MON VALLEY INTO
See Page 8
REPORTS ON NAVAJO
See Page 10
MARKETERS USE TIKTOK
TO REACH NEW
See Page 24
HONOR A STORYTELLER
See Page 7
The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park
University stimulates creative thinking about
the present and future of storytelling among
young people, professionals and the public,
focusing on narrative, entrepreneurship
and community engagement.
On the Cover
Comocrea Johnson took the cover image when she became a member of the Mon
Valley Photography Collective and toured Kennywood park before it opened for
the 2021 season (pg. 8). She captured a photograph of fellow participant Jennifer
McCalla in action.
About the photographer:
Hello, I’m Comocrea Johnson, and I love photography! I work in social service at Pittsburgh-area nonprofits and reside in
the Mon Valley with my husband and children.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed landscape, nature and street photography. During the pandemic, I picked up
a camera on a whim. I had no idea how much photography would nurture my soul or how much I would need it! I haven’t
set my camera down since, including as part of the Mon Valley Photography Collective through the McKeesport Community
Post-pandemic, I hope to continue connecting with others and learning through photography about patience and
authentically seeing the beauty in all that life has to offer.
Join me on this journey on Instagram @c.johnson.photograpy.
It’s been a while since we last got together.
I mean, we’ve seen each other on Zoom and Teams, and we’ve connected countless
times on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. But we haven’t been together in person
for quite a while.
Don’t worry: We have stayed busy.
Over the past year, we found innovative ways to make connections.
We hosted a series of virtual workshops for high school students,
and we featured sessions for professionals and the public on topics
such as TikTok marketing and political campaigns. To our surprise,
some of these events drew viewers from around the country, farther
than we could have reached with in-person events.
We built on these lessons to help nonprofits reach wider audiences
too. Our virtual programming clients this year included Humane
Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh, the Corporate Equity & Inclusion
Roundtable, the Downtown CDC, League of Women Voters, South Hills
Interfaith Movement and more.
Within our own programs, we persevered in often unexpected ways.
At our McKeesport Community Newsroom, more than a dozen people contributed
to a community pandemic diary – and one person, Jim Busch, wrote an original post
every day for a year. He talked about how he had to sit in the parking garage while
his wife learned about having cancer, and he wrote about people dying from and
living with COVID-19.
Photograph By Emma Federkeil
The Pittsburgh Media Partnership shared regional stories about the pandemic and
helped its 20-plus news outlets survive. Now, it has taken aim at another unexpected
outcome of the crisis, mental health concerns, with a new round of reporting.
Our All-Abilities Media project looked for benefits that might come from the pandemic
as people with mobility challenges were able to gather virtually online. Our
new show, A Valid Podcast, featured conversations with leading newsmakers such as
Sen. Bob Casey and directors of the Oscar-nominated Crip Camp documentary.
The Doris O’Donnell Fellowship relaunched in early 2021 and drew a record number
of proposals from across North America. These pitches remind us that many
journalists still believe in their ability to uncover revealing stories that make our
communities stronger. The $20,000 recipient intends to find out what happened to
thousands of children in the Navajo Nation who disappeared from official attendance
records when schools went remote.
When we finally are able to get together again, we will be prepared to draw from the
lessons we learned during this crisis. You can be sure that our programming will be
even more dynamic and relevant than before. We will see you soon!
— Andrew Conte, Ph.D.
All-Abilities Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
McKeesport Community Newsroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Doris O’Donnell Fellowship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
Pittsburgh Media Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
High School Workshops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Student Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
Alumni Profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Emerging Technology In Journalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
What Every Communicator Needs To Know About TikTok . . . . . . . .24
Sports Media During a Pandemic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
From Our Studios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
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.
Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Reporting Fellowship
FISA Foundation, individual donors, and an anonymous trust
All-Abilities Media Project
The Heinz Endowments & Henry L. Hillman Foundation
Pittsburgh Media Partnership
The Pittsburgh Foundation
McKeesport Community Newsroom
Physical Address 305 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA 15222
Mailing Address 201 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA 1522
Newsletter Sign-Up tinyurl.com/CMINewsletters
Andrew Conte, Ph. D.
Tara Maziorz Myers
Project director, Bridge Pittsburgh Media
Project manager, McKeesport Community
Jennifer Szweda Jordan
Project manager, All Abilities Media
Project manager, Doris O’Donnell Fellowship
Annual Report compiled by
Alexis Wary Honors Student
Annual Report designed by
Cassandra Pittas Practicum Student
A Valid Podcast features newsmakers such as
‘Crip Camp’ directors and U.S. Senator Bob Casey
By Jennifer Szewda Jordon
The All-Abilities Media team launched A Valid Podcast
just as the pandemic emerged in 2020, bringing
awareness to the fact that people with disabilities are
two to four times more likely to die or to be harmed
in a disaster.
When medical systems are overwhelmed, people
with disabilities are, historically speaking, not
prioritized in treatment. The podcast challenges the
use of the word “invalid,” which is still sometimes
used to refer to people with certain disabilities and
evokes discrimination and exclusion.
Recorded remotely, the show focuses on conversations
among people who have disabilities and newsmakers
such as U.S. Senator Bob Casey and an official from the
Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. An episode
with directors of the Sundance-winning film Crip Camp,
which documents the Woodstock-era roots of the disability
rights movement, streamed live on Facebook and reached
more than 17,000 viewers.
The podcast’s first season also explored the “joy of sex” for
people with disabilities—a group often considered
asexual and even historically restricted from physical
intimacy. Disability Pride Pennsylvania’s parade director
previewed the online event, which also included
conversations about sexuality in the disability community
among its educational workshops.
The podcasts have featured several people, starting with
disability advocate Alisa Grishman, who took the mic at the
beginning. She later served as the show’s lead analyst, and
as a podcasting mentor to other people with disabilities.
For Season Two, the co-hosts were two sisters who have
what they describe as invisible disabilities. One, Alana
Gibbs, has multiple sclerosis, and the other, Darah Thompson,
has a bipolar diagnosis.
Thompson previously participated in a podcast workshop
through the All-Abilities Media Project. In an effort to
support the voices of people of color, the team reached
out to the sisters and offered them the technical, editorial
and production support they needed to guide the show.
They immediately agreed.
