CMI 2020 Annual Report

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Learn more about the work of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University during 2019-2020. If you want to be the first to know what's happening at the CMI, sign up for our monthly email newsletters: tinyurl.com/CMInewsletters

Doris O’Donnell fellow pg 28

Annual Report

works with students

2020

LIVE!

FROM THE CMI

A Valid Podcast focus

on COVID-19 threat

pg 11

Tube City Writers

build community

pg 12 News media form

historic collaboration

pg 20

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MISSION

STATEMENT

The Center for Media Innovation at

Point Park University stimulates creative

thinking about the future of storytelling

among young people, professionals and

the public, focusing on narrative,

entrepreneurship and community

engagement.

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR

We Learned Something New

We founded the Center for Media Innovation on the idea

that storytellers must find new ways of communicating to

survive. The COVID-19 pandemic put this theory to the test,

and I’m pleased to say that we have found ourselves more

capable than we realized.

The coronavirus has ravaged a journalism industry already

suffering from more than a decade of heavy disruption,

leading to layoffs, buyouts, cutbacks and closures. But the

shutdowns caused by the virus also have inspired many

to try communicating in ways no one would have

attempted before.

At the CMI, we leaned into this moment to create new

programming and to deliver it in truly different ways.

When we had to cancel our annual in-person spring high

school media day, we decided to try reaching high school

students where they live, on social media. We launched a

series of nine videos with journalists, professors and other

high school students. The campus event would have drawn

130 people – but the video series touched more than 10,000.

We learned something new.

When the virus caused local TV affiliates to close their doors, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development reached out

to the CMI about taping their weekly Sunday morning business show in our studios. Then we shut down too. So we tried something

different – producing the entire show via Zoom video chat so it could be broadcast on WPXI-TV, the local NBC affiliate. The number

of average viewers grew by 20%.

We learned something new.

When social distancing meant that participants of the McKeesport Community Newsroom no longer could meet in person, we

worried they might lose contact with us and each other. Project Manager Martha Rial moved the meetings online, and the citizen

journalists continued to meet. She even brought in actor Tamara Tunie, a Mon Valley native, as a guest lecturer via video chat.

We learned something new.

No one would have wished for the COVID-19 pandemic to happen, and we all regret the immense pain it is causing in the lost lives,

jobs and opportunities. But this strange moment also challenged us all to bring out the best in ourselves and each other. We all

learned something new.

As you read through the pages of the CMI’s annual report, we hope you take time to reflect on the changes, for worse

and better, that the pandemic brought into your own life – and to feel some inspiration going forward.

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Andrew Conte

Director, Center for Media Innovation



CONTENTS

CMI Projects

All-Abilities Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

McKeesport Community Newsroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pittsburgh Media Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

On Media Pittsburgh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship . . . .

Outreach

Fall High School Media Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Spring High School Media Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

High School Workshops - Fall and Spring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Student Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Alumni Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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CONTACT US

Phone 412-392-8055

Physical Address 305 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222

Mailing Address 201 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222

Website pointpark.edu/cmi

Email cmi@pointpark.edu

Facebook facebook.com/PointParkCMI

Twitter @pointparkcmi

Youtube tinyurl.com/CMIYouTube

Newsletter Sign-Up tinyurl.com/CMINewsletters

Events

Media Innovators Speakers Series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Among Neighbors Podcast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Healing Hearts Podcast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Andy Grammer Visit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Mat Kearney Visit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Center for Media Innovation was founded in 2016 with generous support from the Allegheny

Foundation. Philanthropic support is critical and the CMI team is grateful to our project funders.

The Heinz Endowments & Henry L. Hillman Foundation

Pittsburgh Media Partnership

The Pittsburgh Foundation

McKeesport Community Newsroom

FISA Foundation, individual donors, and an anonymous trust

All Abilities Media Project

Allegheny Foundation

Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Reporting Fellowship

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Andrew Conte

Director

Lisa Knapp

Administrative assistant

AmyJo Brown

Project editor, Bridge Pittsburgh Media Partnership

Martha Rial

Project manager, McKeesport Community Newsroom

Jennifer Szweda Jordan

Project manager, All Abilities Media

Chris Hays

Project manager, Doris O’Donnell Fellowship

Stacey Federoff

Graduate assistant

Nick Ruff olo

Senior studio tech

Tyler Polk

Studio tech

Olivia Vaylo

Studio tech

Annual report

compiled and

designed by:

Kaitlyn LaBelle

Practicum student

4 5



All-Abilities Media

All-Abilities Media

Journalism For All

Project shifts the disability narrative

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan

The All-Abilities Media project is a

collaboration with Unabridged Press that is

funded by the FISA Foundation and another

local foundation that requests anonymity.

The growing team of creators who have

disabilities that we’ve educated host and

produce podcasts, videos, and written

work. While the central repository of the

content produced is unabridgedpress.com,

project work has also appeared on 90.5

WESA.

The investigative news site Public Source

also invited the All-Abilities team to work

with their Emmy-winning producer Ryan

Loew to produce a video for this year’s 30th

anniversary of the Americans with

Disabilities Act, published in summer 2020.

Our skills training has also helped members

of the team grow careers outside of the

project, successfully working in the

marketing sector.

This all comes just two years after we

invited people with disabilities to air

grievances about news coverage at an

event on the North Side with Public Source,

The Northside Chronicle and Storyburgh.

Grishman was a leading voice at that event,

sponsored by the Pittsburgh Media Partnership

(known then as Bridge Pittsburgh

Media Partnership).

Since that time, Grishman took part in an

All-Abilities podcast workshop and

immediately started working on a podcast

series about accessibility. Along with

another workshop participant, she

interviewed a Washington Post food critic

about restaurant accessibility in the nation’s

capital. Point Park students produced a

companion video.

Podcast workshops have been the central

feature of our All-Abilities work, and the way

we continue to bring in new producers and

talent. Through the pandemic, we’ve

educated participants virtually as well as

directing A Valid Podcast.

Grishman and I also joined in the Pittsburgh

Media Partnership’s strategizing session,

offering information about how to best

cover disabilities, particularly in this 30th

year of the ADA.

October 2019 was a particularly big month

for the project:

NPR’s veterans correspondent Quil

Lawrence took part in “Answers on the

Airwaves: Veterans, Disabilities,

Podcasting,” a roundtable discussing how

to tell stories about the veteran experience.

He was visiting Point Park as part of the

Media Innovators Speakers Series. Other

roundtable guests were Postindustrial’s

Carmen Gentile, Pittsburgh veteran Sean

Tyler, and (remotely) Military Veterans in

Journalism founder and CBS producer

Russell Midori.

Also in October, graduate assistant Stacey

Federoff led a Dis/Ability Symposium, in

which eight people with disabilities from

both campus and the wider community

spoke to packed rooms in the CMI about

their experiences. Watch and read the

stories from the event here.

“My favorite memory from the Dis/Ability

Symposium,” Federoff said, “was taking a

moment to look out into the audience of

attendees and speakers and seeing that

it was the most diverse – in gender, age,

ability and race/ethnicity – that I had ever

seen at an event in the CMI.”

Editors note: Project manager Jennifer

Szweda Jordan leads All-Abilities Media

in partnership with her media company,

Unabridged Press. The FISA Foundation, an

anonymous trust and individual

donors support this project.

Photo by Alex Collinger

The All-Abilities Media team filmed more than a dozen people with disabilities reading a key passage from the

Americans with Disabilities Act in our studios for the project ADA at 30: Accessibility in Pittsburgh, published by

PublicSource and Unabridged Press.

We’ve manifested some of our

greatest hopes for the All-Abilities Media

Project by helping to integrate people

with disabilities in a variety of campus and

professional media settings.

Most recently the All-Abilities Media team

responded to the pandemic quarantine

immediately by launching a live online

broadcast called “A Valid Podcast.” That

very first Monday when many businesses

closed, disability advocate Alisa

Grishman took to the mic as the podcast’s

lead analyst.

By day two, broadcast student Nick

Tommarello joined as a reporter and

Innovation staff edited and uploaded

episodes online. Among the first guests

were Partnership for Inclusive Disaster

Strategies’ executives.

“I think we’re the only news source that I’ve

seen that is doing anything to give voice

to people with intellectual disabilities,”

Grishman said. “So I want to give kudos to

us for that.”

The Walter Cronkite School’s National

Center on Disability and Journalism helped

spread our work, sharing A Valid Podcast

on social media with the words:

“Reporters, take note of this chance to

learn more about what disability advocates

Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource

A Valid Podcast season two cohosts Alana

Gibbs (left) and her sister Darah Thompson

Photo by Jennifer Szweda Jordan

Point Park University alumna Francesca Dabecco (left) and ASL interpreter Alison Bartley speak at the All-Abilities

Media table at the Disability and Mental Health Summit March 3, 2020, at the David Lawrence Convention Center.

production engineer. Center for Media are prioritizing right now.”

broadcast from Gibbs’ salon in Bridgeville.

6 7



All-Abilities Media

‘Unpacking ableism’ with

college students

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan

All-Abilities Media

Dis/Ability Symposium: art,

research, autobiography

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan

Photo by Jennifer Szweda Jordan

Emily Harnett of Point Park’s Conservatory Program was initially afraid she couldn’t perform on stage when she was diagnosed with

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. In the Center for Media Innovation, she spoke dramatically about her years of misdiagnoses and her

determination to be an actor.

Photo by Joseph Smith

Brian Rutherford (right), a Point Park graduate who worked at Walt Disney World, speaks about losing his eyesight and his

work with theater companies.

In one of the latest videos published

from the All-Abilities Media Project, Point

Park University acting student Emily

Harnett shares a dramatic reading of her

life story.

“I’m a kid,” she says. “Kids are running,

playing and laughing, carefree. I’m running

and playing and laughing, but my time is

cut short.”

The project’s journalists, based at the CMI,

are working hard to create content, and

continually adding more accessibility

features – triple-checking and

painstakingly rewriting captions, for

8 example, so those with hearing impair-

conversation about their lives instead of

and representation in film and theater. Kennywood, where she works.

being a black man on the autism spectrum. 9

ments don’t have to rely on the often

inaccurate auto-generated captions.

Project manager Jennifer Szweda Jordan

recently spoke to Duquesne University

psychology students enrolled in an

“Unpacking Ableism” course. She led a

discussion about media portrayals of

people with disabilities, which raised

questions such as: Are adults with

disabilities infantilized in YouTube videos

or news reports? How can we give

greater agency to people with disabilities

to represent themselves and the issues

important to them?

All-Abilities Media focuses on ensuring that

this vulnerable group leads the public

social service agencies and family

members, who were their primary public

voice in the past.

All-Abilities Media parallels the national

trend of people with disabilities advocating

for themselves. Last fall, Szweda Jordan was

invited to speak to the board of the National

Center on Disability and Journalism during

its conference at the Walter Cronkite School

of Journalism at Arizona State University in

Phoenix.

On March 3, the All-Abilities Media team was

a part of the free Disability & Mental Health

Summit organized by state Rep. Dan Miller

at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

More than 230 regional disability service

organizations were represented.

CMI graduate assistant Stacey

Federoff led the Dis/Ability Show & Tell: A

Community Symposium on Oct. 22 that

allowed community members, Point Park

students, staff and alumni to share creative

and personal stories around the issues of

disability, accessibility and inclusivity.

Point Park alumnus and former Walt Disney

World Entertainment Costuming Manager

Brian Rutherford talked with WESA’s Bill

O’Driscoll about his experiences at the

company prior to losing his sight to a series

of strokes, as well as his current work

aiding local theater companies with audio

description. Other topics featured were:

learning disabilities, Certified Autism

Centers, narcolepsy, mobility disabilities

Photo by Joseph Smith

Jade Steele, education student at Point

Park, spoke about Certified Autism Centers

at locations including the amusement park

Photo provided by Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith photographs events for the

All-Abilities Media Project. In a story at

adapittsburgh.com, he shares his story about



All-Abilities Media

Journalists grow by

working together

By Francesca Dabecco

All-Abilities Media

A Valid Podcast focuses

on COVID-19 threat

By Jennifer Szweda Jordan

Photo by Jennifer Szweda Jordan

Erin Gannon, who started her podcasting career at the Center for Media Innovation in

2015, sits between CMI director Andy Conte and NPR’s Melissa Block at the Media

Innovators Speaker Series in March 2019.

