Newspapers need to be more nimble

My latest media innovation column focuses on the upstart companies that curate or aggregate the news from other sites, adding their own slant or original reporting. The people behind these sites have a lot of different approaches and many of them seem to be making money. They largely depend on original reporting from other sources.

An editor at the Tribune-Review wrote the headline: “News aggregators need newspapers.” From my perspective, the newspaper could have said just as easily and accurately…

“Newspapers need to be more nimble.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 11.41.14 AMAdam Shuck started out two years ago this month with an email to 30 friends, sending them links to Pittsburgh news stories and offering his unique perspective.

He had no formal journalism training but his daily newsletter, “Eat That, Read This,” turned out to be popular. He now has 4,700 subscribers, sells advertisements and has turned writing the emails into a full-time job.

Shuck faithfully credits the original news sources and spreads around links to various media outlets.

He occasionally takes aim at journalists, too. Continue reading here.

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Ransomware goes rogue

It’s bad when hackers lock up computers and hold them for ransom — but it’s about to get a whole lot worse. My first freelance article for the Tribune-Review delves into this frightening new world where hackers don’t want your bitcoin and they’re interested in deleting more than your files…

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As bad as it seemed when hackers locked up computer systems at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in February, demanding a $17,000 ransom, the attack could have been much worse, experts tell the Tribune-Review.

The cybercriminals used so-called ransomware that seeks victims through emails and websites, then locks their computer equipment until they pay a ransom.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer-1When a victim pays the ransom — typically in digital bitcoins — the thieves provide a digital key to unlock the system. Yet hackers who aren’t motivated by money could refuse to offer a key, said Brian Nussbaum, a former security intelligence analyst who teaches computer security at State University of New York at Albany.

“There is certainly the potential for you to have organizations where the data is simply gone,” Nussbaum said. Read the full story here.

Journalism is changing — and I want to be part of it

I spoke recently with Essential Pittsburgh on Pittsburgh’s NPR station 90.5 WESA-FM about the future of journalism. This is what they took away from our discussion…

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.25.40 AMFormer Pittsburgh Tribune-Review investigative reporter Andrew Conte knows newspapers. The industry is not dying, he said.

As the new director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, Conte — still a monthly columnist — is using his delight for an evolving craft to help prepare aspiring storytellers.

“Journalism is changing, and I wanted to be a part of helping figure out that change for our broader audience,” Conte told Essential Pittsburgh on Friday. See the whole story and listen to the interview here.

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Sneak peak: Center for Media Innovation

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We hosted a tour of the Center for Media Innovation with several Point Park alumni and members of the local media clubs.

It seems like everyone has a great idea for saving journalism — and I’m loving it. Ever since taking over as director of the new Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, I have been swamped with proposals for new projects. People are pumped for good journalism and for making sure young people still see a bright future in this profession.

At the same time, walls are going up! I have been in the Center almost daily over the past couple of weeks and it’s great to see the place coming together, moving from the paper designs to actual plasterboard and glass. Every week brings some new development: The news ticker has arrived!

We recently hosted a tour of the Center for several Point Park alumni and leaders of the local media clubs — including Kim Palmiero, president of the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, Tory Parrish, president of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, and Stacey Federoff, president of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh.

We are on schedule to open for the fall semester.

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Finding value in journalism

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsMy first media column was inspired by meeting Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU in Michigan. Curt discovered officials in Flint, Mich., had not treated the drinking water properly, leading to high levels of lead. He figured it out the old-fashioned way — talking to citizens, asking tough questions and refusing to accept the wrong answers.

Especially in this age of instant news, journalism remains too important to neglect. Too often, news outlets have devalued their products by giving away information. My goals at the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University are reminding the public about the valuable roles of an independent press, while helping journalists — newly minted and cynically old — figure out the paths forward.

Take a moment to check out the column: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/10457846-74/media-journalists-pay

Hidden talent at the NFL draft

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Photo credit: Pittsburgh Steelers.

Everyone focuses on the drama of the NFL’s first round but the real magic happens in the late rounds. The Steelers have been better than almost anyone at finding talented players in the late rounds. I penned this blog post for my publisher Blue River Press…

Championships are made in the late rounds.

Everyone knows about the first-round picks, the guys sitting in the green room waiting for their name to be called. The only suspense centers on what team exactly will choose them — not whether anyone will.

Many NFL insiders knew about “Mean” Joe Greene… Read the rest here.

A plaque honoring scout Bill Nunn Jr. hangs outside the Steelers' draft room on Pittsburgh's South Side. Photo credit: Andrew Conte.

A plaque honoring scout Bill Nunn Jr. hangs outside the Steelers’ draft room on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Photo credit: Andrew Conte.

New adventures

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I’m pleased to announce that Point Park University has hired me to run its new Center for Media Innovation. This unique facility in the heart of Downtown will train the next generations of journalists, while helping today’s professionals keep up with a rapidly changing industry. I hope too that we will engage with the public in a way that reminds people about the important role of a robust, independent media.

Here I am talking about the Center for Media Innovation at our ground-breaking event in October 2015.

Here I am talking about the Center for Media Innovation at our ground-breaking event in October 2015.

I first came to Point Park in 2005 to create its Point Park News Service, a program that helps students find professional outlets for their best work. Since then, the University and I have grown tremendously. This new Center will help us both to keep moving forward.

For 15 years, the Tribune-Review has been my home and work family. My friend Rob Rossi wrote this moving tribute about my time at the paper. Fortunately, I will continue to have a presence there as well. I will be writing a regular column on media innovation and my byline will continue to appear on stories related to cybersecurity and other enterprise topics.

The Center will officially open in September 2016. Point Park has posted a story on my new position, and the Globe offered its take. The Trib has a nice story too. The Pittsburgh Business Times covered it. And so did WESA-FM, which conducted an interview with me:

“There is a lot of disruption going on, but there’s also a need to remind people of the strong value of what journalists do: holding people accountable, speaking up for those without a voice,” Conte said.