see what’s happening in journalism as a distinct break from the past, the onslaught of a new and wholly different future.

Chris Harper, a Temple professor and creator of Philadelphia Neighborhoods, spoke on our Building Audiences panel. He suggested that any hope of a viable future for “legacy media” should be shaken off like a bad dream. He tells his students that they shouldn’t even consider going to work for major newspapers or network news stations. But when he asked who still reads a newspaper every day, about half the conference attendees raised their hands. And it wasn’t just the oldest half of the room.

So it’s an open question: are traditional media dead, or moribund, or merely adjusting? The most avid new media flag-wavers say triumphantly that they’re dead, but many others seem more interested in trying to make them better.

3) Gentrification and racial disparities are flashpoints tied in with every discussion about local news and community engagement. Mike Lyons, editor of West Philly Local, admitted that his site is used primarily by a more affluent, mostly white West Philadelphia audience. Jim Smiley admitted that his Frankford Gazette has not done a particularly good job of engaging the non-white half of his community. Seeking to tread lightly, Lyons said that gentrification is “a complicated issue.” Temple Professor Maida Odom, who moderated the conference’s second panel, on the topic of citizen-produced media, said that the issue is anything but complicated. She said gentrification is simple economics: people with more money move into neighborhoods occupied mostly by people with less money, and change the character of the community. News sites that serve under-represented areas of the city sometimes struggle to serve the particularly under-represented elements of those areas: poor people and minority populations. Predictably, discussions about those issues did not reach satisfying conclusions on Saturday, and those threads will  need to be picked up again. And again.

4) It occurs to me that when we talk about engaging communities with public interest news and information, we’re talking about two things. Public interest news is both a vital democratic mechanism and a commodity in a capitalist economy. So at the same time that we talk high-mindedly about giving our audiences tools to make responsible decisions, we also talk about marketing a product. How and for whom we do that was the source of more than a few lively debates during the conference.

5) Small, start-up news blogs can do a good job of covering stories that would traditionally be ignored by major news organizations, but some people still can’t be reached online. At their best, new media widen the reportorial field of coverage, but not necessarily the field of access. Vince Thompson, a former communications director with the School District of Philadelphia, raised this point a number of times during the day. 40 percent of Philadelphia households have no Internet access, and you can’t engage a community you don’t reach. Jim Smiley, who co-created the hyperlocal Frankford Gazette blog with his father, said he’s all but abandoned social media because it doesn’t reach current Frankford residents. To do that, he’s started a print publication. Several others of the conference’s panelists are involved in innovative projects aimed at empowering communities to create their own media, but the problem of unequal Internet access has to be regarded as both major and unresolved.

Feel free to agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here in the forum of your choosing. And please keep your eye out for upcoming CPIJ activities; our next scheduled event is a chat with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Jim Risen at Temple University on November 29th.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Comments closed

James Risen at Temple, Nov. 29

The Center for Public Interest Journalism and the Temple Department of Journalism present:

A chat with award-winning journalist James Risen

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 5:30 – 6:30 in Annenberg Hall, Room 304

James Risen is an investigative reporter for the New York Times, based in Washington. He was the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, the 2006 Goldsmith Prize for investigative reporting, and was a member of the New York Times reporting team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting.

He joined the New York Times in 1998, after previously working at the Los Angeles Times.

Risen is the author of three books. The first was Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War (Basic Books, 1998), the first comprehensive history of the anti-abortion movement in the United States. The second, The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Final Showdown with the KGB (Random House, 2003), won the 2003 Cornelius Ryan Award from the Overseas Press Club as the best non-fiction book on international affairs. His most recent book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (Free Press, 2006), was a national bestseller.

Risen is a graduate of Brown University, where he majored in history. He received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Risen is married and has three children.

A recent article on Risen –

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Engaging Communities Back Channel

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Reserve a spot for Engaging Communities, Nov. 12

The Center for Public Interest Journalism is hosting a dozen media makers for a daylong forum on “Engaging Communities” on Saturday, November 12, 2011. Innovative ideas, cool people, and free food. Learn more here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment