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…

Advertisements

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…

 

It’s a small world…

How small is the world after all? I creeped up on this guy wearing a Trib Total Media Pirates shirt near the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan outside of Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY – The strange car pulled up outside of our rental house at 4:30 a.m.

None of us in my family of four knew the driver, but we walked up to the Volkswagen in the early morning darkness, handed the man our luggage and climbed inside.

We felt comfortable riding with our Uber driver even in the middle of the night. He has a rating of 4.83 out of 5 possible stars, has been driving for the past year and has received 83 rider compliments for excellent service. Other customers had spoken up and validated him. Besides, we knew that Uber would track the path of our ride.

We often think in the United States about how technology makes simple tasks easier, but here smartphone apps and other innovations of the so-called sharing economy also have made life safer while creating new job opportunities. The sharing economy refers to businesses in which people loan out their homes, vehicles and other possessions to strangers who are willing to pay for their use. Read more…

Book review: ‘Clemente’ tells story bigger than baseball

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-52-42-amThe Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote a colorful review of my latest book, “All About Roberto Clemente.” They noted that the book spends a lot more time talking about Clemente, the human being — and not just his activity as a ballplayer. An excerpt:

Those who saw Clemente play will never forget his laser-like throws from right field that froze baserunners, or his daring moves on the basepaths. But Conte’s book gives as much if not more time to Roberto Clemente the human being.

Read the full review here.

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…

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 11.39.54 AM