Prior to the pandemic, podcaster

Erin Gannon and I met at the Center for

Media Innovation a couple times a month

where I worked with her on Unabridged

Press’ collaboration with the CMI: the

All-Abilities Media Project.

Erin is the host of a two-time Golden

Quill award-winning podcast, “Look Who’s

Here.” She is 48, has Down syndrome, and

when she walks into a room, she fills up the

space with her enthusiastic presence. As a

freelance journalist (and Point Park

alumna), it’s a privilege for me to be back

at the CMI and work with her, as well as

elevate other stories from people in the

disability community.

everyone there and what they do...It feels

the breadth of new voices invited into the pages 58-59.

10 You got that right, Erin. Goodie, it will be.

11

Recently, Erin and I caught up on a Zoom

call and chatted about how we’re dealing

with being stuck at home, what little things

make us happy during these crazy times

and what we look forward to when we can

return to the CMI and work together again.

Erin has been doing lots of crafts, like

painting rocks with her best friend Marisa

who lives at a group home with her. I’ve

enjoyed planting my small urban garden

outside my apartment on the North Side.

We both agreed that we miss experiencing

life in downtown Pittsburgh.

For Erin, being on Point Park University’s

campus is especially meaningful. “I never

went to college,” she said. “Watching

like I’m in college.”

On campus, she says CMI Director Andy Conte

is an inspiration to her.

“It’s not just what he does,” Erin says, “it’s

who he is.”

As it happens, Andy was a mentor to me too.

As my professor in entrepreneurial journalism

during undergrad, he made me believe in my

own abilities as a storyteller. In that way, Erin

and I are having parallel experiences.

Together, we’ve worked on journalism

skill-building, like note-taking and preparing

questions for interviews. I also accompanied

Erin on an exciting media visit to Y108 radio.

“Each time I come to the CMI, I learn new

things, like different ideas to work on and

different questions to ask. I just feel

comfortable doing it,” Erin said.

She has taught me a lot too. Erin has such a

grand curiosity, and she makes interviewing

look so easy.

“From beginning to now, I’m more

comfortable now,” she said.

“In interviews, sometimes I do

get a little nervous,” Erin said.

“I take deep breaths and just

close my eyes for a few seconds

and just focus on the actual

questions.”

I think that is some great advice — and not

just for interviewing. As the days pass with

great uncertainty, we can all find some

comfort in taking a deep breath and focusing

on the present moment in front of us.

Before we wrapped up the call, I told Erin that

while we are eager to get back to normalcy,

we can appreciate being able to connect from

the comfort and safety of our homes… And

one day, we will meet again at the CMI.

“Goodie!” she said.

Photo by All Abilities Media

Point Park University broadcast student Nick Tommarello (left) works with disability advocate Alisa Grishman to create a podcast

mission statement. They’re in the CMI’s podcast studio.

How far our work to integrate

people with disabilities in media has come!

Two years after we invited people with

disabilities to air grievances about news

coverage at an event on the North Side,

some of the very same people are part of

COVID-19 news coverage.

A Valid Podcast, streamed live on

Unabridged Press’ YouTube and Facebook

pages, and carried on Apple and other

major podcast platforms, brings together

our students and staff along with professional

journalists. What makes A Valid Podcast

stand apart from other news coverage is

conversation. Disability advocates Alisa

Grishman, Josie Badger and others are

analysts on the program.

They’re engaging in conversation with reporters

like the Post-Gazette’s Sean Hamill,

who’s been covering COVID-19 cases and

deaths at Beaver County’s largest nursing

home. The advocates are gaining a better

understanding of journalism, and reporters

like Hamill are hearing an underrepresented

perspective. The episode with Hamill

also included a recently discharged nursing

home patient. Her sobering story is worth a

listen, and is featured in the illustrations on

A Valid Podcast is an outgrowth of the

Center for Media Innovation’s collaboration

with Unabridged Press that aims to integrate

people with disabilities in media coverage.

Season Two of A Valid Podcast is hosted by

Alana Gibbs and Darah Thompson, sisters

with invisible disabilities who are eager to

participate in the podcast in part because,

as women of color, they are underrepresented

in disability news coverage.

To learn more, or to participate in this work,

contact jennifer@unabridgedpress.com or

412-339-0748.



McKeesport Community Newsroom

McKeesport Community Newsroom

Writers build community

through stories

By Matt Petras

people for a live reading from members of

the writers group.

“The mood was so loving and supportive,”

Rial said. “It was really moving for them to

get up on stage and to share their stories

with people and to see their families come

out and support them that night. It was an

incredibly touching evening.”

In addition to regular workshops, the

newsroom also invites guests for

special presentations about journalism and

storytelling. In the summer of 2019, Helen

Fallon, former director of Point Park University’s

Honors Program and a Pittsburgh

Post-Gazette copy editor, visited to do a

workshop about attribution, bias and sourcing,

for example. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Staff Photographer Michael Santiago also

came to present his work.

Busch regularly attends the writing

workshops, using them as an opportunity

to flex his writing muscles and hear the

diverse experiences of others.

“I like listening to the other

people’s stories and getting

some insight into different life

experiences that are different,”

Busch said. “They’re not what

I’ve experienced.”

Busch loves the newsroom’s location in the

former McKeesport Daily News building,

which shut down in late 2015. He admires

the building’s classic newspaper

architecture and history.

“I used to work occasionally in the

McKeesport Daily News building,” Busch

said. “I’m glad to see there’s something

happening there because I just think it’s one

of the coolest places on the planet.”

The Pittsburgh Foundation provides funding

for the McKeesport Community Newsroom,

led by project manager Martha Rial. The

program operates in conjunction with

YouthCAST, an afterschool program for young

people.

Photo by Stephen Willing

Vickie Babyak, of Dravosburg, reads during Tube City Writers Live at Tube City Center in McKeesport in November 2019.

Jim Busch, a 67-year-old White Oak

resident retired from the advertising

industry, remembers McKeesport’s best

days fondly. Though he has witnessed the

city’s decline, the Center for Media

Innovation’s McKeesport Community

Newsroom gives him joy.

“I can remember when McKeesport was a

big deal, and I’m just glad to see something

positive happening here,” Busch said. “I

mean, it’s been bad news for most of my

life, but this is something good.”

The McKeesport Community Newsroom,

founded in April 2019 and based in the

former McKeesport Daily News building,

brings together Mon Valley residents for

storytelling and journalism programs.

The newsroom follows the CMI’s

McKeesport Media Oasis project from 2018,

which saw media professionals facilitate

writing and photography work from

McKeesport middle and high school

students. Martha Rial, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning

photographer based in the Pittsburgh

area, serves as the newsroom’s project

director, overseeing a bevy of writing,

photography and journalism programs and

events.

“For me, it’s a way to build community

through storytelling,” Rial said. “Not only is

it a way to improve your written and visual

communication skills, but it’s a chance to

meet new friends, learn more about your

neighbors… [and] also how to share

information responsibly.”

Rial oversees the newsroom’s Tube City

Writers group led by Dr. Nicole Peeler, a fiction

writer and Seton Hill professor, as well as the

photography workshops done in partnership

with the Carnegie Library of McKeesport.

Both groups meet regularly, welcoming

aspiring storytellers of all ages.

Back in November 2019, the newsroom hosted

Tub City Writers Live, drawing about 35

Photo by Destiny Robinson

Kids participate in a “Pop Up + Play” event at Harrison Village in McKeesport in July 2019.

12 13



McKeesport Community Newsroom

Tube City Writers meet

award-winning author

McKeesport Community Newsroom

Experts share their insights

On Feb. 26, several members of

Tube City Writers attended Irish author

Colum McCann’s speaking engagement

as part of the Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures

series at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall

in Oakland.

Everyone received a copy of his new novel

Apeirogon and following his lecture a few

members spoke with him about their involvement

with TCW.

McCann is a former journalist and the

co-founder of the international storytelling

initiative Narrative 4. He is also a winner of

the National Book Award.

Photo by Stephanie Flom

Jennifer McCalla, author Colum McCann, Maria Palmer and Martha Rial at McCann’s lecture.

Sports create moments full of

emotion, P-G journalists explain

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter

Gerry Dulac and photographer Steph

Chambers shared “Stories From The Field”

on Nov. 7 at the McKeesport Community

Newsroom. Chambers explained how she

captures emotional images, while Dulac

recalled memorable players and moments

from his career that began at the Daily

News in McKeesport.

Screenshot by Olivia Vaylo

‘Protect yourself’ by

learning copyright laws

Photo By Martha Rial

Commercial photographer Elliott Cramer leads a discussion on

copyright at Penn State Greater Allegheny.

McKeesport Community Newsroom

project manager Martha Rial recently

hosted virtual conversations with Mc-

Keesport native and retired KDKA reporter

Harold Hayes, as well as Pittsburgh Post

Gazette photographer Andrew Rush.

On Feb. 3, commercial photographer

Elliott Cramer gave an informative and entertaining

presentation to McKeesport Community

Newsroom participants and Penn State

Greater Allegheny students at the McKeesport

campus about why photographers, writers,

designers and musicians need to be knowledgeable

about federal copyright laws and procedures

in order to have a long and successful

career in the arts. Cramer closed his presentation

with four pieces of advice: Be amazing,

create great things, take chances and

protect yourself.

14 Photo by Stacey Federoff

15



McKeesport Community Newsroom

Corona diaries keep Tube

City Writers connected

McKeesport Community Newsroom

Waiting for pandemic’s

end for reconnection

Read personal stories and insightful

perspectives in The Corona Diaries, an ongoing

collection of first-person experiences

from Tube City Writers and images from the

Mon Valley Photography Collective during

the time of the pandemic.

Both are programs of the McKeesport

Community Newsroom, an initiative of

the Center for Media Innovation, which supports

citizen journalism and storytelling

by residents of the Mon Valley’s largest city

and surrounding areas.

“Perhaps we will come out of this crisis as

better and more creative not in spite of the

constraints we’ve been subjected to, but

because of them.” – Jim Busch, Tube City

Writers

Pandemic isolation

makes me miss friends

By Jaydan Keys, 14 years old

Editor’s note: Youth CAST students share

some thoughts about how the pandemic has

affected their lives. These students developed

this writing through the weekly workshop

Wednesdays with Matt Petras.

W hen the virus calms down the

first thing I would do is hang out with friends.

That is because hanging out with your friends

is better than just playing video games online

with them. Also, they’re going to put the

hoops back up so everyone will be at the

courts. Lastly, the football field will open

back up so I can play football there with my

friends. That’s one thing I would do when the

Photo by Vickie Babyak

Another thing I would do is lift and workout.

This is because football season is around

the corner and I need to stay strong for the

season. In 9th grade, there’s no weight limit

so I can not be weak for the season. Also, that

is when recruits start looking at highschool

players so everyone will go 100%. So, that’s

what I would do after this pandemic.

This virus has stopped me from making plans

with friends, so FaceTiming them and playing

video games with them makes the day go

faster. Usually, I’ll be up until 5:00 am talking

to them on the phone. Before this was going

on, I would go to sleep at 12 am. Now, I go to

sleep at different times every day.

Also, it postponed the football season so

it’s gonna be a long time until I practice with

my teammates. So I’ll start using my speed

check. Also I play on the defensive line so when

I walk around the house I’ll do moves when I

go around objects just to practice my skill set.

That’s how this pandemic is affecting me.

Since I was little football was my life. I knew

when I was around 10 years old I wanted to be

in the NFL some day. I’ve played the offensive

line all of my life so I am more than experienced

at that position. I’ve went to camps in the past.

For example, I went to NFL Star Aaron Donald‘s

camp last summer in Penn Hills. That’s how the

coronavirus has taken away something I love

doing which is playing football.

This virus has not really affected my mom. The

only thing she couldn’t do now is shop at the

mall. We still shop online. Also, she works at

home so she’s still comfortable. The most uncomfortable

thing for her is when she shops with

a lot of people in the store. That’s how the virus

By Jim Busch, 67 years old

Editor’s note: Freelance writer Jim Busch

participates in the Tube City Writers group

Today, I took my wife to see her

chemotherapy doctor at Allegheny General

Hospital. In normal pre-Covid times, I would

have gone in with her to see the doctor. The

worst case scenario is that I would have been

relegated to the waiting room while she had

her appointment. With the lockdown, only

patients are allowed beyond the hospital

doors. I had to sit in our car and wait for her to

come out.

