What happens when journalists become the story

Journalists often stand, correctly and confidently, behind the maxim that they want to tell stories – rather than be the story. 

But when Pittsburgh journalists Kim Palmiero and Carmen Gentile saw a tragedy unfolding as Afghanistan’s government collapsed in August, they responded to the news by getting involved. They worked to help journalist Zubair Babakarkhail and his family leave the country, and now they are helping them settle in Pittsburgh. 

The publishers of Postindustrial magazine had hoped to raise $10,000 for Zubair, but ended up with four times that amount. Now they are helping other Afghan families become American through Team Zubair. You can read more about this story here

While it’s not our role to become the story, some situations require all of us to do more. If you want to help Palmiero and Gentile, you can find out more about their fundraising effort here.

Read my full story about Zubair and Postindustrial here.

Newspaper strike could still bring big changes

I thought Pittsburgh’s most-recent newspaper strike might offer some clues about the potential for a new one. But local news has changed A LOT over the past 30 years. Obituaries on TV? News by fax machine? What even is a fax machine?

The biggest takeaway, however, remains the same: A newspaper strike could have major lasting impacts for how Pittsburghers find out about their city.

Check out my latest NEXTpittsburgh column…

Only we can say what lies ahead for local news

On this the day when the Post-Gazette drops two more days of print, my column looks at the responsibility each of us bears for supporting local news and information – or not.

The answers to these challenges, I think, live in each of us. What do we value as news consumers, and now as news generators? Where are we willing to pay for content, either with our attention or with our dollars? And when no journalists are left to create original content, what are we willing to generate on our own?

On Media: The answer to saving local journalism lives in us

She helped birth social media – and now worries about its future

We take social media for granted – so it was cool for me to spend some time with a Pittsburgh native who was there for its birth. Chris Shipley gets credit for hosting the first social media event, for popularizing the term and maybe for coining it. She now hosts Newsgeist (if you know, you’re in the know). And she’s back in the Steel City to work on a media startup called Sparkt. Now she worries about social media’s future. 
You can read about it all here in my latest column.

Counting up more than web clicks

Sure, web traffic can be an important way to gauge the success of an online news outlet. But it’s not the only one. My latest column considers the ways some Pittsburgh news outlets measure up.

On Media: How do Pittsburgh’s online news sites measure up?








Where the news comes together

I’ll have fries on that news item. Thanks to WESA-FM’s Kiley Koscinski for the great quote to explain how The Confluence both adds to the station’s news offerings – and does so in a uniquely Pittsburgh way: “We’re the French fries on top of the newsroom salad.” My latest column for NEXTpittsburgh

Behind the scenes: One of those great moments when a former colleague, Megan Harris, is mentoring a soon-to-be former student, Mick Stinelli.

Prognosis for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Hope for a cure

I ran into these guild members protesting John Robinson Block and the Post-Gazette outside of the Omni William Penn Hotel. The one on the left is my former graduate assistant, Ashley Murray.

Publisher John Robinson Block stopped short of saying the Post-Gazette is on life support, but he did compare the newspaper to a sick patient waiting for a cure. My latest NEXTpittsburgh column looks at the publisher’s comments for the present and future: https://www.nextpittsburgh.com/latest-news/on-media-like-a-sick-patient-post-gazette-holding-out-for-a-cure-publisher-says/.

The storytellers’ story

This has been a difficult week for all of Pittsburgh. For my journalism friends, it has been especially challenging. Most of them have been working long hours since Saturday’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. They are exhausted and emotionally shaken. I tried to use the media column this week to tell their story:

KDKA-TV reporter Andy Sheehan was doing live reports at the corner of Northumberland Street and Shady Avenue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday when Jeff Cohen from the Smallman Street Deli walked up with a corned beef sandwich.

Napoli’s sent over pizzas, and local residents brought cups of coffee and bottles of water for Sheehan and cameraman Fred Williams. Others let them come inside their homes to use the bathroom.

In the middle of a horrific tragedy — a gunman’s killing of 11 people and injuring of six others inside the Tree of Life Synagogue — Sheehan also found himself surrounded by his community. He lives just 300 yards from the synagogue.

“I know that neighborhood, where I was,” Sheehan told me later this week. “I know the congregation. I catch my bus in the morning right across from Tree of Life. I know the lay of the land, and I know the people who go there.” Read more…

Caught on camera: My conversation with James O’Keefe

James O’Keefe answering a question at the National First Amendment Conference. Photo courtesy of Duquesne University.

James O’Keefe? The name didn’t mean much to me a month ago. Now I know him well for his gotcha-style, undercover exposes. We sat down at the National First Amendment Conference at Duquesne University this week. My take…

If you like the column, please share.

Salena Zito, national politics writer, caught between James and me. Photo courtesy of Duquesne University.

The mixed-up politics of Pittsburgh’s newspapers

Perhaps you have wondered, What is up with the politics at Pittsburgh’s newspapers? My latest column seeks to shed some light. Plus, an exclusive interview with the Trib’s new community engagement editor.

It used to seem so black and white.

Pittsburghers counted on the Post-Gazette for left-leaning perspectives, while the Tribune-Review took up positions on the right.

In the supercharged political climate of our times, and with the midterm elections next month, it often seems the newspapers have flip-flopped positions. Families that once considered themselves aligned with one publication or the other suddenly find themselves bewildered and frustrated by the marked change in tone. Read more…