“I’m excited to show a Black face for people with disabilities,”
Thompson said. “We are definitely underrepresented.”
The sisters have led discussions with All-Abilities Media team
reporters as well as disability icons Judy Heumann and
In an effort to reach as many people as possible, most episodes
have captions and transcripts, and the live video programming
features ASL interpreter Alison Bartley.
A Valid Podcast features discussions with newsmakers, disabilities advocates and journalists. This episode includes
freelance reporters Mary Niederberger and John Miller, and offers ASL translation
A tribute to a storyteller who made an impact:
By Jennifer Szweda Jordan
The All-Abilities Media project launched a new website in 2020 that pulls together the content it creates to give
everyone a place to learn more information about its programming.
Every person we meet leaves their mark on us, for good or ill
(often a little of both). One man I knew through the
All-Abilities Media Project left an undeniably positive impact
on me, though we only talked briefly before he died.
His name was David Hale, and in January he came to the
Center for Media Innovation to read a passage from the
Americans with Disabilities Act. The reading was in a video as
part of ADA at 30: Accessibility in Pittsburgh, co-published by
PublicSource and Unabridged Press.
After recording David’s reading, our production crew had
extra time. David was happy to share more of his story for
over an hour. He started by saying he had spina bifida.
“When I was 4, my mother told me that there was a purpose
for my life,” Hale said. “And that really helped me to feel like
there was something for me here in this world to do.”
people with disabilities, and we were incredibly privileged
that David allowed us to share his story.
Then, several months after David visited with us, his sister,
wrote to tell me he’d died. He had cancer, but his sister
Tonya Hale, said his death was owed to multiple infections.
David was 40.
I headed over to his Facebook page and saw posts celebrating
David’s life. One of them was from Calabro, who pointed out
that he last spoke on stage with the Woodlands camp at an
event at the August Wilson African-American Cultural Center.
She passed on a quote from Hale’s talk:
“What’s my purpose?” Hale asked aloud. “It’s to join in on the
good work of making this world a better place. That’s a
purpose we all can unite around in the big story of life.”
What he did was share personal stories to encourage youth
and others. He didn’t gloss over the difficult parts of life. He
spoke of isolation and faith in this podcast.
“He was passionate about opening minds to the lessons found
in the lives of great people of the past — and within each of
us,” said local disability advocate and writer Tina Calabro.
“David affected many, many people through his openness for
sharing himself and caring for others’ personal growth.”
The All-Abilities Media Project amplifies the stories of
New opportunities spring from pandemic for McKeesport
By Martha Ria
McKeesport Community Newsroom
At first, it seemed like the pandemic threatened to derail all of the
work the McKeesport Community Newsroom has been doing to
bring citizens together to tell their own journalistic stories through
words, images and sounds. Instead, the crisis created new
opportunities for people to collaborate online and outdoors.
Some highlights include:
• Tube City Writers and Mon Valley Photography Collective
Debut Anthology: Members of Tube City Writers and the
Mon Valley Photography Collective published their first
anthology, Tube City Tales. The magazine features original
writing and photographs that celebrate the Mon Valley
experience by Mon Valley residents.
• Award-winning Journalists Mentor Mon Valley Teens in Free
Weekly Workshop: Voices from the Valley provided a free weekly
workshop for Mon Valley teenagers on how to develop audio and
interviewing skills to make their own podcast. Students learned
how to interview members in their community in order to tell
untold and underreported stories. Students also experienced
using audio apps such as Audacity to create a narrative with
recorded interviews, scripts, music and world-building sounds.
Kennywood - Jennifer McCalla
• Mon Valley Photography Collective explores Carrie Furnace
and Round Hill Park: The collective partnered with Venture
Outdoors to hold outings at two local sites. Participants explored
the Carrie Furnace Historic Landmark, a former steel mill in
Rankin that at its peak employed 15,000 laborers and produced
1,000 to 1,250 tons of iron per day. On a separate day in winter,
they visited Round Hill Exhibit Farm and Park, an 1,101-acre
park and its exhibit farm of animals in Elizabeth Township
operated by Allegheny County Parks Department.
• YouthCAST documents faces of McKeesport for a photography
mural: McKeesport Community Newsroom worked with local
students from YouthCAST, a youth leadership program based in
McKeesport, to photograph more than 20 Mceesport residents
representing a wide range of ages and backgrounds at Gergely
Park, Renzie Park and Kane Community Living Center. The
resulting images will be displayed in a larger-than-life
photography mural that celebrates McKeesport’s diversity
and community spirit.
Winter - Comocrea Johnson
McKeesport Area High School junior Nya O’Neal (left)
photographs Sheriyah Price (right) and her brother Shylor Price, of
McKeesport, at Gergely Park in McKeesport on
October 18, 2020.
Photograph By Martha Rial
The Mon Valley Photography Collective was invited to
photograph Kennywood Park before the park
opened for its 2021 season.
Photograph By Nick Paradise
Pondering racism during the pandemic
By Dahnayl Champine
The following is an excerpt from Tube City Tales, the debut anthology of Tube
City Writers and Mon Valley Photo Collective. Printed copies of the full-color,
28-page publication are still available; contact program director Martha Rial
Why does it matter what shade of color you are? When I choose
my friends, it’s not because they are black or white. What should
matter is if you are smart or kind. People come in all different
shades of colors. They should be judged by their intelligence
and not because they’re different.
I never understood what discrimination was until we had to
quarantine. I remember my mom talking about George Floyd
getting killed. I felt scared, mad, and afraid. The first thing I
did was go to the internet. I wanted to see for myself why my
mom was so sad. I saw them kill him because he was Black,
and I’m Black too. I imagined this happening to me. I
wondered, if I was walking down the street, would the police
kill me for being black?
In conclusion, I don’t know why people discriminate, but I
can say it is ugly to have those feelings about people you
don’t know. I don’t care if a person is yellow, all that matters
is, are they a good friend to me and the people around them.
If I am ever discriminated against I don’t know how I
will handle it. It’s a scary situation. If I speak up, will
something happen to me?