There are a row of spaces in Allegheny General’s

James Street parking garage reserved

for the hospital’s cancer center. I parked there

and watched my wife disappear into the

bowels of AGH. Sitting in my car, I noticed that

I wasn’t alone in the “wait and worry” section

of the garage. Since patients undergoing

chemo are not in any condition to operate

a motor vehicle, all patients need someone

to drive them to their treatments. Like me,

none of the other drivers were allowed into

the hospital, so we all sat there in our Chevys,

Toyotas and Subarus. We listened to our

radios, played with our phones and stared

into space.

I read the book I had brought along for the

purpose and started to think about my fellow

ladies and gentlemen in waiting. I was there

for a while, so I got to see the special parking

spaces change hands. I saw people come and

go as they went in for treatment and come

back afterwards. I paid attention to the wistful

looks on the drivers’ faces as they were

left alone.

It was clear that they wanted to be with their

loved ones instead of being forced to wait

in the concrete catacomb of the parking

garage. When their passengers returned from

their treatments, sometimes on their own

power, sometimes in a wheelchair, the look of

concern on their faces was heart wrenching.

Though they tried to manufacture a reassuring

smile, their distress showed through this

mask like a silhouette on a backlit window

The car next to me was driven by an older

man wearing a red Make America Great Again

hat. He made no attempt to amuse himself

and just sat their staring at the wall with a

scowl on his unshaven face. In the space to

my left, was a middle aged African American

lady wearing a stylish animal print jacket and

reading a magazine.

After a short while, a nurse rolled a wheelchair

up to her car. For some reason I had

expected her “patient” to be male, probably

her husband, but I was wrong. The attendant

was pushing a younger woman who looked

much like the woman behind the wheel of the

waiting car. The woman in the wheelchair was

probably her daughter, which added poignancy

to the scene.

In short order, her parking slot was occupied

by an older couple who kissed before she

opened the door and got out of the car. The

old gentleman watched his wife as she made

her way to the hospital with faltering steps,

silver cane in hand.

A few months before, we all would have been

herded into a waiting room and supplied with

piles of old magazines with the addresses

ripped off the cover for our entertainment.

For a while, we would have listened to the

TV news channel on the television hanging

from the wall trying to escape the inescapable

boredom.

At this point, I would find an excuse to strike

up a conversation with someone. I would

comment on something on the TV or make a

joke about the vintage magazine selection.

Perhaps, I would complement something the

person was wearing. Anything to open the

door to conversation, to find a way to connect

with them.

There is a reason that a certain type of person

chooses a career that requires them to constantly

talk to strangers. I’ve always maintained

that the best salespeople were the worst

children. We are the grownups that bad little

children grow up to be. We are the ones who

didn’t listen to our mothers when they told

us to be quiet, not to ask too many questions

I think I was a good salesperson because I’ve

always been curious about other people. I want

to pop open the hood and see what’s going on

inside their heads. The best way to do this is to

ignore my mother’s warnings, talk to strangers

and ask about their lives.

Some of the most interesting conversations I

have had in my life have been with perfect strangers.

The janitor who was cleaning my office who

told me about being one of Merrill’s Marauders in

World War lI Burma.

The upholstery shop owner who explained how

he wound up on a Georgia chain gang when he

was 16 years old, because he trusted his ne’erdo-well

older brother. The Indiana store clerk

who was James Dean’s prom date and had the

pictures to prove it.

I believe that the greatest compliment that you

can pay anyone is to really listen to them, to give

them space to tell their story. Thomas Jefferson

said, “The man who is universally interested, will

be universally interesting.” Because I am interested

in the stories of everyone I meet, people are

eager to share their stories with me.

For the last several months, social distancing

has robbed me of the opportunity to talk with

strangers. Usually, I get to talk to people when I’m

waiting in line, in a restaurant, and folks I meet

on my walks. Since museum and library patrons

are generally articulate and intelligent, I have

always enjoyed wonderful conversations in these

venues.

Not long before the shutdown, I was at the Hunt

Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie

Mellon University, I told a fellow visitor how

much I liked a particular work. To my surprise,

she thanked me. It turned out that she was the

Brazilian artist who had painted the work I admired.

She went on to tell me about her work and

life as a botanist in the Amazon rainforest. Sorry,

mom, talking to strangers is cool!

I could use a haircut and I would love to wolf

down a piping hot plate of Rey Azteca’s cheese

enchiladas, but what I really hunger for is human

connection. My soul longs for human connection

and my mind craves a new supply of stories.

I can’t wait for this quarantine to end. I want to

disappoint my mom again by talking to lots of

virus calms down.

16 ladder at my house to keep my footwork in affects my mother.

blind. I knew how they felt.

and especially, “Don’t talk to strangers.” strangers and asking them lots of questions.

17



McKeesport Community Newsroom

Youth CAST looks to

increase engagement

By Keino Fitzpatrick & Aaron Johnson

Pittsburgh Media Partnership

Collaborative launches

with focus on COVID-19

By Lou Corsaro

Photo courtesy of YouthCAST

The Youth CAST Leadership Network

has been serving the area of McKeesport

as a youth ambassador program for the

past six years. Our youth are nominated

to our program through adults within the

McKeesport Area School District and other

organizations located within the borders

of McKeesport. Our focus is a student-led

voice movement that encourages

community engagement, leadership

development, and experiential learning.

The experiences and exercises with CMI

have allowed our youth to investigate

and explore how writing can serve as a

mechanism for change and to establish a

voice for action and attitude. This focus has

led Youth CAST to fully explore the various

arenas of writing, photography, and other

types of expression.

As stated by Dr. Martin Luther King, “A

leader sticks to his [her] integrity and cause

in order for movement to occur.” This is the

experience and vision that the Youth CAST

Leadership Network along with the Point

Park University CMI collaborative looks to

establish.

increase student participation, engagement,

and meaningful exercises through

student-led measurable action goals for the

youth of McKeesport.

For more information on Youth CAST regarding

the mission and vision aspects of the

program, please contact Dr. Aaron Johnson,

program director, or Mr. Keino Fitzpatrick,

founder.

The Center for Media Innovation

at Point Park University has launched the

Pittsburgh Media Partnership, an unprecedented

collaborative effort among media

outlets in the Greater Pittsburgh region.

The Partnership will support journalists

from 20 participating news organizations

as they work to ensure local communities

get the information they need during this

crisis. It was formed earlier this year in

response to the dire economic challenges

facing the local news industry, with a

mission to support a vibrant, diverse and

independent media ecosystem.

Its structure – funded by The Heinz Endowments

and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation

– supports collaboration among the

media outlets when it can help the most,

which includes significant enterprise journalism.

While the group had been meeting

for months to develop its first project

together, the board recently agreed to shift

the focus to COVID-19 coverage, given the

unusual nature of the story and the resources

required to cover it.

“One of the Center’s primary goals is to

support professional journalism, which is

why we established the Partnership in the

first place. Current world events and the

impact it’s having on professional journalism

warrants a temporary shift in strategy

as we see news outlets struggle with

sudden lost advertising revenue while they

strain their resources to inform the public,”

said Andrew Conte, director of the Center

for Media Innovation. “We’re grateful that

our donors share our vision and support

this shift. We could not do any of this

without them.”

In addition to finding ways to collaborate

on pandemic-related news coverage,

the Partnership also provided additional

support, including technology grants and

funding projects pitched by freelancers to

help supplement work done by staff members

of participating news organizations.

“Our mission is to support our region’s

journalists and their work in the middle of

a tumultuous time for the business of local

news,” said AmyJo Brown, project editor of

the Partnership. “In that sense, the mission

isn’t changing with the current crisis.”

The 20 news organizations that joined the

Partnership signed on recognizing there

are times that call for working together on

a story that deserves more than any one

organization can do on its own, Brown said.

“This effort was already going to be a historic

collaboration among Pittsburgh’s media

organizations,” she said. “Now it’s more of

a critical one, given the daily breaking news

cycle of the coronavirus pandemic and the

demands on the newsrooms, which are all

working around the clock to be sure everyone

gets the information they need.”

While newsrooms are usually good at reacting

quickly when there is an emergency or

catastrophe to cover, a sustained, ongoing

response to a crisis needs a different structure,

said Stefanie Murray, director of the

Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair

State University, which has been tracking and

studying the growing number of collaborative

news initiatives across the country.

Collaboration is always important, but it’s

“simply critical” during times of crisis, she

said.

“Journalists working together — across company

lines — to meet a community’s critical

information needs can better serve people,

can reduce duplication and can be a vehicle

to provide a much stronger, longer-term

response,” she said.

Future projects for Youth CAST look to

18 19



Pittsburgh Media Partnership

Pittsburgh Partnership

aims to innovate

By AmyJo Brown

Pittsburgh Media Partnership

News media form historic

collaboration

By Lou Corsaro

We are a collaborative of local

news organization spanning the city and

the surrounding river valley communities

that make up the greater Pittsburgh region.

Our mission is to support a vibrant, diverse

and independent local media ecosystem.

Together, we are listening, sharing and

innovating — to ensure that all the stories

that need to be told are told.

We hold conversations with residents

throughout the region to make the process

of news-making more transparent and

accessible.

We connect local journalism and provide

space to talk and room to think about how

we deliver the news in a constantly changing

industry.

We pool resources to help experiment and

innovate and to support enterprise journalism

that benefits all of our audiences.

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Representatives from the Pittsburgh Media Partnership’s participating outlets meet at

the Center for Media Innovation.

Cohort Statistics

» Of the 20 partners, 75 percent are for-profit news organizations,

25 percent are nonprofits.

» 85 percent are controlled by local ownership.

The Pittsburgh Media Partnership

officially formed in early 2020, after a yearlong

series of conversations and meetings

held through the Bridge Pittsburgh initiative.

The 19 founding partners include:

• Ambridge Connection

• Environmental Health News

• Homewood Nation

• McKees Rocks Gazette 2.0

• Mon Valley Independent

• New Pittsburgh Courier

• NEXTpittsburgh

• Pittsburgh Business Times

• Pittsburgh City Paper

• Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle

• Pittsburgh Quarterly

• Postindustrial

• Presente Pittsburgh Media

• PublicSource

• Soul Pitt Quarterly

• Storyburgh

• Trib Total Media

• Unabridged Press

• WESA

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Rob Taylor Jr., managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier, John Chamberlin of YaJagoff

Media, Larissa Dudkiewicz of Ambridge Connection and Amber Thompson of Leaders

of Change discuss partnership ideas.

Photo by Lucy Schaly

Brian Cook, president of the Pittsburgh

Black Media Federation, holds a poster for

Alisa Grishman, of Unabridged Press.

» All of their newsrooms are small. In fact, more than half (12 of

the partners) are putting out news for their com- munities with

two or fewer full-time staff.

» Of the remaining partners, the median staff size is 10.

» The partner with the largest newsroom — 50 full-time editorial

employees — includes a staff spread over a wide geographic area

with one to two reporters assigned to be the sole source of

coverage for the region’s more rural communities.

The effort is a historic collaboration among

Pittsburgh’s media. Throughout the next

year, the organizations will examine the

causes behind the region’s population

decline and help facilitate conversations

about solutions that will both retain and

attract a more diverse population. In addition

to the results of the work itself, the

process of working collaboratively is likely

to have a lasting impact on the region’s

media ecosystem.

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Project editor AmyJo brown leads an exercise with members of the Pittsburgh

Media Partnership at their January meeting in the Point Park University Center for

Media Innovation.

Editor’s note: The Heinz Endowments and

the Henry L. Hillman Foundation provide

funding for the Pittsburgh Media Partnership,

led by project editor AmyJo Brown.

20 21



On Media

NEXTPittsburgh column

tracks media trends

On Media

Does Pittsburgh media (and the city) have a

racism problem?

By Andrew Conte

Director Andrew Conte writes a media column for NEXTpittsburgh, funded by The Heinz Endowments. Here is a selection of his

columns from the past year.

2019 marks the end of metro daily

newspapers

Photo by Andrew Conte

Photo By Germantown Info Hub

Can Pittsburgh have a healthy media

ecosystem if journalists of color don’t

believe they’re fairly represented? Or if they

don’t believe they have reasons to stay in

the city?

Letrell Crittenden, who is African American

and who serves as program director and

assistant professor of communication at

Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia,

recently asked me this.

