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

New adventures

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I’m pleased to announce that Point Park University has hired me to run its new Center for Media Innovation. This unique facility in the heart of Downtown will train the next generations of journalists, while helping today’s professionals keep up with a rapidly changing industry. I hope too that we will engage with the public in a way that reminds people about the important role of a robust, independent media.

Here I am talking about the Center for Media Innovation at our ground-breaking event in October 2015.

Here I am talking about the Center for Media Innovation at our ground-breaking event in October 2015.

I first came to Point Park in 2005 to create its Point Park News Service, a program that helps students find professional outlets for their best work. Since then, the University and I have grown tremendously. This new Center will help us both to keep moving forward.

For 15 years, the Tribune-Review has been my home and work family. My friend Rob Rossi wrote this moving tribute about my time at the paper. Fortunately, I will continue to have a presence there as well. I will be writing a regular column on media innovation and my byline will continue to appear on stories related to cybersecurity and other enterprise topics.

The Center will officially open in September 2016. Point Park has posted a story on my new position, and the Globe offered its take. The Trib has a nice story too. The Pittsburgh Business Times covered it. And so did WESA-FM, which conducted an interview with me:

“There is a lot of disruption going on, but there’s also a need to remind people of the strong value of what journalists do: holding people accountable, speaking up for those without a voice,” Conte said.

“He could see the full picture…”

The Tribune-Review featured The Color of Sundays with a full-page story and excerpt…

Trib NunnWhen the Steelers were in the midst of winning four Super Bowls the 1970s, credit was given to the players, coaches and owners. But one of the most important men contributing to the team’s success remained in the background.

According to Andrew Conte, author of “The Color of Sundays: The Secret Strategy That Built the Steelers’ Dynasty” (Blue River Press, $25), scout Bill Nunn Jr. arguably was as essential as Chuck Noll, Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann. Nunn’s ability to find talent at small black schools brought Mel Blount, Donnie Shell, John Stallworth, L.C. Greenwood and Glenn Edwards to the Steelers.

“I think the key factor to them winning their first four Super Bowls was their willingness to go out and try these players nobody else was looking at,” said Conte, a reporter with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Just look at the defensive line. … Without Nunn, you get (Joe) Greene but not Greenwood. You don’t get Stallworth in the ’74 draft. You don’t get Donnie Shell. You don’t get Glenn Edwards. You don’t get Sam Davis.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/-topstories/9171892-74/nunn-steelers-conte#ixzz3nazfiLPz

Launch party 6 p.m., Tuesday, Clark Bar & Grill

The Inside Job

cyber logoAs journalists, we often report on secret meetings — closed to everyone but the participants. I dedicated “Breakway” to “anyone who has ever wondered what happens behind closed doors.” I did that mostly because I always wonder what decisions are made and deals reached behind closed doors.

For my latest assignment, I actually got to go behind closed doors. I went behind armed guards too. The U.S. Army War College permitted me to attend a policy planning session on “Cyber Sovereignty.” The three-day workshop brought together top minds from all branches of the military, from the private sector and from academia.

The event allowed me to provide readers of the Tribune-Review exclusive access to these deliberations about the future of our nation’s cybersecurity. I also discussed my findings on 90.5 WESA-FM, Pittsburgh’s NPR station.

My stories…

Infrastructure ‘legitimate target’ in battle for cyber supremacy

Summer Fowler

Summer Fowler

When Summer Fowler goes to sleep, the Cranberry mother of three knows computer hackers around the world are working through the night to undo the defenses she spends her days building.

Fowler, 37, is deputy technical director for cybersecurity solutions at CERT, the nation’s first computer emergency response team, at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. She works with Pentagon soldiers, intelligence directors and corporate titans to help them identify key electronic assets, secure them from cyber attacks and plan for what happens if someone steals them.

But at the end of the day, once her children are tucked into bed, Fowler wonders what the impact would be from a real cyber 9/11 attack…Read more.