Dorris O’Donnell Fellowship
Sunnie Clahchischiligi of Searchlight New Mexico wins
$20,000 media fellowship from Center for Media Innovation
By Andrew Conte
Fellowship winner looks for Navajo Nation’s missing school children
After receiving more than 40 applications from across the
United States, judges for the Doris O’Donnell Innovative
Journalism Fellowship selected 10 finalists and three ultimate
winners of grant money, including Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi, a
member of the Navajo Nation who will be writing for Searchlight
New Mexico about educational challenges on the reservation.
Clahchischiligi received a $20,000 grant to investigate what
happened to thousands of Navajo children who disappeared
from school attendance records during the pandemic. More than
half of students on the portion of the reservation in New Mexico
lacked internet access or computers at home when the
pandemic started – and for many, no one ever fixed the
problem despite government funding that poured into schools.
“It’s no secret that the pandemic has been devastating for
Navajo students, who even in the best of times struggle with
one of the worst educational systems in the country,”
Searchlight’s deputy editor Amy Linn wrote in the fellowship
application. “Indeed, the coronavirus is said to have created a
‘lost year’ for American students in general. But on the
reservation, students themselves have actually been lost.
Thousands of Native students disappeared off the attendance
rolls when education went online. Where did the children go?
Where do they live? Were they enrolled in any school,
anywhere? No one seemed to know…”
Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi
Searchlight, like many of the news outlets that applied for
funding this year, operates as a nonprofit newsroom and
grew out of local journalists’ concerns about the lack of
reporting in their community. All three of the fellowship
winners work at nonprofit newsrooms.
Second- place winner
Third- place winner
Georgia’s toxic waste
Judges awarded a second-place prize of $5,000 to Laura
Courley, a freelance writer for The Current, a nonprofit
newsroom that started up in and around Savannah,
Georgia,during the pandemic.
Courley plans to investigate the toxicity of the waterways
near Brunswick, Georgia, where tons of toxic waste was
dumped by factories for decades, leaving behind federal
Superfund sites. The Gullah Geechee people, descendents
of enslaved Africans, are among the most affected, while
some of Georgia’s most affluent communities exist
across a causeway.
“Local officials worried about the image of these wealthy
retreats are loathe to acknowledge the simmering
environmental crisis around these two Superfund sites,”
Courley wrote in her application. “The Current seeks to do
what government regulators have not: discover how toxic
are the waterways, what dangers lurk for low-income
communities who survive from this seafood and what
threats exist for the local sea life.”
‘Milking’ rental tenants for profits
Rich Lord, a reporter for Pittsburgh nonprofit PublicSource,
proposed a deep probe into the practice of “milking” by
landlords in the industrial Monongahela River Valley, whereby
people obtain properties as cheaply as possible, spend little on
upkeep, dodge enforcement efforts, and churn through tenants
using eviction to maximize profits.
The judges awarded Lord a $2,500 third-place prize. Lord
wrote in the application that he wants to create a
“user-friendly open interface” to give renters data on
landlords’ eviction histories and to “explore longer-term
solutions, like improved or standardized code enforcement,
that could raise quality of life for tenants floundering in
About the Doris O’Donnell Fellowship
Provided By StoryWorks.tv
Each of the fellows will have until the end of calendar year 2021 to complete their reporting projects, and they will be asked to engage
with Point Park University students throughout the fall semester.The fellowships honor the legacy of Doris O’Donnell, 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 to 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, where she worked for 15 years.
The Allegheny Foundation generously supports the fellowships with a three-year grant. For more information,
please visit DorisODonnellFellowship.com.
Doris O’Donnell Fellowship
Finalist from across the country propose in-depth
Judges for the Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship identified seven finalists for this year’s competition
(listed below in alphabetical order).
Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation received more than 40 applicationsfrom across the United States focused on diverse
topics. The CMI announced the winners of the three prizes - $20,000, $5,000 and $2,500 on April 14.
Sam Baumel // New York City, NY // Creative Produce
Follow the attendance officers, employed by Detroit schools,
who are tasked with looking for clues as to where they will
find thousands of missing students via a stereoscopic virtual
reality video, putting the audience in the center of the scene,
face to face with the characters. The intent is to shed light on
the gross inequalities pervasive throughout the United States,
especially within urban communities like Detroit, which have
been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Ciara McCarthy // Victora, TX // The Victoria Advocate
Take a broad look at the social safety net that exists in the
“Crossroads” of Texas, specifically focusing on DeTar
Healthcare System, the for-profit hospital system that
regularly sues patients for outstanding medical debt. DeTar
is owned by the fourth-largest for-profit operator of hospitals
in the U.S. The project would look specifically at this
hospital system’s practices, but also at how a region with so
many uninsured and underinsured adults grapples with
paying formedical and mental health care more broadly.
Tasmiha Khan // Bridgeview, IL // Freelance Writer
Investigate the discrimination Muslim students face in
institutions of higher education and what efforts are made
to improve racial equity to help address structural barriers
and identify educational opportunity gaps—especially for
those who are first generation immigrants and Muslims.
Kate Martin // Carrboro, North Carolina // Carolina Public
Using a combination of court data, foster care data and
deeply-sourced interviews with foster parents, advocates,
law enforcement, court personnel, parents and children
(with parental oversight), Carolina Public Press (CPP) will
investigate the frequency and causes of failures in
county-run foster care programs, which are in a
well-documented crisis, but one for which the political
will to repair is lacking.
The judges this year include seven leading national journalists and
academics, including two new people who joined the process this
time around – columnist Salena Zito and Wall Street Journal editor
Andrew Fraser. The panelists are (in alphabetical order):
Anya Slepyan // Philadelphia, PA // The Daily Yonder
Report on the ways prison expansion has affected the
disproportionately poor and rural communities that
host prisons, particularly by changing the career
opportunities, and therefore educational priorities, of young
people in those communities as they go from
under-resourced rural students to prison guards, a
less-studied element of mass incarceration.
Jason Strother // Seoul, New York City // Independent
Investigate how New Jersey’s pandemic response excluded
people with disabilities by speaking with people from diverse
backgrounds as well as their families and caregivers to learn
how they adapted to challenges brought on by COVID-19
while exploring how a more inclusive disaster protocol,
increased disability representation in healthcare governance
and the use of assistive technology could improve access to
equal disease prevention, treatment and care.