His new report, The Pittsburgh problem:

race, media and everyday life in the Steel

City, (and an accompanying story in Columbia

Journalism Review), underscores the

lack of diversity in Pittsburgh newsrooms

— and in the city — by saying that reporters

of color here “have a much lesser quality of

life both inside and outside of the newsroom.”

Crittenden interviewed 20 current and

former journalists from the Pittsburgh

region, including 16 of color, and he kept

their names and news outlets anonymous,

which is common for academic research.

They made comments such as:

“ In Pittsburgh, I felt very much in a box ,” one

African-American journalist said. “ I felt like I

was fighting my bosses and [fellow] staff at

the same time, and I was ex hausted.”

“ I want to say something, I want to speak

up, but I don’t want to be perceived as being

angry, or, ‘you’re that angry black reporter.’

So you’re walking on eggshells,” another

reporter said.

“ It got to a point where I’m like, ‘I guess I

kind of accept it. It is what it is, and I’m just

going to pick up my assignments and keep

going,’” a third said. “ So I guess you can say

I gave up, threw my hands up in the air and

said, ‘You know, forget it.’”

Historians will look back many

years from now and point to 2019 as the

end of the traditional metropolitan daily

newspaper.

The decline has been building for some

time, since before the Great Recession in

2008. My journalism professors at Columbia

University were warning about the

demise of printed daily newspapers more

than two decades ago.

This past year we reached a tipping point

toward no return. The industry has changed

so dramatically and moved far away

from our traditional understanding of what

it means to be a mid-sized city newspaper.

More than that, people within and outside

the industry finally seem ready to accept

this change, nostalgia be damned.

Certainly here in Pittsburgh, the signs are

obvious. Just over three years ago, the city

had two daily printed newspapers, backed

by wealthy individuals willing to lose millions

of dollars to keep them going.

The Tribune-Review stopped printing in

the city in November 2016. It still publishes

every day in the suburbs, from its offices in

Tarentum and Greensburg, and puts out

weekly newspapers across the region. The

company has also experimented with digital

products and new ways of making money.

Even when these efforts didn’t survive

(looking at you, UpGrūv), they still offered

meaningful insights about what people want.

But its printed daily newspaper in Pittsburgh

no longer exists.

The Post-Gazette, of course, dropped two

days of print in 2018 and another two days

this fall. The Block family, which owns the

newspaper, has signaled a strategy to move

toward digital products rather than print.

None of this is to say that the PG is going

away anytime soon, but it certainly will look

more different than it has in the past.

What can Pittsburgh do about its

diversity/racism problem?

Pittsburgh’s media, the city and the

region clearly have a diversity and racism

problem. Once we acknowledge it, the vital

next step is finding solutions.

We cannot have a thriving first-class city

with a robust media environment until

more white Pittsburghers take deliberate

steps to amplify diverse voices, call out

racism when it occurs and work harder to

who do not look like them.

“These are things that everybody in the city

has to want to address,” says Letrell Crittenden,

the author of a new report about

racism and diversity problems in Pittsburgh

media and the city, “The Pittsburgh

problem: race, media and everyday life in

the Steel City.”

as program director and assistant professor of

communication at Thomas Jefferson University

in Philadelphia.

“It can’t just simply be people of color who

are urging for change. If you’re going to

change the climate, it needs to be embraced

by everyone,” he says. “That is the great question:

Is the city willing to fully embrace inclusivity

in a manner where all of its residents

have an opportunity to indeed thrive?”

22 develop actual friendships with people Crittenden, who is African American, serves

23



Doris O’Donnell Fellowship

$20K fellowship returns amid

COVID crisis for local media

By Lou Corsaro

Doris O’Donnell Fellowship

University’s Downtown Pittsburgh campus

three times, including an event to celebrate

their work.

Last year’s fellowship winner, Erica Hensley, a

health/data reporter and Knight Foundation

Fellow at Mississippi Today, spent the past year

working on a project that examines how

Mississippi handles the threat of lead

poisoning. Her work compares data from state

and nonprofits to examine high-risk areas,

where testing, interventions and data

collection are sparse and uncoordinated. The

first in a series of stories that cover her findings

was published on July 24.

A panel of five distinguished judges with

credentials in innovative and investigative

journalism return for a second year to evaluate

applicants based on value, innovation, engagement,

diversity and ability. That panel includes:

Penny Abernathy, a former executive at

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times

who is now the Knight Chair in Journalism

and Digital Media Economics at the University

of North Carolina. She is the author of “The

Expanding News Deserts,” a major report that

documents the decline and loss of local news

organizations in the U.S.

David Folkenflik, a media correspondent

for NPR News, and host and editor of On Point

from NPR and WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. His

stories and analyses are broadcast throughout

NPR’s newsmagazines, including All Things

Considered, Morning Edition, and Here & Now.

Amber Hunt, an investigative reporter

for the Cincinnati Enquirer. She is part of the

Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Enquirer,

where she also hosts the podcast “Accused,” an

award-winning true crime serial that reached

No. 1 on iTunes and has 20 million downloads

to date. She’s written six books, including

the New York Times bestseller “The Kennedy

Wives.”

Brentin Mock, a Pittsburgh-based staff

writer for Bloomberg CityLab, a standalone

website from The Atlantic that explores trends

shaping our country’s urban future, and captures

the creativity and vibrancy of our increasingly

urbanized world.

Carl Prine, former editor of the Navy

Times, who covered the invasion of Iraq for

the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was later

deployed to Iraq as an Army guardsman. Prior

to the Navy Times, he covered the military beat

and breaking national news at the San Diego

Union-Tribune. In 2012, Prine won an

Investigative Reporters and Editors Award

for “Rules of Engagement,” a report on a

2007 incident in which U.S. soldiers shot

three unarmed deaf Iraqi boys.

“For a long time now, ever-shrinking

budgets have limited the resources of local

newsrooms and their ability to support

investigative reporting. Everyone should be

concerned with how this hastens the decline

of objective, timely and impactful journalism

across the country,” said Matt Groll,

chairman of the Allegheny Foundation. “The

Trustees of the Allegheny Foundation are

greatly encouraged by the response to this

fellowship and hope it not only produces

significant stories but also inspires future

generations of journalists.”

Doris O’Donnell, the namesake of the award,

was a pioneering journalist who began her

50-year career during World War II for the

Cleveland News. She joined the Cleveland

Plain Dealer in 1959, covering the Sam

Sheppard murder trial that inspired “The

Fugitive,” and traveling to Dallas for the

aftermath of President Kennedy’s

assassination and the Soviet Union during

the height of the Cold War. O’Donnell was

hired by Richard Scaife in 1973 to write

for the Greensburg Tribune-Review. She

worked there for 15 years before returning

to Cleveland.

Photo by John Altdorfer

Dara Collins, editor of The Globe, asks a question during the press conference announcing the inaugural winner of the fellowship.

Journalism outlets around the

country have been hit hard by the

COVID-19 pandemic, and the Center for

Media Innovation at Point Park University

offers support with the return of the

$20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in

Investigative Journalism Fellowship. The

fellowship, now in its second year, was

designed to spotlight and take on the

growing problem of underserved media

markets known as news deserts.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating

for local newsrooms, both here in

the Pittsburgh region and around the

country,” said Andrew Conte, director of

the Center for Media Innovation. “We want

to provide substantial support to enterprising

journalists who need it the most right

With the goal of making an even bigger

impact, the fellowship this year also will

award second- and third-place prices of

$5,000 and $2,500. The fellowship is made

possible through a three-year grant from

the Allegheny Foundation.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken

hold, many newsrooms across the country

have seen mass layoffs and furloughs, and

some outlets have entirely shutdown.

“For many journalism outlets, being

shorthanded is nothing new, but this crisis

has exacerbated the problem to extreme

levels,” Conte said. “We are excited to be

able to add second- and third-place prize

money so we can increase our support to

the industry.”

a daily newspaper and 37 percent had seen

local newspapers disappear between 2004

and 2019.

“Even before COVID-19 changed our world,

many local newsrooms around the country

were in trouble, and local newspapers have

been hit the hardest. A report from Pew

shows newspapers are half the size they were

in 2008,” said Kristen Hare, a reporter for the

Poynter Institute who covers local news

innovation and has been tracking

pandemic-related newsroom job losses. “But

we continue to see and need innovation to

help local journalists uncover the stories that

have to be told to protect healthy local

democracies. We’re not in a one-size-fits-all

world anymore, and programs like this will

help us figure out the many paths forward. “

The fellowship winner will have eight months

to report and publish or broadcast the final

story or series of stories. In addition, the honoree

will be required to come to Point Park

Photo by John Altdorfer

Point Park University President Paul Hennigan addresses attendees at a press

conference announcing last year’s fellowship winner, Erica Hensley.

“Doris was a trailblazer for the generations

of women in this business who came after

her,” said Sue McFarland, Greensburg editor

for the Tribune-Review, who edited O’Donnell’s

work. “She fought long and hard to

cover some of the biggest stories of her time,

and erase the notion that some assignments

were off-limits to many talented journalists

based purely on their gender.”

As of this writing, the second year of

fellowship applications are under review.

This year’s finalists will be announced in

August, and the ultimate winner will be

announced in September.

Editor’s Note: The Allegheny Foundation

funds the Doris O’Donnell Innovations in

Investigative Journalism Fellowship. Chris

Ann Hays, president of Radiant Integrated

Communications, manages the award.

In early April, the Brookings Institution

reported that 57 percent of the U.S. coun-

now.”

ties with reported COVID-19 cases lacked

24 25



Doris O’Donnell Fellowship

Inaugural fellow investigates

Mississippi lead poisoning

By Erica Hensley

As an investigative reporter focused

on health and data analysis, I often find

myself asking: “But where is the data?” In

Mississippi, the answer is usually

somewhere between: It doesn’t exist, it’s

not stored in an easily accessible way, or

good luck getting it! Mississippi is not

unique in this way, and investigative

reporters across the nation are familiar

with the hunt. But, in southern, rural states

that are often over-simplified and the

butt of jokes for the rest of the nation, it’s

even more important to report deeply into

patterns and causes.

It’s not enough to say, “Mississippi is last

in X ranking, again.” As reporters who care

about this place, we are beholden to ask

why and what can be done about it. To

that end, living and reporting here has

been a crash course in DIY data-collecting

and database building.

Enter, Point Park University’s Center for

Media Innovation, who saw my vision for

a longform deep-dive into lead exposure

risk across the state, and invested in the

necessary time and energy (sometimes,

sweat and tears) that it takes to do this

kind of research and reporting in a state

that often lacks the resources and

bandwidth to do it themselves.

As many of the communities we report in

and on are not only under-served by the

state, but also growing local news deserts,

contextualized reporting that gives

citizens information and engagement

to effect change in their communities is

more important than ever.

While lead exposure has been a hot topic

since Flint, most reporting has not dug

into the various exposures and risk

Photo by Erica Hensley

pockets -- probably because those

variables and trends are really difficult to

identify, especially in face of lackluster data

collection.

But, because lead exposure is permanent

and cannot be reversed, the only way to

combat its longterm consequences is to

prevent it in the first place and mitigate

its compounding health effects. Because

Mississippi is a bit of a “data desert,” there

isn’t comprehensive data about where

children are most susceptible to lead. To

combat that, I’m extracting state and local

data where I can, overlapping datasets and

identifying that risk myself.

Lead exposure usually happens three ways:

water, paint or soil/dust. I’m tracking all

three exposures and layering the

information to map risk pockets. The goal?

Give communities in high-risk areas the

tools they need to make their homes and

families healthier. I’m lucky to work in a

newsroom that values and supports investigations

like this that strive to look at public

health problems through a social lens, and

ultimately empower readers to effect change.

Mississippi Today is a non-profit fully digital

state-wide newsroom that’s completely free

to readers. But with that, we have to rely

on diverse revenue streams. We don’t have

subscriptions or circulation, so we are funded

through fellowships, grants and donors,

which makes the investment by Point Park

pivotal to our work. As the only fully staffed

newsroom covering the whole state, the

deep-dive stories we tell would likely go

untold without our reporting, and by extension,

those who invest in it.

I am happy to note, however, that our model

is catching on. Since we launched, two

nonprofit news outlets have followed, which

is a huge step to combat our state’s

encroaching news deserts, and ultimately,

investing in Mississippi.

