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

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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Getting the news — up close

The first time my journalism students tried talking about Donald Trump’s “grab her by the. ..” — well, you know — moment, the men in class could not get out the words — afraid to embarrass and offend their female classmates.

From my latest media innovation in the Tribune-Review: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/11671977-74/moments-election-media

From my latest media innovation in the Tribune-Review: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/11671977-74/moments-election-media

After a week or so, everyone in class had accepted the phrase as part of our new national lexicon and they discussed it freely (although it remains too indelicate to publish here).

With the daily crush of information and social media technology that connects and exposes us in new ways, it’s easy to forget how many groundbreaking moments happen all of the time. We crossed several significant thresholds in the way we communicate during 2016.

In some cases, words and moments that once seemed too offensive turned into the daily discussions. At other moments, technology broke new ground by revealing startling new ways of sharing information.

Here’s list of the tradition-shattering moments from the past year: Continue reading

Post-print news age

dt-common-streams-streamserverIt’s time to fully embrace the post-print news age. Newspapers no longer need to be ink-on-paper to be relevant – and in fact, they might be more dynamic in a digital format. This was a revelation to me when I started reading word content (we need a better way of saying this) on my iPad. Doubt it? Just check out the National Geographic app.

Any way, that’s the topic of my latest column. Plus my wife doesn’t mind that we no longer have ink smudges on all the walls of our home.

I love getting ink on my fingers and then leaving smudges on the walls of my house. Sunday mornings are perfect with a pile of newspapers at the breakfast table. And it’s reassuring even to hear plastic-bagged newspapers hitting the driveway in the early morning on a cool night with the windows open.

But if these are the confessions of a print newsman, I must admit that I also love reading the news on my iPad too. News media experts have predicted a shift to digital news delivery for decades. Some thought the paper would come into homes as a daily fax and others imagined flexible digital paper that updates automatically.

For the moment, it has turned out to be mobile-first devices, such as tablets and phones, that have replaced newsprint for growing numbers of readers.

Even so, most people — even a vast majority of young ones — want the news… Read more.

 

Forget newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet

Forget newspapers. And the television. The radio. The Internet. All of it.

dt-common-streams-streamserverThat’s how I start out my latest media innovation column. Of course, I don’t mean forget newspapers. I’ll still take the paper as long as someone will deliver it. But in this new rapidly evolving age, the stories matter more than the medium.

It has been a whirlwind opening to the Center for Media Innovation. We have featured top journalists from a variety of publications, both local and national. They included three Pulitzer prize winners. The co-creator of the Serial podcast. And the always emotional voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers. We had a presenter from the oldest newspaper west of the Alleghenies and The Incline, an online publication that launched hours before its editor spoke on campus. Cutting edge!

We have had a ton of positive social and traditional media coverage. Here are a few of the links (with commentary by Point Park’s Lou Corsaro)…

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, fittingly, took a unique route, combining a writeup with videos and social media to mark the occasion. I highly recommend taking in everything here. 

WESA did a writeup online, also noting that the day marked the premiere of The Incline in Pittsburgh. Incline Editor Lexi Belculfine also was part of our afternoon media panel

Anchor Michelle Wright, who took part in the morning media panel, was posting on social media through the day, and mentioned the CMI opening from her WTAE desk before heading over. 

KDKA Radio’s James Garrity, who was very excited about the CMI, offered two different news items for the air: Here and here.  

And we have had tons of social media… 

 

 You also can find all of the events on our YouTube page

 

Presidential race raises questions about objectivity

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.40.37 AMThis presidential news cycle seems to be making history — no matter who you support.

It’s also forcing journalists to rethink the way they cover political races. For a long time, reporters sought objectivity by simply giving candidates equal time. I make the case in my monthly media column that’s no longer the case. Reporters need to be critical thinkers, ask tough questions and sort out reality from fiction.

Let me know in the comments section what you think…

Both sides are not the only side during this deeply vexing presidential election cycle.

Journalism schools have educated students for generations that political objectivity starts with presenting equal information from every candidate. If a journalist quotes a Democrat on a particular topic, the journalist also should find out what the Republican has to say.

But the pursuit of that kind of objectivity has come under fire. Some see blind attempts at objectivity has a cop-out against critical thinking.

By simply giving each side a chance to comment — without considering the veracity of those words – journalists can abdicate their central role of presenting the truth. Read more…

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