Vanessa Swales // Milwaukee, Wisconsin // Wisconsin
Support News414, a collaboration between Wisconsin
Watch and Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, that
delivers information to Milwaukee residents via text, social
media and the websites of each nonprofit news partner.
News414 has cultivated a network of about 2,300 text
subscribers who can connect directly with reporters. Texting
conversations between reporters and residents are
inspiring more traditional stories that seek solutions to
problems ranging from racial disparities in policing to
Milwaukee’s housing crisis.
A former executive at The Wall Street Journal and
New York Times who is now a visiting professor
at Northwestern University, collaborating with
colleagues at the Medill School on the Local News
Initiative. 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.
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.
A senior publishing editor at The Wall Street
Journal. He spent time as editor of the Valley News
Dispatch newspaper in suburban Pittsburgh and
as business editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Fraser also worked nearly two decades at the
Associated Press in newsroom management roles
and as a reporter and editor.
An investigative reporter for the Cincinnati
Enquirer, she is part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning
team at the newspaper, 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.
A Pittsburgh-based staff writer for CityLab, a
standalone website from Bloomberg Media that
explores trends shaping our country’s urban
future, and captures the creativity and vibrancy
of our increasingly urbanized world.
A 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
incident in which U.S. soldiers shot three
unarmed deaf Iraqi boys.
A contributor to The Wall Street Journal and
RealClearPolitics, Washington Examiner reporter
and New York Post columnist, as well as coauthor
of “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition
Reshaping American Politics.”
Pittsburgh Media Partnership
Pittsburgh Media Partnership adapts to the crisis
The Pittsburgh Media Partnership did not launch in the
way that anyone expected but instead responded to
challenges the Covid-19 pandemic presented to local
journalism across southwestern Pennsylvania. Several
• The Partnership added several new members:
The Incline, QBurgh, The Allegheny Front
and Talk Magazine.
• The Partnership provided more than $18,000 in
technology grants to local media outlets, and helped
facilitate access to more than $30,000 in grants from
other funders such as the Knight Foundation and the
Facebook Journalism Project.
• Media outlets started reporting out their pandemic
stories on a unified website, TheBigStoryPGH.com.
• The Parnership promoted partner collaborations that
benefitted individuals, institutions and the greater
community by amplifying voices and more.
• The Henry L. Hillman Foundation provided a
$150,000 grant to help the local media ecosystem
recover from damages caused by the COVID-19
pandemic. The programming includes: an internship
program for the summer of 2021 and work to foster
shared resources such as accounting and legal
services, create a shared technology library and start
a business incubator program for media startups.
• Freelance writer Hal B. Klein produced an original
news enterprise story for the entire collaborative that
focused on how Pittsburgh’s Black farmers are
working to grow a new future. The story looked at
how a small group of new farmers have seeded a
movement to change the local food industry. It
raised questions about whether COVID-19’s impact
on the local ecoomy will set them back, or if the
pandemic and a growing push for new social justice
might actually help.
• Two participants, Trib Total Media and Spotlight PA,
collaborated to add a full-time reporter who focuses
on “elevating the concerns of Western Pennsylvania
throughout” statewide reporting, “not only better
connecting Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, but fostering a
better understanding between Pittsburgh and communities
elsewhere in the state.” Trib Total Media joined
the Philadelphia Inquirer and PennLive/Harrisburg
Patriot-News as a governing partner in the Spotlight
organization, replacing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
which withdrew in 2020.
• Journalists from three partners, the Incline, The Mon
Valley Independent and Gazette 2.0 collaborated on a
story depicting the struggles students in the Pittsburgh
area face accessing internet services for online learning
during the pandemic
(see more pg 15).
Researchers seek to understand present and future of
the local media ecosystem
The Pittsburgh Media Partnership has partnered with
the American Journalism Project to learn how people in
Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania get the news
and information they need. Surveys and interviews were
conducted throughout the region one-on-one, through
text message and an online survey. The feedback will be
used by PMP’s 20-plus members to improve news coverage
across the region.
“An effort like this has never been done in Pittsburgh
before,” AmyJo Brown, PMP project director, said.
“We are hoping to hear genuine feedback from people all
across the Pittsburgh region about what information they
need from their local news outlets, what they value most.”
AJP plans to complete its assessment of the ecosystem by
summer 2021. Local media outlets and foundations plan
to use the results to understand how media operate now
– and to lay groundwork for sustainable local
journalism into the future. Results will be available at
Media partners collaborate to document challenges of
Three members of the Pittsburgh Media Partnership –
the Incline, The Mon Valley Independent and Gazette 2.0
– collaborated on a story depicting the struggles students
in the Pittsburgh area faced accessing internet services for
online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Work began on the in-depth story “Endless Buffering” in
early October 2020. Reporter Jamie Wiggan of Gazette 2.0
said that even though 10 percent of the student population
in the Sto-Rox School District reported not having
internet access, he had to overcome the challenge of
finding students willing to talk on the record. “It can be a
daunting thing to be vulnerable about your struggles and
frustrations in a public news story,” he said.
Nate Smallwood, the photographer for the piece, had to
make sure the sources he worked with also felt safe as the
pandemic raged on. “Shooting-wise, in addition to keeping
six feet apart and wearing masks at all times, I made sure
that each [person] photographed felt comfortable meeting
for a portrait and spelled out ahead of time the precautions
that would be taken,” he said.
Colin Deppen, of The Incline, the lead writer on the story,
pulled information from notes others shared with him. “I
worked on this story from home, alongside my
seven-year-old daughter who was also working from home
as an online learner,” he said.
“We are privileged to have reliable and relatively highspeed
internet in our house. Unfortunately, many students
across our commonwealth aren’t as lucky. And that’s the
story we set out to tell, and I’m really glad we did.”
An excerpt from the story :
Carla Rathway could hear her youngest son’s frustration from
the other room. She knew the clamor meant the internet was
acting up again and keeping 12-year-old Preston from his school
work. It happened all the time.
Troy Pellick, 18, and Alexa Pellick, 14, of Grindstone, work on
schoolwork using the internet at the Grindstone
Volunteer Fire Department Social Hall on Jan. 4, 2021.
The photo first appeared with the “Endless Buffering”
series of stories.
