I’m pleased to announce that I have won my first academic grant as part of my new life as a PhD student in Community Engagement. Point Park University awarded a Social Impact Grant for fellow student Keino Fitzpatrick and me to explore the role of media deserts in McKeesport, Pa. The city has a rich history of media coverage but it has not had a newspaper since the Daily News closed two years ago. We already have started some small work. This will allow us to continue and expand. We have been fortunate also to work with freelance journalist Jennifer Jordan, Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Martha Rial and the CMI’s grad assistant Ashley Murray.
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.
My 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.”
Roberto Clemente Jr. came by the Center for Media Innovation today. He was a huge help while I was working on the book, All About Roberto Clemente, and it was great to reconnect with him now that it’s finished. He has a great understanding of his father’s legacy and a vision for carrying it forward. Plus, he’s constantly thinking about Pittsburgh.
My friend Chris Rolinson made the visit possible. He and Roberto are working on ways to provide clean water to places in the Dominican and Africa where it’s needed. And yet I shamelessly cropped him out of the photo!
It’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. And the television. The radio. The Internet. All of it.
That’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.
And we have had tons of social media…
You also can find all of the events on our YouTube page…
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…
I spoke recently with Essential Pittsburgh on Pittsburgh’s NPR station 90.5 WESA-FM about the future of journalism. This is what they took away from our discussion…
“Journalism is changing, and I wanted to be a part of helping figure out that change for our broader audience,” Conte told Essential Pittsburgh on Friday. See the whole story and listen to the interview here.
It seems like everyone has a great idea for saving journalism — and I’m loving it. Ever since taking over as director of the new Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, I have been swamped with proposals for new projects. People are pumped for good journalism and for making sure young people still see a bright future in this profession.
At the same time, walls are going up! I have been in the Center almost daily over the past couple of weeks and it’s great to see the place coming together, moving from the paper designs to actual plasterboard and glass. Every week brings some new development: The news ticker has arrived!
We recently hosted a tour of the Center for several Point Park alumni and leaders of the local media clubs — including Kim Palmiero, president of the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, Tory Parrish, president of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, and Stacey Federoff, president of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh.
We are on schedule to open for the fall semester.
My 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