Media that only chronicles what's wrong without considering how to fix things is only doing half a job. The Citizen will provide context, not just facts—stories that shine a light on our region's change agents and call out the business-as-usual crowd.
Our stories will focus on the issues and ideas that reveal how Philadelphia really works, and why our users should care. But the Citizen will also provide simple ways for the average Philadelphian to become a more active participant in the life of his or her city. Alongside stories, our social action team will post specific ways readers can get more involved (regardless of what side they're on). In essence, we'll be a one-stop shop for civic engagement: the Wawa of citizenship. With one key stroke, users will be able to give feedback to elected representatives in real time, vote on ideas and initiatives that can move the city forward, and sign online petitions.
The Citizen will offer Philadelphians the opportunity to engage in a conspicuously old-school type of social networking: real-time, face to face conversations with the politicians, newsmakers and policy experts who are having a direct effect on the region's quality of life. Picture: an ongoing Philly TedX series; exclusive author/book events; small, members-only "Breaking Bread" dinners, and political debates – even in the absence of elections.
The new wave of storytelling will come from the vast sea of publicly available data – be it crime statistics, city contracts or real estate transactions. The Citizen will accumulate, analyze and present data in easy-to-understand and entertaining ways. Imagine, in the education realm, using data to go beyond the usual charter versus district-run fingerpointing to get to the heart of what works, what doesn't, and why.
In the coming months, we need your help in drafting an army of citizens intent on having a say in how our city is run. We'll need your ideas, your energy and, ultimately, your financial support. For more information on The Citizen – and how you can be a part of changing Philadelphia for the better – CLICK HERE.