How Pittsburgh invented computer emergency response

Richard Pethia

Richard Pethia

Pittsburgh’s prominent and growing role as a national center for cybersecurity started with a chance encounter more than 25 years ago.

On Nov. 2, 1988, researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, were ending the workday when calls started coming in from across the country. Something was slowing computer connections on the early Internet — moving freely, guessing passwords to break into systems, accessing files and quickly replicating.

About 60,000 people were connected to the infant web in those days, and many knew each other. The idea had been to build a network for military operations and research that could withstand attacks on any one or two individual computers.

But as the so-called Morris worm spread, questions about security quickly arose. The first computer virus had been unleashed…Read more.

Sony hack redefines online warfare

0212151306a-1CARLISLE — Rarely has a raunchy movie done so much to change the world.

When hackers broke into computer systems at Sony Pictures Entertainment in a failed attempt to stop the release of “The Interview” late last year, the cyberattack changed the way top American military policymakers look at online warfare, experts say.

Electronic skirmishes that had played out quietly among computer technicians at a hacked company and a federal agency contacted for advice instead went all the way to the Oval Office, as President Obama blamed the Sony incident on a nation-state attack by North Korea. Read more.

Intelligence agency to battle online threats

CARLISLE — If President Obama’s proposed new agency to coordinate federal cybersecurity efforts leads to increased information sharing among government agencies and private companies, that will improve defenses against hack attacks all around, experts gathered here this week said. Read more.

Chinese takeout

Looking at Chinese military hacking, we figured out that they were using free email services backed by American investors. By way of the Cayman Islands. It’s a little complicated but I was able to work Wang Dong into the story…

Chinese hackers

American investors are unknowingly making it easier for Chinese hackers and other online criminals to hide from authorities here, the Tribune-Review has learned.

Continue reading

Bringing home the hardware…

It’s great to win journalism awards — but I’m finding it’s sweeter still to see students and former students picking them up. It’s awards season, and I have been watching many of my former students getting lots of hardware.

Three reporters from the Point Park News Service picked up top prizes from the Pennsylvania Women’s Press Association — Emily Balser in first, Megan Guza in second and Brian Reed with an honorable mention. (It’s worth noting that a Penn State reporter came in third).

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Megan Guza, Emily Balser and me.

The Trib did very well this season too. The Pennsylvania Society of Professional Journalists named the Trib the state’s top paper, gave us the top two prizes for spot news and awarded Luis Fabregas and me with the Spotlight Award, the top overall prize for journalists in the state. We had many other winners as well.

Because only a couple other Tribbers showed up in State College for the awards ceremony, I got to bring home all of the glory…

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Organizers of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists handing over all of the hardware.

 

 

 

Cool but creepy future

Companies understand the delicate balance between collecting detailed information on shoppers — and revealing how much they know or what they do with it. Jon Iwata, an IBM vice president, talks about it as the continuum between privacy and convenience, similar to the government one between security and civil liberty. To understand companies’ reticence, note that few responded to my request for information…

The Trib's great Andy Russell took this photo of Erin Price. Funny back story: He set up the photo because it looks great -- and only realized after talking with Erin how steps play into her exercise routine. That coincidence makes for a great illustration.

The Trib’s great Andy Russell took this photo of Erin Price. Funny back story: He set up the photo because it looks great — and only realized after talking with Erin how steps play into her exercise routine. That coincidence makes for a great illustration.

Giant Eagle won’t say much about the information it collects on people who enroll in its rewards program to earn savings on food and fuel, but it knows who has a weakness for Goldfish crackers.

GNC can see when your New Year’s resolution ended. And Dick’s Sporting Goods has a pretty good idea who will return to its stores this spring to gear up for baseball or softball season.

Consumers willingly — if unwittingly — provide trillions of “data points” to companies about their purchases, intimate habits and even where a computer mouse hovers on a computer screen without clicking. Americans worried about government spying often have themselves to blame when it comes to private-sector monitoring, experts said.

Read more about this story. Check out our entire Cyber Rattling series here.