Getting the news — up close

The first time my journalism students tried talking about Donald Trump’s “grab her by the. ..” — well, you know — moment, the men in class could not get out the words — afraid to embarrass and offend their female classmates.

From my latest media innovation in the Tribune-Review: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/11671977-74/moments-election-media

From my latest media innovation in the Tribune-Review: http://triblive.com/opinion/featuredcommentary/11671977-74/moments-election-media

After a week or so, everyone in class had accepted the phrase as part of our new national lexicon and they discussed it freely (although it remains too indelicate to publish here).

With the daily crush of information and social media technology that connects and exposes us in new ways, it’s easy to forget how many groundbreaking moments happen all of the time. We crossed several significant thresholds in the way we communicate during 2016.

In some cases, words and moments that once seemed too offensive turned into the daily discussions. At other moments, technology broke new ground by revealing startling new ways of sharing information.

Here’s list of the tradition-shattering moments from the past year: Continue reading

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Why Nutella?

nutellaJif crunchy peanut butter would have felt much more threatening, right? Like, how did this ISIS fighter in Syria get his hands on the most-American of sandwich spreads? Instead, the guy went for Nutella. Don’t get me wrong. I love Nutella. But that’s more of a threat to Italians maybe. Europhiles, for sure. ProdAdminImageRegardless, my latest cyber story looks at jihadist fighters using Twitter to taunt the United States and Europe from the frontlines of the battle.

As an aside, the New York Post had this take on an ISIS fighter mourning Robin Williams’ death. These guys might be fighting Western culture — but they also are deeply embedded in it.

My story…
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One British fighter mockingly says he was so upset about American bombing raids on jihadists like himself in northern Iraq that he took a selfie while buying Nutella to “comfort my brittle heart.”

Another jihadist, dressed in black, posed for a photo with a young boy dressed likewise, adding a hashtag about swapping PlayStation video games for a real gun. Others posted images of American equipment left behind in Iraq, inviting troops to return.

Online taunts might seem glib, but fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — or now simply the Islamic State — have a growing desire to strike in the United States and Europe as a result of bombing to support Kurdish fighters, security experts told the Tribune-Review. Read more.

Gutting out a Christmas story

Every reporter knows that feeling of coming up against deadline without a story. Point Park student reporter Emily Balser dealt with that pressure by following her gut instincts. She wandered into this Blawnox restaurant and found a nice holiday story. The piece ran in today’s Tribune-Review, and another version appeared on the Point Park News Service.

Spirit of Christmas volunteers prepare for the start of a fundraiser at Bob’s Garage Lounge in Blawnox on Dec. 7. From left: Heidi Corwin, Norma Marencik and Bob's Garage bartenders Melissa McKown and Geneva King.

Spirit of Christmas volunteers prepare for the start of a fundraiser at Bob’s Garage Lounge in Blawnox on Dec. 7. From left: Heidi Corwin, Norma Marencik and Bob’s Garage bartenders Melissa McKown and Geneva King.

Bob Paganico spends about $2,200 a year to transform his Blawnox eatery into a spectacle of lights and ornaments for the Spirit of Christmas, a nonprofit that raises $50,000 yearly to donate gifts to children in need.

Bob’s Garage Lounge on Freeport Road has become known for its elaborate Christmas decorations — lights, garland and ornaments to attract customers and their charitable donations throughout December.

“You’d be surprised at how many grandparents and mothers and dads say, ‘This is all they have,’ ” Paganico said of the gifts his team distributes on Christmas Eve.

Photo 3Paganico hosts 50/50 raffles, prize giveaways and celebrity guest bartenders at the lounge during the fundraising drive. This year’s bartenders include Craig Patrick, former Penguins general manager, and Bill Hillgrove, play-by-play announcer for the Steelers and University of Pittsburgh.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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