“ The Center for Media Innovation is

such a beautiful space and powerful

resource for students, reporters and

just the city itself, really. I’m honestly a

little jealous for younger Erica,

wishing I had had a resource like this in

college. It’s great to see students

embracing true multimedia

storytelling through multiple

platforms. It’s the only way news

media will survive as we know it.”

- Erica Hensley, Investigative Reporter,

Mississippi Today

Photo by Tyler Polk

26 27



Doris O’Donnell Fellowship

Hensley visits campus,

works with students

This profile first appeared on Point Park University’s website

CMI helps business

leaders remain on air

By Andrew Conte

Doris O’Donnell winner Erica Hensley visits campus to work on fellowship

proect, meet with environmental studies and journalism students.

What did receiving the Doris

O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative

Journalism Fellowship from the Center for

Media Innovation at Point Park University

mean to you and the work you do?

I can’t overstate how important it has

been. Mississippi Today is a non-profit

fully digital state-wide newsroom that’s

completely free to readers, so we are really

shaking up the traditional news model. But

with that, we have to rely on diverse

revenue streams. We don’t have

subscriptions or circulation, so we are

funded through fellowships, grants and

donors. As the only fully staffed newsroom

covering the whole state, the deep-dive

stories we tell would likely go untold

without our reporting.

Tell us about your project.

Lots of data! My project is a great example

of stories that would otherwise go untold.

I’m looking at lead exposure across the

state and identifying pockets of risk.

Because Mississippi is a bit of “data desert”

with regard to some public health problems,

there isn’t comprehensive data

about where children are most susceptible

to lead. To combat that, I’m extracting

data where I can, overlapping datasets and

identifying that risk myself. Lead exposure

usually happens three ways: water, paint or

soil/dust. I’m tracking all three exposures

and layering the information to map risk

pockets.

What was it like spending a week at Point

Park University in January?

It was great! The CMI is such a beautiful

space and powerful resource for students,

reporters and just the city itself, really. I’m

honestly a little jealous for younger Erica,

wishing I had had a resource like this in

college. It’s great to see students

embracing true multimedia storytelling

through multiple platforms. It’s the only

way news media will survive as we know

it. I was trained, not very long ago, to think

of news in silos: “print,” “broadcast,” and a

little bit of “online.” Those lines are blurred

more than ever and students need to not

only be comfortable in all three, but need

to be able to merge them for digital

storytelling. It’s great to see a place for

young journalists that embraces that.

As part of your fellowship, you had the

opportunity to work with our students in

class with Professors Matthew Opdyke,

Ph.D., and Bill Moushey, M.S. What were

some of your key messages to the

environmental studies and journalism

classes?

The message I really try to impart is that

every story is a health or environment

story. Even if you don’t see the immediate

Photo by Emma Federkeil

health and medical ramifications – there is

likely a long-term health impact. Also, to just

be comfortable asking “why?” on a deeper

level and looking toward solutions. What

are the social determinants of this situation?

What powers that be stand to benefit from

keeping the status quo and who’s working on

changing it? It’s not enough anymore to just

point to the problems – there are too many. I

think it’s beholden on journalists to focus on

answers, where possible, and explore what’s

working as well.

What was it like working with our

students?

I hope they’ve gleaned something from it.

It can be hard to gauge impact on students,

but if after I leave they have one more data

skill in their reporting toolbox, or can think a

little more creatively about how to collect and

visualize data, then I’ll be happy.

Screenshots and graphic by Nick Ruffolo

We have been making television

programs in our pajamas.

Not really. But we could have been.

When the pandemic started, the CMI

collaborated to produce a Sunday morning

talk show with WPXI-TV, Pittsburgh’s NBC

affiliate, and the Allegheny Conference on

Community Development.

The producers of Our Region’s Business

could no longer go into the studio, so we

started recording the show remotely via

video chat. The relationship lasted through

June.

The first four shows weren’t perfect, but

they all ran on broadcast television in

HD-quality.

Before the crisis, TV producers were right to

insist on studio quality for every show. But

as we all have learned, good content right

now means more than anything.

If you’re wondering how to make yourself

more camera-ready, here are some tips on

how to look your best during a remote video

interview.

1. Face a light source such as a window.

2. Create a quiet space.

3. Place camera at eye level.

4. Wear plain colors and avoid patterns.

28 29

5. Smile!



Community Outreach

What’s scarier than fake zombies?

A real global pandemic

Actors and makeup helped us transform students for our Nov. 1 event, while COVID-19 kept

130 students from visiting campus in the spring.

By Stacey Federoff, CMI Graduate Assistant

In the fall, 192 students from 11 western

Pennsylvania schools took part in 10 sessions

covering different types of media, visual effects,

turning your passion into a career and more,

including zombie novel author and Point Park

alumna Lucy Leitner, who gave the keynote

speech about using zombies to enhance a

story.

For the spring event, we had expected 130

students from 12 schools (including one group

traveling from Erie). But that was just as cancellations

started taking hold in order to “flatten

the curve” and stop the spread of COVID-19.

High School, Point Park adjunct instructor

Richard Kelly and New York Times reporter

Sarah Mervosh.

In all, the series’ nine shows reached more

than 10,000 people on Facebook and

YouTube.

Instead, in mid-March, we kicked off weekly

virtual High School Media Day sessions with

Point Park alumna and KDKA meteorologist

Mary Ours, whose session has now had more

than 900 views on Facebook and YouTube.

Other participants included Fast Company

reporter Zlati Meyer, students from Saegertown

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Preparing for High School Media

Day takes months of planning, organizing

and communicating, but the staff of the

Center for Media Innovation, student media

organizations and faculty of Point Park’s

School of Communications are happy to do

it. We want to inspire the next generation

of journalists, Point Park Pioneers and media

consumers with the different sessions

that make up the fall and spring day-long

events.

For the fall, the zombies were a part of the

plan, with the help of Point Park cinema

arts assistant professor Matt Pelfrey and student

makeup artist Maricela Valencia and our zombie

student volunteers. What the CMI staff didn’t

plan for – or couldn’t have planned for – was the

COVID-19 coronavirus and the campus closure

that cancelled our in-person spring event on

March 13.

Photo by Stacey Federoff

30 31



Community Outreach

High School Media Day - Fall Photos

Fall 2019 Participating High Schools:

• Freedom Area High School

• Mount Pleasant Area High School

• Bethel Park High School

• Pine-Richland High School

• Penn-Trafford High School

• Blackhawk High School

• Corry Middle/High School

• North Allegheny High School

• Shenango High School

• Avonworth High School

• Eden Christian Academy

• Allegheny Intermediate Unit

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Members of U-View, Point Park University’s student-run television station, lead a hands-on exercise with

local high school students in the CMI’s TV Studio.

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Public relations professor Bob O’Gara talks with a student during

his High School Media Day session on “Telling Your School’s Story.”

Fall 2019 Sessions and Leaders:

• PSPA Regional Journalism Contest

• Visual Effects with animation and visual effects professor

Jonathan Trueblood

• Podcast production with staff of student radio station

WPPJ

• Newswriting with staff of student newspaper The Globe

• TV production with staff of student TV station U-View

• Turning Your Passion Into A Career with local

professional photographers Brian Cook and Martha Rial

• Finding Story Ideas Where “Nothing” Happens with local

journalists Jamie Martines and Sonja Reis

• Using Public Relations to Tell Your School’s Story with

public relations professor Bob O’Gara

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Photo by Stacey Federoff

Students listen to a presentation by professional photographers

Brian Cook and Martha Rial as they talk about what makes a great

High School students prepare to draw a picture for a public

relations exercise during a session led by Point Park PR professor

Members of the student-run WPPJ radio station talk to local high

school students about podcast production.

photograph.

Bob O’Gara.

32 33



Community Outreach

High School Media Day - Spring Photos

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

To kick off the virtual event, photographer and adjunct PPU professor Richard Kelly talks about using

photographs to tell stories.

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

KDKA-TV meteorologist Mary Ours gives the viewers an inside-look

to life as a forecaster in a major television market.

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

Fast Company reporter Zlati Meyer talks about her background in

journalism, business reporting, and applying media skills to any

career.

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

Screenshot by Kaitlyn LaBelle

Innocence Institute founder and journalism professor Bill Moushey

tells his lifelong stories about reporting on crime and how those

New York Times reporter Sarah Mervosh shares her journey, which

started as a local high school newspaper editor at Mt. Lebanon

InspirePA director Andaya Sugayan talks about the importance of

civics in the lives of young adults and how voting always matters.

Robert Ross talks about how to keep social justice in mind while

reading the news, browsing social media, and watching TV and

who were wrongly accused found their freedom.

High School.

movies.

34 35



Community Outreach

Outreach workshops with

Pittsburgh-area high schools

show increase in media literacy

By Stacey Federoff, CMI Graduate Assistant

New survey data from the High

School Workshops hosted by the Center

for Media Innovation showed an increase

in student participants’ media literacy and

fake news awareness.

With about 50 students participating from

four different high schools this fall, students

were surveyed prior to each workshop,

then given the same survey afterward.

As part of each workshop, students learn

from a session to discuss these media

literacy topics.

When reviewing the survey results, respondents

reported a better understanding of

news when compared to information, facts

versus opinions, what makes something

news or newsworthy and how to spot fake

news. All questions showed an improvement

in the number of students who

“agree” or “strongly agree” on a five-point

scale.

In the spring, the CMI was able to host one

workshop with Brentwood High School,

which featured a social justice-focused live

podcast recording with Point Park professor

Dr. Robert Ross. Four other sessions

were scheduled, but had to be cancelled

because of the COVID-19 coronavirus shutdown

that closed the CMI and the rest of

Point Park’s campus.

This is the second year the CMI has hosted

these workshops for groups of about 20

students from individual Pittsburgh-area high

schools.

Students participate in a hands-on session

in the TV studio and control room, as well as

the media literacy session, podcast recording

and information about applying to Point

Park from the university’s admissions office.

Participating classrooms become CMI Affiliate

Schools and are welcome to shared resources,

as well as content from recorded and

livestreamed events.

“ I love this! I’m the media

teacher at Westinghouse

Arts Academy. We haven’t

been able to participate

in the live sessions due to

bussing. These digital ones

are perfect! Our school is

still in session and working

online. I would love to

leverage these sessions

as part of our curriculum.

Please keep them coming.”

- Elizabeth Speed

Photo by Stacey Federoff

36



Profiles

Outstanding Students

On-campus accomplishments shine

Editors Note: These profiles first appeared on Point Park University’s website.

Noah Fodor

Colton DeBiase

Profiles

Exceptional Alumni

Graduates make their mark

Editors Note: These profiles first appeared on Point Park University’s website.

Kalea Hall

Maggie Stasko

Major

Photography

Graduation

April 2021

“The [photography] program is rigorous and demands a lot,

but it fuels me every day to become the best artist ... Point

Park has given me everything I need to become a successful

artist and my professors have become sources of inspiration,

and influence me as I continue to make work.”

Marlee Pinchok

Major

Broadcast Reporting

Graduation

April 2022

“’Live Like Fred’ is an idea started by me and my mother. We

decided to go around the Pittsburgh area and interview

people whom we call inspiring neighbors. I hope to continue

to encourage everyone, young and old, to live like Fred.”

Mya Pici

Job Title & Employer

Automotive reporter, The Detroit News

Majors

Journalism, Multimedia (Multimedia, Graphic Design)

“When I left, I felt ready to tackle every story thrown at

me from the tearjerkers to the hard-hitting investigative

pieces that create change.”

Miles Ritenour

Job Title & Employer

Account Executive, BCW Global

Majors

Public Relations and Advertising

“I’ve always felt so prepared for what I do professionally

because of what I was taught at Point Park. Having

professors who are still in the field makes all the

difference because they’re able to teach from experience.”

Ryan Yorgen

Major/Minor

Broadcast Reporting, Broadcast Production and Media Management

Graduation

April 2021

“I chose Point Park because from the moment I started

looking at this school, I knew it would provide me with

exceptional hands-on experience both inside and

outside of the classroom.”

Major

Sports, Arts & Entertainment Management

Graduation

April 2021

“My marketing and sales classes have taught me so much

that I actually use in the real world. I was challenged to

plan an entire week of free programming for kids at the

Lamp Theatre this summer - something we’ve never

offered before.”

