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Kim in the lead in tight N.J. race, Sixers pick up a new star | Morning Newsletter

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Sebastian Avila, center, encourages students to pledge to vote on Election Day next Tuesday at Temple University on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. The goal was to ensure a massive young voter turnout next week.
Sebastian Avila, center, encourages students to pledge to vote on Election Day next Tuesday at Temple University on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. The goal was to ensure a massive young voter turnout next week.Read moreHEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

Today we mark both Veterans Day and 100 years since the end of World War I. President Trump is in France today with French President Emmanuel Macron and dozens of other world leaders to acknowledge a century since the deadly war. Closer to home, we're dealing with the aftermath of Election Day as votes are still being counted in New Jersey's Third District. Meanwhile, we spoke with reporter Jonathan Lai about a special midterms project: texting about the issues with our readers.

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The week ahead

  1. Deadly wildfires continue to burn in Northern California. As of Saturday, the death toll had reached 23, but it seems likely to climb this week as officials continue searching for those missing.

  2. Officials are spending the weekend counting votes in New Jersey's Third District congressional race. Democrat Andy Kim is in the lead over incumbent Republican Tom MacArthur, but final results are expected this week.

  3. The Sixers traded for All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler yesterday and the fan base is excited, to say the least. He could be on the court as soon as Wednesday.

  4. In case you haven't been within earshot of an Eagles fan lately, tonight they face off against the Dallas Cowboys. Regardless of the outcome, you'll be hearing about it tomorrow. Until then, our beat writers are making their own predictions.

  5. Philadelphia Marathon weekend kicks off on Friday, so you can expect to see quite a few runners in town for the event's 25th anniversary. And, yes, there will be road closures.

This week’s most popular stories

Behind the story with Jonathan Lai

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week, reporter Jonathan Lai talks about the midterm elections and why he was texting Inquirer readers all week.

Leading up to the midterm elections, you were working on a brand-new text alert project and reporting on topics like youth voter turnout and absentee ballot policies. How did you juggle those responsibilities during the week before and on Election Day? Any self-care secrets? Lots of coffee?

I always keep a notebook on me and have several lists going, including tracking story ideas and every individual task that needs to go into it: Call X, check on Y, request Z data. As Election Day neared, I could keep momentum going by always being able to see what stories I had coming up and what I needed to do to make them happen. My big thing is to always take time for lunch, which I always eat with friends. Taking half an hour in the middle of the day to sit down, eat, and talk with friends helps keep me sane.

What is the biggest difference between covering key election issues via text versus, say, a traditional news article?

Texts are SO SHORT. How do you explain the Affordable Care Act or the Republican tax overhaul in just a sentence or two? Having to cut things down to the point where they are short but still informative was a huge challenge.

What were some of the most frequently asked questions you received from readers during the text alert project?

It seemed like people really wanted to go deeper and learn more about the issues, even outside of the election focus we were using. It was clear there was a desire to engage more on the issues we covered — guns, the economy, healthcare — which was pretty cool. A lot of people wanted to know where to find more information. Some wanted to know how to actually leverage this information into political action: Now that they understand an issue better, how do they use that to vote?

What's the most surprising thing you learned from the project? Would you do it again?

I'm mostly just happy people seemed to like it and it was helpful to some people. Making our work accessible is so important, and it's been really gratifying to hear from people who said the texts helped them. I wouldn't want to do the exact same thing again, because I think we should be constantly evolving, but I'd love to do something similar!

Contact Jonathan Lai at or on Twitter @elaijuh.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Feel free to send us this beautiful scene every season of the year, @gcit7689.

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we'll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

#CuriousPhilly: Have a question about your community? Ask us!

Have you submitted a question to Curious Philly yet? Try us. We're listening to our readers and doing our best to find answers to the things you're curious about.

Our readers' latest question: Pennsylvania residents have had access to a statewide medical marijuana program since February but how can anyone sign up?
The answer: The good news? It's so easy over 90,000 Pennsylvanians have registered. But there are several steps required before a patient can get cannabis meds from a dispensary.

What we’re…

  1. Baking: The perfect pie crust for the holidays. Shout out to our colleague Grace Dickinson for rounding up Philly pie experts to teach us some tips and tricks.

  2. Drinking: A cold one from Mainstay Independent Brewing Co. One of the area's top brewmasters is reinventing himself at this new brewery.

  3. Wondering: Whether to go see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory or Matilda at the Kimmel Center. Luckily, we've come up with a quiz to help you decide.

  4. Listening to: The Backstreet Boys, to get ready for their recently announced stop at the Wells Fargo Center this summer. They're releasing a new album and everything.

Comment of the week

I voted. 10 minute walk. 5 minute wait. 10 minute walk back. No coat. No rain. No problem. Vote everybody. Our tax money is at least on the line here. — satstevejohnson, on the importance of voting on Election Day.

Your Daily Dose of | Teamwork 

Leafy greens are the hottest snack at the Philadelphia Zoo now that they've teamed up with Camden County to use a hydroponic greenhouse to help feed the animals.