Keeping an eye out for community stories in Fishtown

Who we are: 

Grace Shallow and Bryce Furman will be covering the Fishtown beat for their Multimedia Storytelling class at Temple University.

Grace is a junior journalism major. She also is the Managing Editor at The Temple News and interns for The Philadelphia Inquirer on its news features desk. She has a passion for reporting and has worked at other publications like WHYY’s PlanPhilly and London-based Her favorite topics to write about include health, addiction and general human interest stories — she often says everyone has a story to tell, but you just have to ask the right questions to figure it out. And, like every other functioning journalist, she loves coffee.

Bryce is a senior journalism major at Temple University. He has an interest in investigative journalism, and has always had a penchant for telling stories. He found an interest in journalism when he worked on his high school paper, The North Penn Knight Crier. However, he had been writing books since 6th grade. They weren’t always very good, but Bryce kept writing, because he had something to say. His interests in journalism include world events like the Arab Spring, and divisive figures like Edward Snowden. Whether it’s fact or fiction, journalism or creative writing, Bryce is devoted to telling the story.

What current coverage of Fishtown is like:

Media coverage in Fishtown actually just took a big hit. The Spirit of the Riverwards, a hyperlocal paper, recently closed down. The Spirit was a community institution, considering it was originally started by people who live in the neighborhood. The paper’s hyperlocal reporting of the Riverwards highlighted issues, people and events that may have gone otherwise ignored by Philadelphia media. The paper’s website is still live if you want to check out its previous coverage.

There is, however, another paper that covers the neighborhood called The Star, meaning there is still a hyperlocal media presence.

Why this topic needs more coverage:

Not only is this a neighborhood that just lost a hyperlocal newspaper that had been around for years, it’s also a neighborhood that is known for how rapidly it’s changed over the last few years in terms of who lives there. Housing prices in Fishtown have shot up as it’s been redeveloped. Old row homes have been either refurbished or torn down and rebuilt. It’s known, frankly, as the place where hipsters congregate for watering holes like Johnny Brenda’s and art exhibits on the weekend.

But what is missed during all of these discussions about the new demographic of people who live there is the people who have lived there for generations, raised their families in the same home and built up businesses to become local landmarks. These people and their attitudes toward all the new settlers in the neighborhood should be highlighted.

Settling in doesn’t end when the moving trucks pull away, especially when you move into a place like Fishtown.

We’re the right people to cover this because…

Grace has experience working in Fishtown, so she already knows a few people she could reach out to for her own projects or to connect Bryce to sources.

We’re both from the greater Philadelphia area and have an insight into what’s going on in Fishtown already. Our prior experiences, both academic and professional, and our vigorous determination to find and tell stories is why we’re exceptional reporters for this beat.

Three interesting ideas we hope to explore: 

  1. Local businesses that have been there for many years and the people that run them. Bedazzled Hair Salon, for example, is owned by Nancy Bartelle, who has lived in Fishtown her whole life. Her salon doubles as a place to get a haircut and a community meet-up spot — it’s common to see husbands drinking Dunkin’ Donuts and mingling in the salon’s lobby as their wives sit in the chair. 
  2. The history of Fishtown. For example, Palmer Cemetery would be a great place to highlight because the community has been in charge of its care for centuries, and many people from Fishtown want to be buried there, despites its overcrowding 
  3. The disparity between seasoned residents and new residents

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