Introducing: Philly News Video

I recently launched my latest experiment in independent social media journalism:

Here’s the idea: Using only the Canon S100 and iPhone 5 that I usually have in my pockets —- plus a very small tripod —- I will shoot, edit and distribute video of the occasional newsworthy incidents and events which I tend to stumble across while living in Philadelphia.

I transfer footage from my camera to my phone using Eye-Fi cards, cut a few clips together and clean up the edges with iMovie, and then post with the WordPress app.

In most cases, this process will produce “b-roll” footage, ideal for brief TV news voiceovers. It has been taking me about 30 minutes from last shot to live post, although I expect to get faster with practice — and with more efficient shooting in particular.

Next: I have set up to post a tweet from @PhillyNewsVideo with the report title, targeting the local TV news stations.

If they choose, news organizations can make payment online, download the 720p HD video and share it with their audiences without further delay.

The goal is to reduce friction and eliminate the time and cost of marketing and invoicing found in traditional freelance video news models. The simple tools help with both cost reduction and mobility.

I’m not sure if I nailed the price points, but compare the cost of sending a crew — in a truck — when stations will need only to read their tweets and click to buy and download.

I spent less than $10 on the domain name, and developed and refined the site over just a few hours, but will also rely on my long background in newspaper and wire service photojournalism before becoming the first video journalist at the Philadelphia Daily News in 2007.

Here’s my first tweet-promoted effort: Philadelphia Chinese New Year 2014 footage

I got a lot of attention back in 2008 when I blogged about selling an iPhone news photo via Twitter, and this is an extension of the same idea.

I haven’t any takers with my first few videos, but sooner or later I will run across something more critical, which I suspect may become the game-changer.

All of my endeavors in digital journalism — such as the Gun Crisis Reporting Project – are driven by social responsibility and intended as a public service, but I have been learning the hard way that none will sustain unless I incorporate a revenue plan from the launch.

Wish me luck!

p.s.: The still photo at the top of this post was take from the same video.

This week: Chasing Ben Franklin for

Beginning Tuesday morning, I will be taking over‘s Instagram account to post pictures focusing on Ben Franklin — “The First American” – as we work our way up to his 308th birthday on Friday.

I will have to do my best to live up previous guest Instagram-ers, including old friends David Maialetti, Eric Mencher and Neal Santos.

Please follow along at @visitphilly, share your suggestions for what I should shoot, and let me know what you think about the results.

Press club honors and ambitions

Earlier this week
, I was recognized with a new award from the nation’s oldest press club: The Pen and Pencil Club honored me with one of their inaugural Philadelphia News Awards, in my case for “Best Social Media Use of the Year” — “on Twitter himself” and for my work @GunCrisisNews.

This is the second social media award for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project this year — including our Philly Geek Award — and my first local award since 2009, when Philadelphia Magazine gave me a “Best of Philly,” calling me the city’s best “Nuevo Journalist,” back when nobody really knew how to articulate what I was doing.

About the P&P competition: I’m never one to hand out participant awards or say that all the losers are winners, but in this case I think that the nomination process — with selections made by the club’s board of governors — had more authority than the final selections, which were determined by an open online survey.

In other words, while I feel honored to have been included on a very respectable list of winners and grateful to all who voted, I would like to equally congratulate all of the nominees in this case, for grabbing the attention of our peers on the board — a highly-accomplished and critical bunch of people, found on this page.

Check the complete list or winners and nominees here:

Overall, journalists spend much too much time giving each other awards, but this endeavor also did a remarkable job of convening more top-shelf Philadelphia professionals than I have ever seen pulled together in one room, and that’s worth repeating.

I hope the process becomes more refined next year, and now I am hoping to help make that happen, and pursue others changes in the air at this esteemed institution: I will be running for a position on the Pen and Pencil’s board of governors for the first time next month.

So, If you are a member, please come out and vote.

