It has been A Year. Here's how Technical.ly covered 2020 - Technical.ly

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Dec. 23, 2020 4:34 pm

It has been A Year. Here’s how Technical.ly covered 2020

A look at how our team reported on a year of tumult, and took new approaches to storytelling in the pandemic.
The Technically Media team at our virtual All-Team Day, Dec. 17 2020.

The Technically Media team at our virtual All-Team Day, Dec. 17 2020.

(Screenshot)

Like a mailed holiday card detailing your distant cousin’s kid’s newfound affinity for gymnastics, consider this your roundup of Technical.ly’s major moves and greatest hits of 2020. Except this one’s digital, not printed on Shutterfly card stock.

Quick programming note before we jump into the articles and organizational updates: Technically Media will be closed from Thursday, Dec. 24, until Monday, Jan. 4, which means you shouldn’t expect to see us publishing stories or shipping newsletters until that first week of the new year. Our small team works hard every weekday to deliver news about the local tech communities in Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C. and Delaware, and after (say it with me) an especially challenging year, we’re looking forward to the break a little more than usual.

We hope you’ll miss us, but we’ll see you soon.

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So, what changes did 2020 bring to the Technical.ly newsroom?

The biggest one: We hired two new reporters via the national Report for America program. Michael Butler joined us in Philly, and Donte Kirby joined us in Baltimore. They’re helping us expand our access and economic development beat and are, happily, lovely people as well. Pitch them at michael@technical.ly and donte@technical.ly.

Donte Kirby (L) and Michael Butler. (Courtesy photos; image via Canva)

We redesigned Technical.ly’s homepage and article pages. We also rethought how we categorize our reporting, changing up the words on those colorful icons above article headlines. We added “professional development” and “company culture,” for instance, and switched “business” to “growth.” This was part of our ongoing mission to write for, not just about, our readers — meaning that we aim for everything you read on Technical.ly will help you do your job better, or better understand your local tech community.

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We hosted an all-virtual version of Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast — our 10th annual, no less. This was a huge feat including dozens of digital panels, and parties. But happily, it didn’t burn us out on planning for PTW21: Look out for the massive event series to return May 7-15 of 2021.

We hosted virtual awards in all four markets, too. By way of public vote, these programs — including two live Zoom announcements and one Twitter event — honored the people and orgs selected as your Invention, Impact Leader, Culture Builder, Startup, Growth Company and Technical Leader of the Year. Check out the winners for Philly, Baltimore, D.C. and Delaware.

The Technical.ly Awards in Philly, held during Philly Tech Week 2020. (Screenshot)

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In terms of news, we published more than 2,500 articles across the four sites where we have daily coverage. That incorporated all of our usual beat — technology, entrepreneurship and innovation, broadly — but also, how local economies and companies were forced to pivot to meet the coronavirus pandemic, and how the workplace changed as a result. Oh, and that election that will shift presidential power in a few weeks, and the ongoing battle over federal relief funding for said struggling businesses.

While we’ve long dedicated reporting to the topic of racial equity in the technology space, this June, amid national protests against police brutality, we widened that more intentionally to include systemic racism. This also includes the work being done to increase access and representation for people who have been historically left out of local tech economies. We published dozens of first-person perspectives (including several from our own team) as well as tracked how companies were responding (or not) to calls for equity.

We also gave extra attention to our 12 editorial calendar themes of the year, with some pivots. April’s theme shifted from community building to healthcare technologies to account for the rise in private-sector responses to the then-nascent pandemic. Meanwhile, community building was bumped to May, at the expense of global expansion. (Finding community in new ways during a time of intense social isolation just seemed more relevant than, um, how companies were thinking about cross-border business deals.)

Amid that May theme, we published our inaugural RealLIST Connectors — roundups of 70 to 110 local folks, from founders to incubator leaders to extraordinary networkers, who are making the links to grow their communities. Find them all on our RealLIST series page, where you’ll also see the 2020 RealLIST Engineers (most influential local technologists) and startups (most promising local companies).

Some of Baltimore’s 2020 RealLIST Connectors. (Image by Stephen Babcock)

In addition to this daily coverage and special projects, we also launched a deep-dive reporting series on Pittsburgh’s innovation economy, and two place-based series on Black and Latinx entrepreneurship, focused on Wilmington and Philadelphia.

We missed seeing the faces of our communities at events this year, but we found new ways of storytelling using audio and video capabilities. Our video series Technical.ly DC Diaries offered interviews with company builders in the District, and all of the reporters went On the Record for video interviews discussing their recent reporting. You’ll also hear the voices of our reporters on the second season of Off the Sidelines, the Technical.ly-produced investor education podcast.

This week, each of our lead reporters published a roundup of their markets’ best-read stories of the year. They’re insightful looks at what you, readers, cared about most in 2020 — and indeed, many of these stories reflect the year’s biggest themes. Check out the top 10 for Philly, Baltimore, D.C. and Delaware.

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Looking forward, we have some big plans for 2021.

We’re officially expanding to Pittsburgh with the Q2 onboarding of a full-time reporter, thanks again to the RfA program. (If you’re interested in joining us there, note that apps are due by Jan. 31.) We’re also planning to hire for a few roles; more details to come in the new year.

You can expect a redesigned daily newsletter that will better highlight our biggest stories of the day, as well as our archives and other quick insights on what’s happening in your local tech community. Subscribe here to be among the first to see it when it’s live.

And in terms of coverage, of course, we’ll continue to follow the changing economy, the new presidential administration, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, the ongoing commitment to racial equity in the workplace — and what it all means for local entrepreneurs, technologists and other professionals.

We’ll also publish the fifth (!!!) annual RealLIST Startups lists in each market this January. You can nominate a promising young company for consideration by Jan. 10.

Thanks for following along. We’ll see you next year.

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