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December 17, 2015

Ryan Lawrence: Back on the Phillies beat at PhillyVoice

When you work in journalism for a dozen years - or even a year or two, really - you usually have to explain over and over (and over again) that you are actually not responsible for the headlines above your story, or for the cutlines under the photographs, too.

So if there’s a typo, or error, or something that sends a reader batty and immediately to their computer keyboard and email composition screen, and it’s in the headline, you have to explain this, time and time again. Of course this isn’t too much of a nuisance; in the current climate of the media, we should be thankful to have such a job.

If you’ve managed to read beyond the headline, you’ll first be approached by the byline. And, conversely, everything below the byline is the work of the writer, his or hers responsibility, open for both praise and criticism from the aforementioned readers.

And now, as we enter the fourth paragraph of this story, we’ve reached the part in this journalism lesson where we should talk about what “burying the lede” means. Burying the lede isn’t a good thing. It’s the practice of failing to begin your story with the most important, newsworthy piece of information.

So here’s the buried lede, a news item you may have been able to break on your own if you carefully examined the byline: after the holidays, I will begin my ninth season on the Phillies beat at PhillyVoice.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to join a growing, talented group of writers and reporters, guys like John Kopp, who I’ve previously worked with at the Delaware County Daily Times, and a sports staff with Matt Mullin, Rich Hofmann and Jimmy Kempski, who I’ve also crossed paths in recent years at the Philadelphia Daily News and

I didn’t necessarily want to be a free agent this winter, but, as with major league players who are non-tendered, released, or outrighted off the 40-man roster, it wasn’t anything personal. It’s just a business. You have to move on and make the most of the next opportunity. And that’s definitely what I plan to do here, on this website, offering you the same Phillies coverage you were accustomed to reading and following daily through social media (@ryanlawrence21 is alive and well!), while also creating new content that will keep it fresh and unique, too.

While considering a career path following last month’s massive layoffs at my former employer, I considered teaching. And others have encouraged it: “Hey, you have a master’s degree, go teach journalism at a college.”

My knee-jerk response to that has often been, “How can I honestly look journalism students in the eye and encourage them to work in this industry, given the 'gloom and doom' with newspapers slowly dying daily?" But, the need for news content will never go away, of course, and here will always be a home for hard-working writers and reporters. And PhillyVoice is that kind of place that is keeping strong journalism alive.

I’m very happy to be aboard. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to stay on the Phillies beat; if I ever left, I’d rather do it on my own terms.

And I apologize for burying the lede, but I was told way back when in journalism school that you should never insert yourself into the story, or make the story about you. But, I guess that was the point of this story. I won’t let it happen again, I promise.

See you in a couple of weeks.