Meanwhile, learn more about the P&P, keep up with events and other news, join the Facebook group, follow on Twitter, and sign up for your membership here:

Thanks to everybody who got the awards off the ground and to all who joined us for this week’s celebration.

#GunCrisis: Philadelphia Week in Review

Police investigate the crime scene after a 17-year-old boy was wounded in shooting incident Friday night in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

Police investigate the crime scene after a 17-year-old boy was wounded in a shooting incident Friday night in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

Police gather at the scene where a 26-year-old man was shot overnight in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Tom Kelly IV.

A shell casing is circled in chalk at the scene after a 26-year-old man was shot in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia. Photograp for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Tom Kelly IV.

If you want to get involved in gun violence reduction in Philadelphia, please consider volunteering your time or making a donation to one of the organizations listed under our Network tab at the top of this site. If you would like us to add your group to our list, please email us at

The Gun Crisis Reporting Project is an award-winning, independent, nonprofit journalism community striving to illuminate the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia — and to find solutions.

But we need your help. Click to see how your tax-deductible contribution can support our volunteer staff.


Pen and Pencil Club Philadelphia News Awards: “The best journalism that this city has to offer”

I’m starting this week very happy to find myself listed among some of my favorite people, nominated for the inaugural 2013 Pen and Pencil Club Philadelphia News Awards, celebrating and recognizing “the best journalism that this city has to offer.”

Unabashed endorsements: I respect and admire a lot of my colleagues on the list, but I especially hope you will take a minute to vote for:

  • Kathy Matheson: Breaking News nominee from AP — and love of my life, and..
  • Joe Kaczmarek: Multimedia nominee — and my co-founding partner at the Gun Crisis Reporting Project.

Vote early and often. It’s Philadlephia after all:

Pen & Pencil Club: Awards

The Pen & Pencil Club is the oldest continuously operating press club in America, and the second oldest in the world.

Tonight at Drexel: “War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath”


The curator of “War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” is presenting tonight in a Drexel University class which is free and open to the public.

Anne Tucker, Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, curated “War/Photography,” which went from Houston to LA to the Corcoran in Washington, and will head to the Brooklyn Museum in November.  It covers 165 years of war photography and was put together over the past ten years.

The class will meet at 6:30 in  Room 301 in the Main Building at Drexel, at 3141 Chestnut Street.

The New York Times wrote about the exhibit last year: Battlefield Images, Taking No Prisoners

Getting your Instagram photos back into your Twitter timeline


Do you remember how great it used to look when you could post your Instagram photos into your Twitter timeline?

Then, Twitter went and changed the process, leaving followers to see only an Instagram link, perhaps because Instagram was acquired by rival Facebook.

Well, I recently started using “If this, then that” at, a free service that allows users to create simple “recipes” to automate the re-sharing of content across networks and platforms.

Now, when I post to Instagram, Twitter reposts the photo to, and it looks like this on Twitter:


The steps are so simple and intuitive that you really don’t need to read them here, but just to reaffirm:

1) Set up your free account at
2) Click “Create a recipe.”
3) Click on “If this.”
4) Click on the Instagram icon.
5) Click on “Any new photo by you,” (or one of the alternative choices if you prefer.)
6) Click “Create trigger.” Log into your Instagram account if prompted.
7) Click on “Then that.”
8) Click on the Twitter icon.
9) Click in “Post a tweet with image.” Log into your Twitter account if prompted.
10) Leave the default “Action Fields” and click “Create Action.”

Then, just post a photo on Instagram, check your Twitter profile a little bit later and do a victory dance when you see how great it looks.

Some notes:

- Reposting to Twitter is sometimes delayed. It seems to take about 15 minutes on average. So, this isn’t the best process for breaking news coverage.

- Don’t click on the Twitter sharing button inside the Instagram mobile app anymore. That will still post the link and caption to your twitter profile, and then IFTTT will post to Twitter again with the photo. That can look a little messy and maybe confuse or annoy your Twitter followers.

Happy sharing.