Modern storytelling where coal was king

Worried about the future of storytelling? Take a trip down to Connellsville. Yes, that Connellsville. The kids there are onto something great with the help of their pioneering teachers. They are pushing hard into the future – and they’re taking the whole school with them. I recently visited and wrote my latest media column based on the experience. Check it out…

Ask Jacob Kern about healthy eating, and the Connellsville High School junior can drop lines to a rap song about chasing water rather than soda or trans fats.

He wrote the lyrics and recorded them for his health class. Students here have created thousands of media projects this school year on everything from the laws of physics to the Spanish-American War.

Kern, 17, a media intern at the school, said the unconventional assignment helped him understand the material: “I like it a lot more than the traditional reading books. It’s stuck in my head.”

While media innovators largely focus on the latest social trends and tools for communicating to the masses, cutting-edge educators are driving their own classroom revolution with new digital tools — video, audio recordings, the internet and more. Technology is “relevant to their life,” Justin Aglio, Montour School District director of innovation , told me. “Students will engage things that are relevant to them.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/12329357-74/digital-tools-connect-with-tech-savvy-students

Back to school!

I have been heading back to elementary school recently to talk about Roberto Clemente. Students at Mt. Lebanon’s Foster Elementary and Ligonier Valley’s R.K. Mellon Elementary have been so awesome. It’s a testament to the teachers that the students are so enthusiastic about writing! Gives me hope for the future.

If anyone else is interested in having me speak with their students, let me know: andrew.c.conte@gmail.com.

Grinding it out in ink

Newly minted Pulitzer winners seemed to be everywhere at the recent Scripps Howard Awards’ VIP reception in Cincinnati. I was fortunate to spend time with two of them.

One, Daniel Berehulak of The New York Times, spent weeks last year in the Philippines to chronicle President Duterte’s brutal “war on drugs.” I had been moved by the series when it ran, and it was fascinating to hear Berehulak talk about the experience. His images, like the one below, are graphic, disturbing and beautiful…

 

The other, Eric Eyre of The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia, impressed me for how unaffected he seemed by all of the Pulitzer hype. He represents the best of so many journalists I have known over the years, grinding out stories every day with the goal of having a positive impact on their community. He landed the story of his career by exposing just how many prescription opioids are pouring into West Virginia (spoiler alert: it’s a lot!).

Eric was kind enough to share more time with me after I returned to Pittsburgh. I featured his work in this month’s media innovation column

Eric Eyre always thought reporters had to write something like a nine-part series to win a Pulitzer Prize. It turns out all he had to do was keep grinding.

Eyre, 51, figures he writes about 250 stories a year as a statehouse reporter for West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette-Mail newspaper, circulation 37,000. He files a story almost every day, and another for the Sunday edition. Once a month, he works the night cops beat.

A couple of stories Eyre wrote in December changed the pace of his work, for now.

Read more here.

MTL Finish Lines

You know you’ve made it when MTL, Mt. Lebanon’s community magazine, does a feature on you. And then when they send out Pulitzer-winner Martha Rial to take the portrait photo.

This part of the story got cut out, but I’ll say it here: None of what I do is possible without the support and love of my wife, Tania, and our children, Noah and Claudia. Plus, Tania is the real star of Mt. Lebanon – positively impacting the lives of hundreds of children each week as a Spanish teacher at Howe and Foster elementary schools.

Click here to read the full story. 

Young journalists engage for Trump era

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-1-32-01-pmMy latest column is a call to arms for young journalists. We’ve heard a lot about professionals getting fired up about covering the Trump administration. But it should be noted that young people are feeling it too — even if they’re not heading to Washington. Fact is, there are great stories all around and accountability to be demanded at every level. My column…

President Trump calls the media “the enemy of the American people,” and now the young journalists I know are ready to go to war.

They’re not out to fight their fellow citizens, of course. Instead, they feel emboldened to hold power accountable — Trump, other elected officials, corporations, business executives — and want to tell honest stories about Washington affecting and ignoring people. I asked my students about how Trump’s animosity influences their career goals. They had ready answers:

• “It’s pushing me to make sure my stories are as credible and accurate as they can be. There’s no room for fake news.”

• “I won’t read editorials and opinion any more. I just read hard news.”

• “Now with everything going on, I feel like I need to be in the loop.”

• “It’s just really important to get the facts because who knows what are the facts and the alternate facts?” Read more…

One note: A reader wrote me after this appeared to say I was engaging in fake news by saying Trump declared war on all the media — rather than just the ones he deems “fake.” I deleted the email rather than respond. But let me note here that Trump’s tweet specifically mentioned the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN. This an attack on THE MEDIA. For further evidence, see comments by chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, saying, “The media here is the opposition party.”

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Wheeling County library

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-1-32-46-pmI had a great time in Wheeling last week for a book talk and signing at the Ohio County Library. You never know when there’s going to be a reporter in the room, taking it all down. Turns out that The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register did a nice story on my visit. My favorite part…

Noting that other teams overlooked players from historically black colleges and universities, Conte remarked, “Think about how much talent was left on the table all those years.”

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