Job Title & Employer

Director of Marketing Communications, Bud Light -

Anheuser-Busch

Majors

Public Relations and Advertising

“I had great professors with journalism experience like

Helen Fallon, M.A., who really helped frame how I think

about how a particular marketing campaign can get news

Job Title & Employer

Producer, PensTV, Pittsburgh Penguins

Majors

Broadcast Production and Media Management

“Point Park has been instrumental in leading me to land

my dream job. Everyone who is a part of the School of

Communication was committed to helping me reach

my goals.”

coverage.”

38 39



Speaker Series

Media innovators headline

Playhouse speakers series

Speaker Series

Burke inspires students to see

strengths, embrace diversity

Photo by John Altdorfer

Joe Greco, chairman of the Point Park University board of trustees, listens to Jim

Acosta’s presentation.

CNN’s Jim Acosta, YouTuber and disability rights activist Molly

Burke, and National Public Radio reporter Quil Lawrence

headlined the 2019-20 Media Innovators Speaker Series at Point

Park University.

The series is presented by Point Park’s Center for Media

Innovation and the Pittsburgh Playhouse, in collaboration with

90.5 WESA. Sponsors for the event include Herbein + Co., the

Downtown Community Development Corporation, and

the Harris Grill.

2019-20 Media Innovation

Speaker Series

Molly Burke, Sept. 12, 2019

At just four years old, Burke was diagnosed

with a rare retinal disease that

caused a loss of vision. By age five, she

was an ambassador for the foundation

Fighting Blindness Canada. Today, she

is a highly sought after motivational

speaker and her weekly YouTube videos

reach a worldwide subscriber base of

more than 1.8 million.

Quil Lawrence, Oct. 17, 2019

Lawrence, a New York-based correspondent

for NPR News, covers veterans’

issues nationwide. He won a Robert

F. Kennedy Award for his coverage of

American veterans and Gracie Award for

coverage of female combat veterans.

He covered Iraq and Afghanistan for 12

years, serving as NPR’s bureau chief in

Baghdad and Kabul.

Jim Acosta, Feb. 6, 2020

Acosta, a chief White House correspondent

for CNN, regularly covers presidential

press conferences, visits by heads of

state and issues impacting the executive

branch. His new book, “The Enemy of

the People,” is an explosive, first-hand

account of the dangers he has faced

reporting on the current White House.

Neda Ulaby, May 7, 2020

NPR’s cultural affairs correspondent

Neda Ulaby was scheduled to appear

during the series, but shutdowns caused

by the COVID-19 pandemic forced a

cancelation.

Photo by Center for Media Innovation

YouTuber and disability rights advocate Molly Burke talks to the sold-out crowd inside the Highmark Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse.

YouTube sensation, disability rights

activist, author and social media influencer

Molly Burke spoke to a sold-out crowd

on campus at the Pittsburgh Playhouse,

as part of the 2019-20 Media Innovators

Speaker Series at Point Park University.

The event was hosted by the SAEM Club

and the Center for Media Innovation, in

collaboration with 90.5 WESA, Downtown

Community Development Corporation and

Herbein + Company, Inc.

“The Molly Burke event was a huge success

for SAEM Club! We are so happy that we

were able to partner with the CMI to bring

in such an inspiring speaker,” said Christy

Martin, a junior sports, arts and entertainment

management major and president of

the SAEM Club.

“Molly was so kind and friendly and I

greatly enjoyed working with her. Her story

brought tears to every audience member’s

eyes. We were all left feeling inspired by

her story and motivated to embrace what

makes us different. The show was sold

out and it couldn’t have gone any better!”

added Martin, a graduate of Walnut Hill

School for the Arts in Boston, Mass.

At four years old, Burke was diagnosed with

retinitis pigmentosa, a rare retinal disease

that causes a loss of vision. By age five,

she was an ambassador for the foundation

Fighting Blindness Canada. Today, she is

a highly sought-after motivational speaker,

with her weekly YouTube videos reaching

a worldwide base of nearly two million

subscribers.

“Molly was so pleasant to work with and her

story is incredible and so touching,” said

Shea O’Neill, a sophomore SAEM major and

vice president of the SAEM Club from Bishop

Canevin High School in Pittsburgh.

O’Neill added: “I am so glad that we, along

with the CMI, had the opportunity to bring in

such an uplifting and inspiring speaker.”

This article first appeared on Point Park

University’s website

40 41



Speaker Series

CNN’s Acosta knows what

you say about him

By Andrew Conte

Photo by Jason Cohn

CNN Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta talks with patrons before the Speaker

Series event.

Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House

correspondent, knows the terrible things

people say about him on social media.

No one person could keep track of all

the comments, and Acosta turned off his

Twitter alerts several years ago — partly

because of the volume of messages, but

also because President Donald Trump’s

supporters started harassing him and

making death threats.

Cesar Sayoc, the man who pleaded guilty

to sending pipe bombs to CNN and top

Democrats, also posted nearly a dozen

messages about Acosta, including one

showing a decapitated goat.

This, in the Trump era, comes with the

job of asking challenging questions of the

president.

“One of the things that has been an

education for me is the wild west of social

media,” Acosta told me recently by phone

from Washington. “It’s a new frontier for

I invited Acosta to speak at the Pittsburgh

Playhouse on Feb. 6 as part of the Media

Innovators Speaker Series, but not because

of his politics or mine. Instead, it was his

journalistic approach of asking

challenging questions — in his words, of

being an “equal opportunity pain in the

butt” — to anyone in power. We ended up

selling out the PNC Theater.

Is he tough on Trump? Yes, that’s who runs

the White House. But before that,

Acosta asked difficult questions of

President Barack Obama and Cuba’s

President Raúl Castro, and many others.

Also, unlike many of his inside-the-Beltway

contemporaries, Acosta cut his teeth

in local television, working at stations in

Knoxville, Dallas and Chicago before going

back to his hometown of Washington, D.C.

Having worked in both Washington and

in local news, I know that you have to

keep your elbows out when dealing with

small-town officials as much as you do with

Congressional lawmakers and White House

I hoped that Pittsburghers would get to see

a human side of Acosta by meeting him in

person, and hearing about how he came up

through the business and why he feels so

strongly about journalistic traditions and

responsibilities.

I did not, however, expect so many

Pittsburghers to react negatively to Acosta’s

appearance. The Pittsburgh Playhouse’s

Facebook page, where we promoted the

event, carries nearly 200 comments from

people saying mostly disparaging things

about Acosta and his work:

One Pittsburgh man who says he works for a

candy company and looks like a tuxedo-wearing

gentleman had this to say: “Jim Acosta is a

self-serving narcissist … He acts out to gain

self-indulgent atte tion while trying to push his

left -leaning agenda.”

A Greensburg woman who raised money on her

birthday to help kids with cancer said: “ [Acosta]

is a self-serving idiot that cares nothing about

reporting the truth. Fair journalism is a thing of

the past!”

My point is that these all seem like decent,

hard-working people based on their other

posts about their families and their pets.

They’re all people we recognize and know.

They are our neighbors and friends.

Photo by Jason Cohn

CNN’s Jim Acosta shares his stories of working

as a White House correspondent with a

near-capacity crowd inside the PNC Theatre

Speaker Series

But when it comes to Acosta and CNN and

asking honest questions of the president,

these people think nothing of going on

social media to say mean-spirited things.

Acosta, of course, takes in a broader scope

for this behavior because he encounters

it all across America. He has bodyguards

who travel with him to campaign rallies

because of the hecklers and because of the

potential for others like Sayoc, who might

try to do actual harm to him.

Acosta’s New York Times bestselling book,

“The Enemy of the People,” takes its title

from the president’s words, who has called

out journalists and news stations as if he’s

a Third World despot or a small-town

mayor who cannot handle legitimate

scrutiny from the Fourth Estate.

“It’s a deeply destructive force in our

politics right now … ,” Acosta told me.

“[Trump] has done this; he has put a bull’s

eye on the backs of reporters. And I think

what has happened is that some, not all,

of Trump’s supporters have absorbed

this rhetoric and directed it back at us in

ways that make us feel endangered and

threatened.”

Reporters who question this administration

and hold power accountable get labeled as

troublemakers.

We saw it again recently when Secretary

of State Mike Pompeo berated an NPR

journalist for asking about Ukraine and

why he had not done more to protect

the United States’ ambassador there.

That’s a legitimate question, but Pompeo

responded with a tirade and by blocking

another NPR correspondent from the State

Department’s next overseas trip. Trump

applauded him.

Politicians rarely like it when we ask

questions that challenge their authority.

I certainly have had plenty of elected

officials — governors, lawmakers, mayors,

council members — criticize me for asking

difficult questions. Sometimes they lashed

out, and other times they simply refused to

answer.

More than once, that frustration turned

personal.

A government employee joked about

running me over with his car after I worked

on an investigative project about how his

Photo by Jason Cohn

Acosta greets state Sen. Jay Costa (right) as President Paul Hennigan looks on.

office had been managing taxpayer money.

Mayor Tom Murphy used me as a foil in a

Hill District speech about how suburbanites

come into the city to work when he wanted

to win approval for a commuter tax.

It happens. At the local level, politicians

play to a smaller audience.

On a national stage, the president uses

aggressively harsh words to call out

journalists on television, on social media

and at his rallies. He does this with little

apparent regard for their safety. And his

supporters run to the scent.

“My concern is that you can have a situation

that is so volatile where you have a

reporter who is seriously hurt or killed,”

Acosta said. “We can’t have a situation like

that in this country. At the moment that

that happens, we cease being the United

State of America that you and I grew up in.

You can’t have journalists getting hurt and

beat up and that sort of thing because one

particular politician’s supporters don’t like

the coverage.”

Here in Pittsburgh, where we sit at a

continental divide between Trump’s

supporters and detractors, we risk more

than media coverage too. We all live together,

cheering on the Steelers, shopping at

Giant Eagle, making annual pilgrimages to

Kennywood.

Every four years, the presidential election

sweeps through our communities, sowing

division as candidates look for those few

swing votes that will tip the state in their

favor, with its 20 electoral college votes.

We’re only now recovering from the 2016

race. Most of us have learned how to get

through a family gathering without falling

into a bespittled rage, or how to see our neighbors

as more than the campaign signs they

put in their front yard.

But it’s hard. The way people are reacting to

Acosta’s appearance reminds us of that. The

coming months will be ugly and

divisive. We will want to tear apart at the

seams, along the neighborhood lines where

the campaign signs change over.

On his Twitter page, Acosta has pinned a

message for those who question the media:

“We are not the enemy of the people. I am

not your enemy. You are not my enemy. It

is wrong to call your fellow Americans the

enemy. We are all on the same team. We are

all Americans.”

As we lean into the 2020 presidential election

cycle, I hope we can remember too the values

— decency, hard work, friendliness — that we

like to think bind us together across southwestern

Pennsylvania. It won’t be easy, but

we’re better than our base instincts.

When Acosta comes to Pittsburgh, come out

to hear him speak and to get to know him better

as a person, rather than as someone you

see only on television. No one will ask you to

give up your ideology or political beliefs; you

just have to be open to seeing him, like all of

us, as fellow Americans.

This article has been adapted from a

column that originally appeared on

NEXTpittsburgh.

harassing and bullying journalists.”

42 executives.

at Pittsburgh Playhouse.

43



Speaker Series

‘Fake news’ claim follows

Acosta to Playhouse

By Luke Mongelli

Speaker Series

Once Conte and Acosta opened the

discussion to questions from the

audience, here’s what was asked:

Q: What is the best advice you have for

aspiring journalists in college?

A: Keep at it. We need reinforcements. This is the

best time to go into the business, but it is very

competitive. Do not be deterred, and do not be

afraid to screw up.

Q: How is the media aiding in the

promotion of bias?

A: Fox News is running a propaganda operation.

But we (CNN) try to hold their feet to the fire no

matter who is in power.

Photo by Jason Cohn

Q: What is one of the most

noticeable changes between the Trump

and Obama

Administrations for you?

Jim Acosta, the Chief White House

Correspondent for CNN, spoke at the

Pittsburgh Playhouse on Feb. 6 for another

installment in the Media Innovations

Speaker Series.

Acosta was welcomed with open arms by

some, but others in the audience shouted

out with cries of “fake news,” and

“Infowars,” among other claims of hateful

intent, which Acosta quickly diffused.

“You mean the same Infowars that claims

that the Sandy Hook shooting didn’t

happen?” Acosta responded.

