CMI 2020 Annual Report


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:



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



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.


Andrew Conte

Director, Center for Media Innovation

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