Things are brewing in Philadelphia, a city where the dominant local TV newscast featured smiley cartoon clouds until a few years ago and the two main daily newspapers are owned by one company.
Here are just a few things that have happened over the past few months:
• The Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com are under new ownership, and they have big plans.
• Larry Platt, the former Philadelphia Magazine editor, will soon become the editor of the Daily News.
• The William Penn Foundation has given a grant of $2.4 million to Temple University to incubate a networked journalism project (full disclosure: I am part of the Temple team working on the project).
• J-Lab doled out $5,000 awards to 14 Philly collaborative journalism projects. The awards were funded by the William Penn Foundation.
• The Journal Register company has big plans to launch a hyperlocal news portal in the region.
• WHYY launched Newsworks, a hyperlocal/ arts/ public affairs journalism site that has partner news organizations around the region.
• Patch.com has set up hyperlocal news outlets around the city and region.
• Fox29 changed their news format to be more like cable-news, featuring lots of commentary.
• Most of the local broadcast outlets have begun airing live newscasts at 4:30 am (Fox29 starts at 4:25 am).
• Rumors persist that ESPN will set up shop in Philadelphia (as it did in Chicago and elsewhere).
• The word on the street is that the New York Times wants to set up a regional hub in Philadelphia, as it did in San Francisco and elsewhere.
• Philly-based Comcast, which recently received FCC approval to acquire NBC Universal, is reportedly creating an interactive, web-friendly cable box that includes news options.
• Temple University launched a television station that will broadcast news, as well as other regular programming.
• Several other journalistic outlets have popped up: Flying Kite, Philly Sports Daily and Tek Lado, among others.
• Personally, I am working with a group of people to create a quarterly, print local-music magazine that will debut in March, with 10,000 copies distributed around the city.
What happens next is as uncertain as ever. But Philadelphia is in play.