Acosta sat down in the sold-out PNC

Theater with Point Park students and

community members alike to answer

questions, address the events taking place

in Washington D.C. and analyze some key

points in the most recent years of his career

with the popular news network.

Acosta was the third of four speakers to

participate in the Speaker Series. Andy

Conte, the director of the Center for Media

Innovation, organizes each of the speaker

series events and moderates the speeches.

“It was really great, there was a lot of

positive energy in the room,” Conte said

about his overall feeling of the event. “The

message was on point with what we were

trying to convey, and it had that star quality

with it. It was by far the most successful

series, and is going in the direction that we

want the speaker series to head.”

The packed audience included several

students of the university who were thrilled

with Acosta’s speech.

“I thought Jim Acosta was a very good

speaker, he was very personable while

still being professional,” freshman cinema

production major Sara Waldman said. “He

covered many different topics surrounding

his career…and spoke about his time with

both the Trump and Obama Administration.”

Acosta previously covered the Obama

administration, and is currently

overseeing the Trump administration on

behalf of CNN.

“Working during the Presidency of Donald

Trump is a challenge unlike any other I’ve

experienced in my career,” Acosta said during

his speech. “Trump is shattering the norms of

Washington.”

Acosta stated that President Trump has often

referred to the press as “the enemy of the

people,” and in turn, Trump has painted political

journalism as a prejudice-heavy industry.

“I don’t bring bias to my job,” Acosta said.

“This misleads people to think we are out to

report fake news. Trump has not only

dehumanized the press, he has de-Americanized

them.”

Throughout the speech, Conte played videos

of some key moments of Acosta’s most recent

coverage during the last two presidential

administrations he covered. Acosta discussed

a video he recorded on his cell phone of

supporters of President Trump, giving him the

middle finger and yelling profanities at him.

“If they call us the enemy of the people, I want

to give them a chance to correct it. So I want

it documented,” Acosta said. Then, in true

Pittsburgh fashion, Acosta said, “we could use

a little more Mr. Rogers in this world.”

This article was originally published in The

Globe.

A: I actually need bodyguards now, which is

something I never imagined I would have.

Q: How is the media changed by Trump

being the President?

“We are all

A: This will change over time. But the way the

media is portrayed today is a phenomenon associated

with this President

Americans. We all

Q: How do you put up with a

President who has put a target on your

back?

A: It is not easy. You just have to get tough. One

time we actually got a pipe bomb sent to the CNN

headquarters in D.C, and it was scary. People

have threatened me, and my family, and it is

some of the scariest stuff I have ever had to deal

with. You just have to get tough.

Photo by John Altdorfer

need to capture

that again in order

to go forward.”

44 45



Speaker Series

NPR reporter’s Veterans

coverage continues at home

By Hayley Keys

Speaker Series

through phones, radios and TV screens,”

Lawrence said. “The program is meant to

help find a veteran who cannot help themselves.”

Lawrence said the idea was good in theory,

but after meeting a veteran who had been

put on the alert, he began to understand the

controversy.

“Your name and health conditions would

be made public, and you know it could feel

very violating,” Lawrence said. “You might

not want everyone who doesn’t know me to

know that I have problems.”

Lawrence finished the talk by telling the

crowd lighthearted stories about the people

he gets to meet every day. He mentioned

that he feels blessed to have a job where he

gets to interact with unique individuals on a

daily basis.

“I get to have a lot of fun meeting really inspiring

people,” Lawrence said. “Most of these

guys are totally squared away and doing

really well and have, you know, transitioned

in whatever way they needed to.”

Maddy Sedberry, a sophomore SAEM major,

attended the event to earn shadowing

hours, but she said she ended up really enjoying

the experience.

“I think it’s really interesting to hear about

veteran affairs. And I mean I’ve heard about

the issues, but honestly I never thought

about tackling mental health as a part of

that,” Sedberry said. “I think it was really

interesting to hear his topics on that and

how it might change in the future.”

Zach Washington, a freshman SAEM major,

said that Lawrence helped him become

more aware of the struggles of veterans,

something he hopes to share with others.

“This kind of helped inform me on a lot of

things and now I’m more consciously aware

of these issues and I always enjoy having an

opportunity to learn,” Washington said.

Sedberry also mentioned she hopes to bring

awareness of veteran affairs to her fellow

peers.

“I think I’m gonna take the information

and just you know talk about it with my

peers and be like, ‘Hey, I just saw this great

speaker, and this is what we talked about,’”

Sedberry said.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in

The Globe.

Photo by Hayley Keys

WESA-FM reporter Chris Potter (left) moderates the discussion with Quil Lawrence in the Highmark Theatre.

Quil Lawrence is a National Public

Radio (NPR) correspondent who covers

veteran affairs around the world. On Oct.

17, as part of the Media Innovators Speaker

Series, Lawrence visited the Pittsburgh

Playhouse to talk to students and educators

about his experience as a journalist.

Lawrence said he spent many years acting

as a foreign correspondent in countries

like Iraq and Afghanistan, but he felt like he

wanted to do more.

“It just really started to occur to me that

I had something in common with [the

veterans], and I also wanted to understand

what it’s going to be like for them to come

home,” Lawrence said. “That was when I

started bothering NPR to bring me home

because there are all these reasons that we

need to see what happens, and we need to

make sure that America sort of makes good

on its contract with people.”

Lawrence spoke about his experiences

with different policies in place, and their

unintended consequences when it came to

veteran affairs.

“With the VA Mission, they decided they

are going to slowly expand this to all

veterans, but there are still a lot of problems,”

Lawrence said. “One of the biggest

problems that NPR has highlighted is that

people will get kicked off the program with

no explanation.”

According to Lawrence, the program was

created by the government to help caregivers

of veterans who are seriously injured.

He went on to talk about Matt Andrews,

a triple amputee who had recently been

kicked out of the program.

“He’s been through every manner of human

experience,” Lawrence said. “He’s been

homeless while a triple amputee, he’s dealt

with drug addiction and he was just kicked off

the caregiver program because the VA said he

hasn’t been making progress.”

Lawrence played a clip from one of his interviews

in which Andrews talked about his struggles

and his wife, Elizabeth, and mentions

the hardships they had been through.

“I’m still going to care for him, even if they

pay me or not,” Elizabeth said.

Another topic Lawrence talked about was

the Green Alert Program. This program was

implemented in Wisconsin, in an attempt to

decrease veteran suicide rates, but Lawrence

said it was met with controversy due to its

invasive nature.

“They instituted a Green Alert, and, like an

Amber Alert, it reaches people in the area

Photo by Center for Media Innovation

Prior to his presentation at the Pittsburgh Playhouse, Quil Lawrence talks with Carmen Gentile, military veteran and author of

Blinded by the Taliban. The roundtable discussion covered many topics related to media coverage of disabled veterans.

46 47



Events

‘Among Neighbors’ seeks

to spark conversation on

race, power and privilege

Events

The Healing Center launches

medical marijuana podcast

By Nick Ruffolo

By Tyler Polk

Screenshot by Tyler Polk

The Among Neighbors Podcast is a

collaboration between YWCA Greater Pittsburgh

and the Point Park Center for Media

Innovation.

The name of the podcast “Among Neighbors”

comes from the CMI sharing the same

building with the YWCA since its inception.

Andy Conte, the Director of the CMI, and

Barbara Johnson, the Senior Director of

Race and Gender Equity at YWCA Greater

Pittsburgh, are the hosts of this podcast.

The premise of the podcast is to have discussions

about race, power, and privilege

in the Pittsburgh region.

“People are always afraid to talk about

race,” Johnson said. “That was the

inspiration of this podcast, creating an

opportunity to have a person of color

and a white person to have honest

conversations.”

Conte and Johnson will have on guests

to talk about a variety of subjects from

Black people in the media, language,

housing, education, and law enforcement.

“Having guests on the podcast is what

I’m looking forward to the most,” Conte

said. “Having conversations like this

with Barbara, really encouraged us to

start this podcast.”

The goal of Among Neighbors is to create a

space where people in Pittsburgh can share

their experiences, have a conversation and

find solutions to racial issues in Pittsburgh.

Photo by Nick Ruffolo

When The Healing Center reached

out to the Center for Media Innovation,

its workers searched for more than

just a podcast.

They wanted to make a difference.

Even before the Medical Marijuana Act was

signed into law in 2016, Co-Founders Chris

Kohan and Jay Richards were campaigning

for innovation.

Several years later they found innovation

at the CMI.

Bi-weekly the THC team sits behind the

microphone to talk about the history of

medical cannabis and what it can do to

help patients that previously could not find

relief.

For example, host Mike Flick, Kohan, Richards

and Pharmacist/General Manager Dr. Michael

Butler all shared stories of patients prescribed

double-digit amounts of opioids, only to

find relief with the correct medical cannabis

treatment plan.

This aspect of healing led to the dispensary’s

name and the name for the podcast, “Healing

Hearts.”

Screenshot by Tyler Polk

48 49



Singer, songwriter Andy

Grammer talks perseverance

Photo by Tyler Polk

Events

During singer and songwriter Andy

Grammer’s recent visit to the Center for

Media Innovation, he told Point Park University

students, “Your purpose on earth is

extremely unique and only yours. The idea

that you can’t do it is just BS.”

After learning about his upcoming performance

at the Roxian Theatre in McKees

Rocks, Pa., Point Park University’s Public

Relations Director Lou Corsaro invited

Grammer to campus to offer career advice

to students pursuing performance and entertainment

management related careers.

Derek Makin, senior sports, arts and entertainment

management major and director

of booking and talent for the University’s

student run record label, Pioneer Records,

introduced Grammer.

“Do whatever it takes to make sure you are

always inspired. Getting inspiration is like

filling up your gas tank,” Grammer said.

He added: “Your biggest strength is building

your own fire and then waiting for

others to come feel its warmth.” Grammer

also discussed his recent Pollstar article,

“Guest Post: Andy Grammer’s Open Letter

To The Males Of The Touring World” and

how he grew his music career from the

ground up, performing in the streets of

Santa Monica, Calif., for six years before

landing his first major record deal.

After answering many questions from

students, Grammer left the students with

these two pieces of advice:

1. Always be of massive service to others.

2. Be relentless and go after what you want

like crazy.

Student Reactions to Grammer’s Advice:

“I found Andy’s humbleness the most inspiring.

He literally went from being a street

performer to selling out shows and has not

let the fame go to his head. He gave real,

honest, solid advice and was very helpful in

giving insight into the industry. He was very

interested in Point Park and really intrigued

and impressed by how involved the students

are in their fields.”

— Jenna Tarson, freshman SAEM major from

Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“I was really inspired by how Andy wants us

all to succeed and thrive. I really needed the

push that he gave when he told us that we’ll

never get anywhere unless we start working

now, and that now is the time to try new

things and to fail and get back up again. I

loved the power and drive that he gave us

and the passion behind his voice.”

— Kylie Thomas, freshman journalism major

from Struthers High School in Youngstown,

Ohio

“The key message and advice that I took

from Andy was to keep pushing forward in

life no matter what.”

— Mya Lane, sophmore theatre arts major

from Nazareth Prep High School in Emsworth,

Pa.

“ I was really inspired by how

Andy wants us all to succeed

and thrive. I really needed

the push that he gave when

he told us that we’ll never

get anywhere unless we start

working now, and that now

is the time to try new things

and to fail and get back up

again. I loved the power and

drive that he gave us and the

passion behind his voice.”

Photo by Tyler Polk

- Kylie Thomas

This article first appeared on Point Park

50 51

University’s website.



Events

NBC’s ‘Doc’ Emrick prescribes

tips for landing first job

By Noah Bieniek

“I enjoyed the time. Doc gave really good

advice in how to prepare for life after college

and stand out to employers.”

During the conference, Emrick mentioned

that he loves and enjoys his job. He can hang

around hockey teams while working, and

there is no rule that says you must hate your

job. He said he’s had some tough days, but

he’s never hated his job. Emrick explained

that you go to school so you can choose

what you want to do with your life. Make

sure you can enjoy it.

if anything else needs to be done.

“All this is about what the competition

doesn’t do.” Emrick said.

“To have someone from his background

to want to come back onto campus is

awesome,” Dani McSweeney, the graduate

assistant for the Pittsburgh Center for Sports

Media and Marketing, said. “It’s not normal

for a college student to be able to meet

someone with as much job experience and

someone who is calling the Pens-Avs game.

It’s a great opportunity for all students.”