Photograph By Nate Smallwood
“He’s like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ when it’s buffering or locking him out,”
Rathway said, adding she also overhears him saying, “‘I hate this
Like scores of Pennsylvania students, Preston, a
seventh grader at Belle Vernon Area School District in
Westmoreland County, and his brother, 15-year-old tenth-grader
Dylan, were in their second month of online learning this October.
But the brothers were doing it all without a reliable high-speed
internet connection at home, where they live across the county line in
In place of one, Preston and Dylan relied on an ad hoc
network of erratic mobile hotspots and visits to relatives in order to
complete their assignments. Makeshift solutions, like these, exist all
Elsewhere in Fayette County, public school students are going to
emergency facilities such as firehouses and churches to access the
internet. And several districts are experimenting with broadcasting
classes on TV at an appointed time — instead of having students log
Read the full story online at thebigstorypgh.com.
High School workshops give insight about “every
angle of journalism”
Point Park University professor Robin Cecala leads a session on creating video content.
The CMI met high school students online in spring 2021
when it was unable to host an in-person high school media
day for a second straight year because of the pandemic.
Sessions focused on different aspects of storytelling – such
as interviewing, sports journalism, photography, podcasting
and managing student newspapers. Point Park faculty
and students and CMI staff led the sessions, which were
co-sponsored by the School of Communication.
While the in-person events typically draw 150-200 students
to campus for one day, the series of seven online workshops
lasted two months and reached more than 850 people via
Facebook and YouTube.
• “I enjoyed all sessions, I was able to learn a lot and
the presenters did great!” — Student
The CMI and School of Communication hope to resume
in-person events during the 2021-22 academic year. Even
then, we learned that the programming must include
online components that reach a broader audience as well.
To see all of the online workshops, visit
Students and teachers gave the programs an average of 8.7
out of 10 in post-event surveys. Their comments included:
• “I thought that it was great to have such a wide variety
of topics that gave great insight into every angle of
journalism.” — Student
• “I took away several ideas and resources that I’ll be
able to use with students.” — Teacher
Point Park University professor Chris Rolinron talks
THAT’S THE POINT.
Dynamic campus in
education with nearby
internships and paid
jobs for credit.
Diverse, creative environment
and professional facilities.
100 + undergraduate, master’s
and doctoral programs.
Scholarships and grants
Accomplishments shine on and off campus
Job Title & Employer
Communications Intern, Mindful Kreative
Concurrent M.A. in Media Communication and MBA
“At Point Park, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of new
industries and built relationships with fellow students,
faculty and industry leaders. It was a big decision for me
to go back to school full time, but I am so glad that I did.”
Multimedia (Multimedia, Graphic Design)
“I work incredibly hard at balancing running The
Globe as editor-in-chief, managing class work, and I
have a strong passion for the field of journalism, so
to receive a scholarship award from the Press Club
meant, to me, that I must be doing something right!”
Public Relations & Advertising
“Being a transfer student from a large, state school in Ohio, I took
a lot of time looking at my options. The fact that Point Park was
directly in Downtown Pittsburgh, close to so many job
opportunities and holds strong relationships with local
businesses made the choice pretty easy. I was tired of feeling
like a number within my lectures and coming to Point Park I
have made close relationships with not only other students,
but also my professors as well.”
Job Title & Employer
Photography Intern, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
“I chose Point Park when I found out about all of the
opportunities students were getting, and not just juniors and
seniors, but freshmen and sophomores, too! When I toured,
they told me if I wanted the opportunities to go after them.
This was really encouraging to me as a senior in high school
and I really felt like Point Park wanted the best for me.”
Job Title & Employer
Global Talent Development Intern, Mylan
Concurrent M.A. in Media Communication and MBA
“The urban campus is second to none. I can’t stress enough
how great Point Park’s location is to companies around
Pittsburgh. As an undergraduate student, I had the ability to
go to my internships in the morning and then walk to class
in the afternoon. I chose to do the M.A./MBA at Point Park
because I was fortunate enough to land a graduate
assistantship in the School of Communication that allowed
me to pursue both degrees.”
Job Title & Employer
Reporter, WSAZ-TV (Huntington, W.Va.)
“I have always had a goal to begin my career before I graduate
college, and I was able to accomplish that through Point Park
University’s co-op program.”
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter:
“I would not have been able to feel confident taking this role if it
weren’t for the experiences Point Park has provided me. From
learning the ins-and-outs of play-by-play and color commentary,
from working with the Point Park Sports Network, to hosting and
reporting for sports shows at U-View, I took every single skill I’ve
learned throughout my time at Point Park and applied them to
calling the game.”
Graduates make their mark
audience and product strategist
“If I didn’t go to Point Park, then I can honestly say
that I wouldn’t be in the job I am in now. It was the
starting point to an incredible journey.”
“In multimedia, or any adjacent field, it’s essential
to get outside experience. It’s one thing to learn and
practice something in a classroom, but it’s another to
use those same skills in a work environment.
Internships are a great way to see what work you
enjoy and what you don’t, and you never know what
connections can lead you to a career you love!”
Job Title & Employer
Associate Photography Editor, National Geographic
“My professors were incredibly influential in not just
my education and career, but they became close friends
and now colleagues. It helps that we are such a small
team, so you really get close with your professors ... I
love these people endlessly and really owe a lot of my
career thus far to them.”
Job Title & Employer
Multimedia Journalist, WDTV (Bridgeport, W. Va.)
“My experience with student media like U-View and
The Globe were vital in preparing me to be the
one-man band that is a multimedia journalist. Those
groups pushed me to refine my writing and video
skills and to find my own stories to tell —
independence is vital as a reporter in a small town.”
Amanda (King) Finkenbinder
Job Title & Employer
Manager, Marketing Communications, UPMC
“My hands-on courses and internships allowed me
to gain skills that the communications industry
covets — from writing scripts to producing and
editing videos ... My multimedia background, which
I developed at Point Park, has allowed me to stand
out from other job applicants.”
Job Title & Employer
Excutive Producer, WDTV (Bridgeport, W. Va.)
Public relations and advertising
“Being a part of U-View at Point Park played a huge
role in my success at WDTV ... Beyond U-View, the
professors do a great job of preparing us for jobs in
the media industry. I completed projects and
assignments that required the same skills as the
work I do now: editing video, being able to quickly
adapt, having good news judgement or just knowing
what questions to ask.”
