Disruption sows seeds of opportunity

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 3.21.31 PMWe celebrated the CMI’s one-year anniversary by focusing on #MediaPioneers who are doing something truly new and different. The disruption that has run through the media industry has caused a lot of pain and caused all of us to rethink how we value news and access it. But it also has created opportunities that never existed before. For my latest media column, I focused on some of these people who are doing truly exciting work – and starting figure out ways to pay their bills.

 

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Frank Murgia, executive producer at the Pittsburgh Podcast Network, discusses the YaJagoff podcast and how it’s starting to make money.

“YaJagoff” can express exasperation or endearment, as any Pittsburgher knows. But John Chamberlin also sees it as his brand.

He hosts the YaJagoff Podcast , and as the name implies, he focuses on all things “yinzer,” from pierogies to basement potties. It is one of five core offerings from the Pittsburgh Podcast Network, which has started making money in its fourth year, executive producer Frank Murgia recently told me.

“It finally feels like it’s a real thing and we’re starting to see opportunities,” he said.

Recent years’ disruption that has shaken news companies also has produced media pioneers. Large outlets are becoming nimble by experimenting with innovative platforms and content. Startups are redefining the industry with concepts no one has tried. This energy creates opportunities for older journalists seeking to rediscover the craft and for students who want to engage in storytelling and try something new. Read more…

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AmyJo Brown, founding editor of new media startup Grant’s Hill, talks about her business plan.

 

 

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It’s a small world … on my iPhone

Photo by Tania Conte.

Getting away used to be so easy. But in a world where even forest monks carry smartphones tucked inside their saffron-colored robes, it can be hard to get off the grid. My latest column looks at this phenomenon from the perspective of a recent trip to Thailand.

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — I’ve been checking my emails here only once a day, like it’s the 1990s all over again.

For many Americans, a great part of traveling in Asia is not receiving any messages during the day because almost everyone you know — halfway around the world, back home — is asleep. I wake up, read the overnight messages and forget about email. If only this could last.

Even that disconnected luxury goes only so far when almost half the world’s population accesses the internet , and even forest monks at a remote mountain temple carry smartphones tucked into their saffron-colored robes. Along a narrow canal an hour outside of Bangkok, we passed a small wooden shack with open-air windows — and a 60-inch TV mounted inside the front door. Neighbors had sealed up their homes and installed air conditioners.

Everyone, it seems, hungers for the same cutting-edge technology, instant connectivity and modern convenience. That drive holds exciting promise for bringing us together, and perhaps a little danger for our demands on the planet as well. Read more…

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood: Mr. McFeely

Nice surprise to meet David Newell, aka Mr. McFeely, in the CMI today. He’s here for Steve Cuden’s StoryBeat podcast. In real life, of course, he looks totally different than on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Sounds the same though. You can’t hear it here but he was giving me a, “Speedy delivery!”

Is it getting faster in here?

Kids have no idea! That’s the theme of my latest column. I spent some time thinking about how much work it used to take to make a video. Now Facebook (or Google, Videolicious, Snapchat, etc.) does all of the heavy lifting so we can focus on being creative. That already means that we see so much more content – and higher quality videos too. Hope you enjoy…

Just for fun, I recently created a video of my beach vacation, posted it to Facebook and shared it with the world.

The entire production process took about 30 seconds and I reached hundreds of my “friends” online.

Doing the same thing 20 years ago, when I was in journalism school, would have taken far longer, moving images from one analog tape to another with a large and expensive editing bay. Sharing my work with the world? Almost impossible.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this summer , it’s worth taking some time to reflect on how quickly our world keeps changing — and considering whether we’re capable of keeping up. Read more…

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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