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Briefy >> Calling All Mayors

Philadelphia Daily News Assistant Managing Editor Wendy Warren, right, and Online Editor Vance Lehmkuhl
Philadelphia Daily News Assistant Managing Editor Wendy Warren, right, and Online Editor Vance Lehmkuhl are working on a Web site focusing on next year’s mayoral race.
Photo by BOB LARAMIE/Philadelphia Daily News

HELP WANTED: Fifth-largest city in nation seeks motivated cheerleader type for mayor. Must have strong team building, organizational, problem solving and interpersonal skills and be able to work with diverse groups of people to promote and develop the prosperity and social well-being of the city’s residents. Inspiring leadership, unquestioned integrity, knowledge of the issues, vision for the future and solutions for all of the city’s problems are preferred.

Political contests are often described as either horse races or beauty contests. The Philadelphia Daily News wants to change that in next year’s mayoral election. A full two years ahead of the vote, the paper began coverage of the race through a Web site, thenextmayor.com (which features the help wanted ad above). Part of an ongoing Daily News project called “Rethinking Philadelphia,” the site aims to encourage the city to think about its future in creative ways and to help solve problems instead of just reporting them, says Assistant Managing Editor Wendy Warren. “We have a reputation as the newspaper for political reporting in Philadelphia, and we want to maintain our franchise,” she said. “More importantly, we want to impact the mayor’s race and make it more about issues and less about the horse race.”

Thenextmayor.com is a partnership between the Daily News, WHYY public television and radio, and the Committee of Seventy, a good-government organization headed by former Daily News Executive Editor Zack Stalberg. The site is a multimedia collaboration that draws together Daily News stories, audio and video from WHYY, video commentaries by Stalberg and feedback from readers.

Over the next year the site will also incorporate blogs, online polls, an issues/candidates database search and other interactive features to generate a conversation among voters and decision-makers about what it takes to lead Philadelphia. (The site’s help wanted ad, for example, was designed to encourage reader submissions of their own ads for the new mayor.)

“It’s getting a lot of attention from the political community and a lot of good feedback from our readers,” Warren said. “The mayor’s race is actually a major event in Philadelphia and there’s a lot of value in this sort of coverage.”

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