Job Title & Employer
Broadcast Technical Operator, QVC
Broadcast Reporting, MBA
Public Relations and Advertising
“The factors that led me to pursue both of my
degrees from Point Park were the opportunities
available in each program. I was so attracted to the
hands-on experience I would get from the start as
a broadcast reporting major. For my MBA, the
online experience allowed me to work at a pace that
was logical for my school, work and personal life.”
Job Title & Employer
Graduate Student, California College
of the Arts
“Point Park’s multimedia program was my first
choice because of its location in the city, small size
and multidisciplinary approach. Being able to take
classes in journalism, writing, design, web, video
and photography helped me find what I liked —
and what I didn’t.”
New platforms provide new opportunities: Journalists
discuss how technology can enhance storytelling
By Alexis Wary
New technology and platforms can tell engaging stories using
the same principles of journalism while reaching new — and
younger — audiences.
To dive deeper into how to do just that, Pittsburgh Tech
Council, 90.5 WESA and the Center for Media Innovation
worked together to host an Emerging Technology in
Journalism virtual event on Feb.17. A recording of the entire
event is available on the CMI’s YouTube channel.
Hosted by Sarah Kovash, director of digital content and
strategy for Pittsburgh community Broadcasting Corp. the
panel of speakers included Tory Starr, director of digital and
social content Innovation at WGBH Boston; Joanie Tobin,
senior producer for WGBH’s Emerging Platform Initiative
team; Nicholas D’Orazio, director of corporate strategy of
Inven Global, and Jonathan Kersting, Vice President of
communications for Pittsburgh Technology Council.
“We are trying to be a catalyst and test ideas to get the
organization to make changes, and go out and test
these ideas,” Starr said.
Recently, the team hosted a space-themed escape room live
streamed on Twitch. Virtually, participants on the Mars space
station had to get back to Earth, integrating educational
content into the experience.
Both Starr and Tobin discussed how WGBH’s internal
goals were content and capability. With content, they
wanted to work on finding a target audience and learn how
to reach them.
TikTok is one way to directly reach that younger audience.
Most teens and young adults are now receiving their media
through TikTok. If organizations want to involve and
intrigue these age groups, they need to go to where they are
getting their content.
WGBH has been inspired by individual creators on TikTok
such as teachers or women in STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics). A trailblazer on the platform,
the team members said The Washington Post has also
influenced them, since the national news outlet is willing to
be aggressive and test new formats.
As far as capability, Starr said WGBH wants to be able to
learn from its mistakes, work on where the projects are
coming from, and try to introduce audiences to new platforms.
The Emerging Platforms Initiative team has been
experimenting through Twitch, YouTube, Facebook,
Instagram Stories and Reels and TikTok. When dealing
with a new platform and a specific type of audience, Tobin
said collaborating with existing specialists, such as
influencers, will make the content more successful.
“You have to approach TikTok for a good reason, not just
to do it because it is trending,” Tobin said. “You have to
understand and respect what people are doing on that
platform and why they are doing it.”
“We have to be open minded to understand how these
next generations are getting involved and what they
want,” Starr said.
D’Orazio praised TikTok for its ability to combine
several forms of entertainment, allowing people to tell
more engaging stories.
Conventions of the platform can help newsrooms get their
point across concisely. Otherwise, the audience’s
attention is lost quickly. TikTok videos can also be helpful
to dive deeper into valuable stories that may have been
overlooked due to complexity, to make them more
approachable for viewers.
Tory Starr, WGBH Emerging Platform Initative
Originally a competitive gamer, D’Orazio said he was drawn
to writing about e-sports.
“I started looking for stories, found their potential
and wanted to spread those stories with the e-sports
community,” he said.
People — especially some marginalized communities — can
express themselves through e-sports coverage in ways that
more mainstream media won’t let them, and they end up
feeling more welcomed.
“The autistic community are the champions in esports,”
D’Orazio said. “It is a source of strength, confidence and
sense of community that they may not have anywhere else.”
He focuses on putting out content that allows for his readers
to serve as fans even if they can’t play or understand the
games. They can be an advocate without being physically
involved, he said.
To conclude the discussion, Kersting offered his
perspective about how the region’s approach to
technology has evolved during his 25-year tenure.
One major similarity since he started in 1997 is the
continued need for good storytelling.
“People have always needed this feature storytelling; it
can validate the people who are being featured,”
Printing paper newspapers and magazines is still
valuable, creating a kind of legitimacy and sincerity,
when a reader holds on to a printed publication, he said.
Radio has retained the same value.
“It allows people to humanize their companies and get
their stories told,” he said.
Ultimately, the organizations represented at the event
emphasized how they are working hard to find new ways
to adapt to technology that can be used for journalism.
“There is a new generation of people that get content in
new ways,” Kersting said. “We need to work on getting
involved with these new platforms in an authentic way.”
Mr. Heelyagirl and TikTok experts give advice on how to
By Alexis Wary
TikTok has become one of the leading social media
platforms, allowing for companies and businesses to reach
audiences and ways for average people to produce and receive
unique content that can potentially lead them to fame.
“Back when the pandemic hit, and I had my wheels — the
only place I know as home — TikTok was an organic way to
let off some energy, make some people smile, laugh and have
fun doing it,” said Connor Clyde, aka Mr. Heelyagirl, a TikTok
creator from Pittsburgh with more than 200,000 followers.
The Center for Media Innovation and PRSA Pittsburgh
worked together to host a virtual panel discussion on March
24, 2021, about the basics of TikTok and how it can be beneficial
for companies and brands.
Gen Z and Millenials are most active on TikTok, a social media
platform focused on sharing short video clips with
pre-recorded or original sound.
Clyde started using the app at the start of the COVID-19
pandemic, leading him to unexpected fame. Now, he even reps
his own T-shirts featuring one of his catchphrases: “Crop top,
muffin top, don’t stop.”
When he started making videos, Clyde said he had no
expectations. He just wanted to entertain his friends and lift
people up during these hard times.
CMI Director Andrew Conte led the conversation with Clyde;
Sloane Kelley, Vice President of Social Media for 9Rooftops
Marketing; and Heather Star Fielder, Point Park Professor of
Multimedia, Chair of the Department of Community
Engagement and Director of Wood Street Communications.
