Philadelphia News Startup Looks For Ideas City Should 'Steal'

The Philadelphia Citizen is pushing for a break from "business-as-usual."
The Philadelphia skyline.
The Philadelphia skyline.

For any city to succeed, it cannot limit itself to ideas originating from within its borders. One non-profit news startup in Philadelphia is taking that idea to heart.

Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Citizen launched “Ideas We Should Steal,” a series that highlights successful initiatives, programs and philosophies that originated elsewhere and considers whether that success could be replicated in the City of Brotherly Love. 

One recent post by Emma Eisenberg features a New York plan for the city’s judges to eliminate bail for some “low risk” defendants accused of non-violent misdemeanors. Instead of being forced to pay a bond, they would be supervised and connected with services. Unveiled in July, the initiative aims to reduce prison overcrowding and save the state money. 

A similar program might already be in the works in Philadelphia. Eisenberg notes that the city was among 20 cities nationwide to receive a MacArthur Foundation grant to address crowded prisons. A coordinating committee has been tasked with creating a plan to present to the foundation, which will then select up to 10 cities to receive additional funding.

In other posts, the series considers whether open primary voting, zero-based budgeting and a literacy campaign modeled after a successful Cuban initiative could work in Philadelphia. 

The series is part of the Citizen’s approach to solutions-based journalism. According to its website, the media organization “seek[s] fixes to what ails the city, shine a light on our city’s change agents and demand a new way of thinking from the business-as-usual crowd.”


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