This isn’t your average Exit Interview.
See, the person who usually sat Philly tech folk down and asked them a bunch of questions about why they were changing jobs, closing their business or leaving the city is today on the other side of the notepad.
Juliana Reyes, formerly Technical.ly’s Lead Reporter for Philadelphia, was recently promoted to the role of Associate Editor after four years of exhaustive reporting. From her new position, Reyes will provide editorial insight across this media company’s five markets, working with freelance reporters and guest contributors and unearthing valuable perspectives on how technology is reshaping East Coast economies.
But don’t worry, she won’t be putting her pen down anytime soon (just read her recent piece on 50onRed or her analysis of the city’s stop-and-frisk data.)
So as JR (as she is affectionately known at Technical.ly HQ) eases into her new role and this reporter takes over as Lead Reporter, let’s look back on what Reyes has learned from the Philly tech scene, and what she hopes to achieve as Associate Editor.
(This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Tell me what the most important part of your new gig is.
I think it’s working with writers and people in the community to find new kinds of stories. [Editor’s note: If you’re interested in writing for any of our markets (Brooklyn, Baltimore, Delaware, D.C. or Philly), email Juliana at email@example.com.]
Why is that important to you?
Because I want to get voices out there that aren’t normally read or seen.
That could mean a woman, a person of color, or someone who isn’t seen as much as someone else is in the tech scene. Everyone has a unique experience or, though it may sound cheesy, has a story to tell.
Yeah. And also, we can’t cover it all.
Speaking as the new you, I can vouch for that.
It’s a lot.
What will you miss the most?
I don’t think this is going to change too much, but I think I’ll miss having the license to talk to anyone because I’m a reporter.
Aren’t you just going to get an even better license?
Well, yeah, but I’ll miss having that direct connection with our readers. I’m not going to be the go-to anymore. Which is also kind of a relief. I’ll go back and forth on this, but I will miss having that direct connection.
Editor’s work often goes unnoticed (hi, Zack!) whereas reporters are in the spotlight. Are you ready for that drop-off in attention?
I’ve thought about that. This is both of our fourth weeks, and it’s been very rewarding to see our [outside] writers improve in that short period of time, and see readers connect with the writers you edit. I’ll get back to you in a month about that, but I think that’s very special.
You’ve probably written the phrase “Philadelphia tech community” about a billion times. How do you see it now compared to when you started?
I’ve also asked that question a million times, and I’ve found it always gets the same answer, which I’ll also give you: It has grown a lot. There’s a lot more companies, more people involved, there’s more excitement. We’ve seen the Mayor get more involved with tech.
Everyone’s talking about the growth and vigor in the tech scene. Was that also the sentiment when you started?
Not quite. It wasn’t a given that the tech scene was exciting. That’s happened over the last couple of years and not just in tech: Philly as a city has also been changing.
With all the information you’ve gathered over the last few years, what would you critique of the tech scene?
I think the tech scene needs to work harder at involving the rest of the city. On the first Saturday of Philly Tech Week I spoke at Coded by Kids in North Philly and then I walked down to City Hall. I hadn’t been walking around there in a while. When I was a reporter for the Daily News, I used to go to all the neighborhoods, but when you cover the tech scene you largely cover Old City, Center City and University City. You rarely go to North Philly. There’s been some movement as to how the tech scene can reach beyond these small neighborhoods but there needs to be more work done.
Finally, I’d like to ask you to answer your own birthday questionnaire, but applied to your tenure as Lead Reporter. [Editor’s note: Juliana Reyes has a trio of standard questions she asks each Technically Media staffer during birthday celebrations. Her questions are about the past year of each staffer’s life, but you get the point.]
- One thing I did that I don’t want to do again: Although being the lead reporter was awesome, it’s a lot of pressure to be the main person covering tech at Technical.ly Philly. I’m now ready to let that go.
- Something that I want to do: Work with technologists and people in the tech scene and help them become writers in their own right.
- Something that I did that I had never done before: Interviewing the Mayor in front of a large group of people. Before I joined Technical.ly I had never emceed an event. It’s been cool to grow like that over the past couple of years.