Pittsburgh-based TikTok creator
Eventually, one of his videos went viral and his audience
started to build from there. Since then, he’s worked on
collaborations and sponsored videos with brands such as
GetGo and Smile Direct Club.To keep the content
authentic, Clyde said he only works with sponsors that he
would partner with regardless of the money.
“You have to be genuine, people can cut through …
(other) people who aren’t authentic,” he said.
Apart from individuals making creative content, brands
can benefit from the platform, working with creators to
produce a balance of organic and sponsored content.
“You want things to feel like it is in the voice of the creator
they are working with,” Kelley said.
Learning the mechanics of the app might seem
intimidating, but brands shouldn’t be afraid to try it,
especially if their target audience members are
spending time there, she said.
For anyone who wasn’t familiar with making a video on
the platform, Star Fieldler walked through the process of
making and posting a TikTok video. She also explained
the pros and cons of the platform, and offered case
studies from brands such as Chipotle and Ocean Spray.
There is no formula to going viral on TikTok but, as
Clyde said, by “putting out steady content, building followers
and finding that secret sauce,” viewers can express
themselves and build communities while also allowing
brands to capture audiences’ attention.
Campaigning during COVID and other challenges
were a part of political consultant virtual event
Held just hours before the final presidential debate, “Polls
vs. Trolls: Campaign Tactics for a 2020 World” on Oct. 22,
2020, taught viewers how top Pittsburgh political
consultants would advise the presidential candidates on
using multimedia tactics and strategies to win over voters.
Led by moderator Daniel Moore, Washington Bureau Chief
for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the panel hosted by the
Center for Media Innovation and School of Communication
as part of the Media Innovators Speaker Series, discussed
challenges of campaigning during the pandemic.
John Brabender, chief strategist and creative officer of BrabenderCox,
said that among them, candidates couldn’t film
commercials, and a back-up crew was needed in case anyone
tested positive for COVID-19.
Dennis Roddy, senior advisor at ColdSpark, described this campaign
as a “Susan Sontag election,” using illness as a metaphor.
Instead of focusing on differences in how people are handling it
now, Roddy said, “the best messaging is how we’re going to deal
with the repair, after the situation has passed.”
The panel also included Matt Merriman-Preston, owner and
political consultant of Ampersand Consulting, and Abigail
Gardner, principal of Scottie Public Affairs.
The full recorded discussion is available to watch on the CMI’s Youtube
Channel and Facebook page.
Local media experts share experiences navigating sports
coverage during a pandemic
By Alexis Wary
Sports reporters faced lots of challenges during the start of
the COVID-19 pandemic to keep fans excited about hockey.
On Sept. 9, 2020, the Center for Media Innovation and
the Pittsburgh Center for Sports Media and Marketing
co-hosted a virtual event focused on “Sports Media
During a Pandemic.”
Moderated by Tom McMillan, Vice President of
Communications for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Director
of the Center for Sports Media and Marketing, the
event featured industry professionals who worked inside
and outside of the NHL “bubble” during the Stanley
“We had to find a way to get something on the air,” said
Andrew Stockey, WTAE sports director. “People were
hungry to see hockey again.”
One of the major difficulties Stockey said he faced was
getting visuals — a major part of television sports coverage.
Instead of original footage, PensTV shared video with WTAE
and other stations. This way, even though they couldn’t shoot
practices or cover games in-person, they were still able to
In order to best cover the Penguins, he said he had to adapt
from seeing the players every day to not seeing them at all,
especially because safety protocols barred members of the media
from visiting the locker room for interviews.
“Anything is better than nothing,” said Rob Rossi, senior
writer for The Athletic. Unable to attend games in-person,
sports reporters were forced to cover match-ups based on
“We need(ed) to find ways that work for us so we (could)
continue to produce good content,” Rossi said.
Even getting the players to talk was difficult at the height of
the pandemic, said Jennifer Bullano Ridgley, Vice President
of Media Relations for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bullano Ridgley, a Point Park alumna, said at one point, the
work of the media team — which normally visits the locker
room after each game to do interviews and collect sound bites
or post-game coverage — came to a complete standstill. But,
they had to adapt to keep fans involved.
Ultimately, the safety of everyone — including the members
of the team, Penguins organization and media — was of
utmost importance.“It’s an evolving situation and it’s not ideal
for anybody,” Rossi said. “We just (had) to make the best of it.”
School of Communication offers new sports-focused
The program is aimed at preparing students for careers
in sports communication, emphasizing flexibility and
skill-building that can encompass any content-creation or
other broad-based communication needs of an organization
including broadcasting, social media and fan engagement,
journalism, public relations and advertising.
“With the introduction of a B.A. in sports communication,
we continue our leadership role in preparing and graduating
the next generation of sports industry professionals,” said
Keith Paylo, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of
students at Point Park. “Pittsburgh is a fanatical sports town
and we’re pleased to be able to offer our students access to
sports industry relationships, opportunities and job
experiences that are unparalleled in the region.”
Students in the program will have opportunities to gain
• Freshman and sophomore year: students will produce
content for Point Park Athletics and the River States
Conference using the University’s Center for Media
• Junior year: students will create content for the ACC
Network, as well as through internships and various
opportunities with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh
Penguins, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Washington
Wild Things, among other organizations.
• Senior year: students will have the opportunity to work
at an advanced level with our partner sports teams
through our innovative co-op program.
Recent students and graduates have had internships and/or
gone onto jobs with organizations such as the National
“With the introduction of a B.A. in sports communication, we continue
our leadership role in preparing and graduating the next generation
of sports industry professionals. Pittsburgh is a fanatical sports town
and we’re pleased to be able to offer our students access to sports
industry relationships, opportunities and job experiences that are
unparalleled in the region.”
-Keith Paylo, Vice President of Student Affairs
and Dean of Students
Football League, Pittsburgh Penguins, NFL Media, Skillshot
Media and the Washington Football Team.
The School of Communication offers a wide variety of sports
communication classes but the new degree is the first time
those classes have been formalized into a program. This new
program works in collaboration with the Rowland School of
Business and Point Park Athletics to offer students an
enhanced package of academic and career opportunities.
