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

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From Flint to Your Faucet

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I always drink water straight from the tap. But lately I’ve been wondering whether that’s such a good idea. A recent event at Point Park University confirmed that I have good reason to be concerned.

We hosted a discussion on March 15 to mark the university’s new partnership with the Heinz Endowments on an environmental journalism program. This is an initiative I brought to Point Park after Heinz expressed an interest in helping us prepare students to cover environmental topics.

1690533_568538539976416_5963896699452129604_nFor the kickoff, we invited Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU in Michigan. I know, right? He’s the only one in that position, under a Ford Foundation grant to examine Michigan’s emergency manager law. He has been the lead reporter on uncovering the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Based on his reporting, you really can’t tell who to trust when it comes to the quality of water flowing out of your faucet.

After I led Curt through a Q&A on stage, we convened a panel that included Kathy Knauer from The Allegheny Front, Myron Arnowitt, state director of Clean Water Action, and Brentin Mock, reporter for The Atlantic’s CityLab.com.

Many thanks to our co-sponsors at the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, the Black Media Federation of Pittsburgh and Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh.

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