The Penguins knocked off the Avalanche in

overtime 3-2 on Wednesday night to hand

the Avs their first loss of the season. Sidney

Crosby had two points and Brandon Tanev

scored his first career goal as a Penguin in

overtime to give the Pens the win, all with

Doc on the call.

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in

The Globe.

Emrick also listed to the students his best

job interview tips:

1. “Leave the Phone”- It’s a distraction.

2. “Give a Good Handshake”- A survey

in England in 2014 said two-thirds of managers

consider a strong handshake as a great

indicator, and it can either eliminate or keep

that person in contention for the position.

3. “Make Eye Contact”- Eye contact is

hard for every age group, but keep your eyes

on that person, and make them look away

from you.

4. “Always Overdress”- It shows respect.

Photo by Emma Federkeil

5. “Be early, and stay after”- On the

first day, all the workers will wonder about

you, and before you go, ask your supervisor

Photo by Emma Federkeil

It was a long ride for Mike “Doc” Emrick

in becoming one of hockey’s most prolific

voices in the broadcast booth.

On Wednesday Oct.16, the Pittsburgh

Penguins were playing the Colorado

Avalanche in the Wednesday Night Hockey

Game of the Week and Doc was calling

the game. So, on the Tuesday before, the

six-time Emmy Award winning play-by-play

announcer partnered with the Pittsburgh

Center for Sports Media and Marketing in

visiting and holding a talk on Point Park

University’s campus for students.

This was Emrick’s third appearance on

campus talking to Point Park students in

his career. He held a 35-minute presentation

of his favorite moments during his job

and telling stories to students about his

journey into the field of sports communication.

Emrick got his bachelor’s degree in speech

from Manchester University, his master’s

in radio/television from Miami (Ohio)

University, and then received his Ph.D. in

Communications from Bowling Green State

University.

Getting his first job was hard, Emrick said

as he sat in the corner of the rink during

games filming himself commentating

during the action. He sent his tapes to the

Pittsburgh Penguins. Doc was notified he

made the top three but did not get the job.

Mike Lange did.

“It made me feel good even though I didn’t

get the job. It gave me encouragement that

I had something if I kept working at it,”

Emrick said to the group of students.

“Do what no one else will do,” Emrick said.

“Go to newspapers and stations, carry a sample

of your work and knock on some doors.

They will say they don’t have time for you but

just be politely aggressive. You will be turned

down a lot, especially when you’re trying to

get that first job. Just believe in yourself and

don’t quit.”

Emrick earned his first job in 1973 to be the

play-by-play announcer for the Port Huron

Flags, and from there he didn’t look back. Doc

has spent time working with the Philadelphia

Flyers, New Jersey Devils, CBS, FSN, ABC,

TNT, ESPN, and is currently the lead play-byplay

announcer for national telecasts on NBC

and NBCSN. In his career, he has called 40

consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs, 20 Stanley

Cup Final series, 12 NHL All Star games, and

numerous Olympic hockey games.

“Doc is one of my favorite announcers in all

of sports,” attendee Tyler Bornschlegel said.

52

Photo by Emma Federkeil

53



Profiles

Dean Ankney seeks to wake

sleeping giant at Point Park

Point Park University hired a dean

for the School of Communication that will

begin this summer.

Provost and Senior Vice President for

Academic Affairs John Pearson sent an

email addressed to faculty and staff on

Jan. 24 announcing the hiring of Raymond

“Bernie” Ankney, Ph.D., as the Dean of the

School of Communication.

“I think he will not only create new academic

and professional opportunities for

students, but I think he will bring in a lot

more students to the School of Communication,

and I think he will bring the kind

of attention that the school deserves,”

Pearson said.

Ankney will come to Point Park from Samford

University in Birmingham, Ala., where

he served as Chair of the Journalism and

Mass Communication Department for 13

years.

In June 2018, Ankney announced that the

2018-2019 school year would be his last

as Chair, and he began searching for dean

positions that fall.

“When the Point Park position opened, I

was just ecstatic,” Ankney said. “I grew up

in western Pennsylvania, and I’ve always

viewed Point Park as a sleeping giant. This

is a university that has so much potential.”

Pearson is optimistic about Ankney’s future

at the university due to his “track record

of success.” In the email from the Office of

the Provost, Pearson explains that during

Ankney’s time as Chair at Samford, he advanced

the university in various ways.

Photo by Kate Sullivan Green

“His record of success is important because

it shows that he can not only see what’s

possible, but he can work with the faculty

and think, ‘how can we get from where we

are to where we want to be,’” Pearson said.

Associate Professor of Broadcast Production

Robin Cecala chaired the search committee

for the School of Communication

dean and also vouched for Ankney’s ability

to “click” with the faculty.

“He had the experience we were looking

for,” Cecala said. “He really had the enthusiasm.

He was really excited about Point

Park. He really had a lot of good ideas.

You really felt like he was going to come in

here and do his best to push the School of

Communication forward, unite everybody

Ankney wants to focus on recruitment,

raising money for students, alumni outreach

and even detailed a few specific ideas he has

for the school, with an ultimate goal to make

Point Park a national program.

“There are some things that Point Park does

that nobody else is doing, and I think this

program right now is in a great place to take

off and really grow,” Ankney said.

One of Ankney’s ideas is to introduce a

sports communication major.

“I think there is enormous potential to have

a sports communication major in Pittsburgh,”

Ankney said. “I would love to partner

with the professional sports teams since

Point Park has so many alumni working

there. Our sports media minor at Samford

the country. I feel very confident that the

sports communication program, maybe

we’ll partner with [Rowland School of Business]

on that, will be a huge draw and bring

many new students to Point Park.”

Another idea of Ankney’s focuses on entrepreneurial

journalism.

About eight to nine years ago, Ankney

noticed that about a third of his journalism

students were starting their own businesses,

and he would like faculty and alumni

to help seniors create business plans that

will allow graduates to successfully start

their own publications or businesses.

“I very much think a future of journalism

education should be focusing on giving

students the skills they need to start their

own publications and their own production

businesses,” Ankney said.

Ankney plans to emphasize the importance

of student media at Point Park, on-campus

experience he views as “invaluable.”

Additionally, Ankney wants to create a

Student Advisory Committee to hear from

all School of Communication students on

how he can better serve them.

Ankney’s action plans align with Pearson’s

observation that Ankney is student- and

teacher-focused. Ankney will even teach a

course during his first semester on campus.

“I’m really happy that Bernie wants to take

that time and get to know our students

to teach and be known as a teacher and

an administrator who strongly values the

role of teaching in the work of the faculty,”

Pearson said.

Pearson says Ankney is not only intelligent,

but he has a social, relational and emotional

IQ that makes him great with people.

“He’s sincere, he’s honest, he’s very direct,”

Pearson said. “As a candidate, he was one

of the most direct people I’ve ever interviewed

in my career.”

Pearson noted the School of Communication

has “really exceptionally talented

faculty” who “care deeply about what they

do.” Pearson said it’s important to bring in

a dean that will work well with the existing

faculty.

Overall, Pearson believes Ankney is a great

fit for the position.

“He was great because he was just being

Bernie, and he was being himself,” Pearson

said. “He wasn’t trying to prove himself. He

was just being himself, and to me that said

everything.”

Ankney desires a collaborative effort and

encourages students, faculty and staff to

approach him with ideas to better the entirety

of the School of Communication.

“I think the potential is just incredible, and

I am honored to be chosen for this role and

for it to be in an area of the country that I

just absolutely adore,” Ankney said.

This article first appeared on Point Park

University’s website

About Bernie Ankney

Ankney is a Ligonier, Pa. native and said he

was “one of those kids who knew he was

going to be a journalist at a young age.”

Around ages thirteen and fourteen, Ankney

was writing sports stories for the Ligonier

Echo including softball, baseball and other

high school sports. He graduated from Ligonier

High School in 1983.

Ankney’s young desires became reality as

he graduated from Indiana University of

Pennsylvania (IUP) with a journalism degree

in 1987. He then moved to Washington D.C.

and worked as a reporter for health science

publications for five years.

In 1992, Ankney moved to Johnstown, Pa.

and worked at Conemaugh Health System

as Director of Scientific Communication and

also started his own magazine, Western PA

Medicine.

In 1996, Ankney earned his master’s from

Syracuse University and then went to University

of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for

his doctorate.

Ankney held his first teaching job at Temple

University in Philadelphia, Pa. and accepted

an offer in 2002 back at IUP as a faculty

member before being promoted to Program

Director. Then, Ankney accepted the

position he is currently finishing at Samford

in 2006.

Open Records director answers

local journalists’ RTK questions

Erik Arneson, director of the

Pennsylvania Office of Open Records, led

a workshop Oct. 1 on the state’s Right-To-

Know law that governs the public record

requesting process. About 25 professionals,

including journalists and grant-writers,

attended.

Among Ankney’s feats at Samford, Ankney

raised the national profile of the journalism

major, doubled enrollment in the department’s

academic programs, increased

annual fundraising and established interdisciplinary

programs.

and provide a good future for us.”

has allowed me to bring kids in from all over

54 Photo By Tyler Polk

55



Events

Mat Kearney urges students to

make their own music for success

By Lou Corsaro

Events

Always up to something: CMI hosts

local media visitors year-round

‘YaJagoff!’ sits all over CMI couches

The YaJagoff podcast, hosted by John

Chamberlin and Rachael Rennebeck, recently

visited the CMI to record an episode with

retired Steelers’ linebacker Arthur Moats.

The pair talked with him about his book,

“Moats’ Theory of Life: A Guide to Becoming

a Person of Impact and Inspiration.”

Photo By Nick Ruffolo

PTL goes live from Third & Wood

Photo by Meghan Zaffuta

Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney poses with SAEM students and faculty after his presentation.

Point Park alumna Celina Pompeani of KDKA

hosted a segment of Pittsburgh Today Live

from inside the CMI, talking with Point Park

President Paul Hennigan and Leatra Tate,

visiting assistant professor of psychology,

about what’s happening at Point Park and

how students can combat homesickness.

Imitation might be the sincerest form of

flattery, but it also can get pretty boring for

the person making copies.

Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney told Point

Park University students that he started

making his own music when he got tired of

playing covers of other people’s songs.

“Honestly, I started writing music …

because I liked music, but I was terrible

at covering other bands,” Kearney said. “I

just started playing a couple of chords and

making stuff up.”

Kearney visited the Center for Media

Innovation on Friday, Jan. 31, prior to his

sold-out show at the Roxian Theatre in Mc-

Kees Rocks. Before an audience of dozens

of students and faculty members, Kearney

his start, the business lessons learned

along the way, and why he decided

to release his latest album independently.

He spent 45 minutes answering

questions from students, many of whom

have their own dreams about entering

the music and entertainment industry

after graduation.

Kearney talked about his own journey

from the classroom to the stage. While

studying in California, he met a guy who

was moving to Nashville to be a music

producer. He asked Kearney to help him

move there, and urged him to stay.

It worked out. Since then, Kearney has

found success with hit songs such as

“Nothing Left to Lose,” “Ships in the Night”

and “Closer to Love.” He has scored

eight Top 25 songs on the U.S. Adult

Photo By Tyler Polk

Three anchors go ‘Off The Record’

Ahead of its Oct. 3 performance, Off The Record

brought some notable names and belly laughs

to the CMI for a press conference. Every year

since 2001, News Guild of Pittsburgh and

SAG-AFTRA Ohio-Pittsburgh members perform

a musical satire about the region’s headlines,

which has raised more than $600,000 for the

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Photo By Tyler Polk

talked about his career music – how he got Contemporary chart.

Photo by Meghan Zaffuta

56 57



The

Washington-based

Economic Hardship

Reporting

Project commissioned

Unabridged

Press’s All-Abilities

Media and the CMI

to create an illustration

that tells

the story of Kate

Blaker, an advocate

for people with

disabilities. She

collaborated with

illustrator Stacy Innerst

to create this

graphic narrative.

Pittsburgh City Paper

published the

story in June 2020,

and the Pittsburgh

Media Partnership

featured it online.

58 59



Center for Media Innovation

201 Wood Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15222

NON PROFIT

ORGANIZATION

U.S. POSTAGE

PAID PITTSBURGH, PA

PERMIT NO. 1674

60

Phone

412-392-8055

Physical Address

305 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222

Mailing Address

201 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222

Website

pointpark.edu/cmi