The Citified Insiders

A few words about our still-developing corps of urban experts, advocates and practitioners.

Citified insiders and superheroes are pretty much the same thing.

Citified insiders and superheroes are pretty much the same thing.

We’re publishing our first submission from a Citified “insider” today, and it’s a moving, highly-personal take on standardized testing from Andrew Saltz, a public school teacher who is probably administering the Keystone Exams as you read this. Tomorrow, we’ll be posting a sharp critique of the new Land Bank from Jay McCalla, a longtime veteran of city government. In the weeks and months to come, you’ll hear from many more voices.

Why are we doing this? A few reasons. First, there’s a lot more to say about what’s happening in Philadelphia than the Citified staff (as vast as it is) can manage on its own. Second, our insiders have intimate, first-hand knowledge of how Philadelphia works—and doesn’t. Their perspectives can help us understand the city better.

Who are Citified’s insiders? We’re still figuring that out and building our roster. Some of them you will likely recognize. Others will be fresh names. But they are all experts on one element or another of the urban condition. We’re talking about cops, teachers, developers, economists, political pros, advocates and more. We want our insiders to be a diverse group. We want them to have diverse views. We won’t be picking them from a single echo chamber, and we expect they will frequently disagree with each other, and with us.

We expect too that they’re going to have different styles and approaches. Some will be driven by anecdote and opinion; others by data and analysis. These columns are going to bend genres a bit.

One final point. This is an experiment. In many cases, our insiders are not professional writers. Some of the copy may be a bit rough. Some of it might be a little dense. Our theory is that’s a small tradeoff for the what our insiders can offer. But there’s no tradeoff required in our debut insider column (Saltz is an English teacher, and it shows).