Billy Penn

This piece on Philadelphia news startup Billy Penn caught my eye on Twitter this morning:

Brady told the story of Billy Penn… [laying out] his ambitions for the site — millennially-targeted, mobile centric, civic-minded — to many media outlets before, but one of the most striking details came as almost an afterthought late in his presentation: the site is financed totally out of his own pocket.

Brady will be out $225,000 this year, and “it’ll lose close to $500,000 before it gets anywhere close to turning this,” he says, “but it will take a while.” …

That staff produces about five original pieces of content a day in addition to curating content about the city from a spectrum of sources, though an inviolable rule of the site is that content must relate to Philadelphia — no Oscars recaps there.

I’m a fan of what Billy Penn is trying to be. When Jim Brady visited the Pen & Pencil Club sometime last summer, I walked from my Old City apartment to the little club on Latimer Street to hear his vision for the site. I was probably one of the first 100 subscribers to Billy Penn’s daily newsletter. It’s a great way to wake up and feel engaged with Philadephia no matter where I am. And as the “no Oscars recaps” rule suggests, it feel like a substantial rather than trivial sort of engagement with the news.

If it gains the foothold it needs, it’ll be the we deserved rather than what we’ve got. That Billy Penn is described as “civic minded” is important, first because that’s really just “journalism,” and second because while contains some civic minded reporting, the average reader won’t find it through the morass of infotainment, Eagles cheerleaders pin-up girls, and clickbait that pervades the site.