“Our knowledgeable faculty, many of whom are professionals
in the sports communication field, not only educate students
but help mentor their professional ambitions,” said Bernie
Ankney, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Communication. “We’re
able to offer our students real-world opportunities to help
make their sports communication career goals a reality.”
Ankney added: “Imagine being 18 years old and taking
photos for Point Park Athletics, being 20 years old and
working for the ACC Conference, being 21 years old and
working for a professional sports team. It’s an exciting program
that will prepare our students for careers in sports PR and
advertising, sports video production, sports photojournalism
and so many other areas.”
South Hills Interfaith Movement
From Our Studios
Many nonprofits turned to the CMI during the
pandemic to present programs online when they
could not get together in person. Those experiences,
along with the Center’s ongoing client relationships, brought
innovative strategies to reaching new audiences.
The Healing Center
The Healing Center recorded a second season of its Healing
Hearts podcasts focused on helping patients and the public
better understand Pennsylvania’s still-new medical marijuana
industry. Chris Kohan, CEO and co-founder of the medical
cannabis dispensary group with multiple locations across
southwestern Pennsylvania, recorded a series of discussions
with marijuana growers across the commonwealth focused on
the unique healing qualities of their distinct strains. “Having a
full year under our belts now has made this series the best one
yet!” Kohan said. “Working with Andy and the team at Point
Park has been both amazing and seamlessly smooth. We are all
excited about the things we will do together in the future.”
To hear all of the episodes, visit
Dickey, McCamey & Chilcote
The law firm Dickey, McCamey & Chilcote launched a new
podcast series, called The DMC Report, that it records in the
CMI. The episodes, feature conversations about issues and
challenges for business and the economy. The first episode in
December featured Christopher T. Lee, managing attorney of
the Pittsburgh office and founder and chair of the Food and
Beverage Industry Group, to talk about the impact of the
pandemic on the restaurant and food servic industry.
Listeners may find the podcasts at www.DMCLaw.com.
Grant Ervin, the city of Pittsburgh’s Chief Resilience Officer,
has started a podcast called “The Dirt” to focus on green
technology, eco-living, sustainability and ways that government
and businesses affect the environment, climate change and
more. Special guests have included Justine Russo of Pitt Ohio,
Rebecca Lucore of Covestro, and Ned Eldridge of eLoop,
covering a myriad of sustainability topics. “The Center for
Media Innovation at Point Park University is a perfect setting
for our Podcasts,” producer Anthony Alfonsi said. “It has all
the latest technology for enhancing the podcast. The staff has
been great to work with and has made us feel welcome. We are
thankful for this partnership.”
YWCA Greater Pittsburgh and the CMI have teamed up to
produce Among Neighbors, a Podcast About Race, Power
and Privilege. The show explores conversations that
Pittsburghers rarely have about issues that divide and unite
us. Episodes over the past year have featured topics such as
the origins of Black History Month, interracial friendships,
media discrimination and inclusive holiday celebrations.
“This provides a great opportunity for us to engage with
experts in their field while reminding me of the value of
interpersonal conversations with those of different social
identities,” said Barbara Johnson, co-host and Vice President
of Race and Gender Equity at YWCA. You may find the show
wherever you listen to podcasts.
Our Region’s Business
The show must go on, and the Center for Media Innovation
helped to make it possible for the Allegheny Conference
throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Early on, the non-profit
economic and community development organization lost
studio access at WPXI-TV to record its weekly business
public affairs program, Our Region’s Business. “The CMI kept
us on the air throughout the pandemic, recording
interviews over video chat with regional business leaders from
their homes and offices,” said Bill Flanagan, the program host.
“We missed only one Sunday broadcast at the very beginning
of the pandemic. We couldn’t have done it without the rapid
and creative response by the CMI.” The program, now in its
18th year on WPXI-TV, airs every Sunday morning at 11 am
and is available online at WPXI.com/ORB.
South Hills Interfaith Movement
From Our Studios
Humane Animal Rescue of
Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh (HARP) could not hold its
annual gala in 2020 because of COVID-19, and asked the CMI to
help come up with a way of connecting with their supporters via
video instead. A Very Burgh Paws Party was born! The idea was a
Brady Bunch-themed online event that celebrated people’s pets and
featured heartfelt stories of the lifesaving programs at HARP. The
result was a large video wall filled with pets, each in their own square.
The CMI’s production staff was able to help create that portion of the
event – and the overall results were stunning: Humane Animal Rescue
reached 4,600 viewers, with an average view time of 20 minutes, and
most significantly, the organization raised $482,079.
South Hills Interfaith
South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM) called on the CMI to host
two of its biggest annual events over the past year. In November, the
Center produced an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service for the
nonprofit with the highlight being a choral piece sung by more than
a dozen singers, recorded separately via Zoom and sewn together.
The biggest testimonial of this success was that SHIM reached out to
the CMI again in the spring to produce its annual “Celebrate
with SHIM” event in June 2021.
Before the pandemic, the Downtown CDC held a major production
each year for Pittsburgh Fashion Week; unable to bring people
together in-person, the community development corporation
commissioned the CMI to create a week’s worth of online
programming. The online celebration was packed with everything
from photo galleries and workshops to music and dance
performances. It also featured new additions such as morning
podcasts related to the fashion industry, Artist Alleys highlighting
Pittsburgh-area designers and artists, and the inaugural Pittsburgh
Fashion Week Film Festival. PGHFW also partnered with other city
Fashion Weeks across the country, including Columbus, Baltimore,
Indianapolis and Nashville. The goal: to promote fashion communities
in each city and create a larger network for fashion, film and the arts.
Engineers Society of Western
The Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) hosted
its annual engineering awards banquet with a virtual presentation
on February 25, 2021. ESWP President David W. Borneman, P.E.,
and 1st Vice-President Tammi A. Halapin, P.E., both recorded
segments in the CMI’s video production studio for their part in
presenting the banquet awards. After making full use of the CMI
production facilities, including the teleprompter, lighting and
cameras, and editing service, both said they were very impressed
with the facilities and the service provide by the CMI staff.
During the virtual presentation, Mr. Borneman thanked PPU for
use of the CMI facility.
Corporate Equity & Inclusion
The Corporate Equity & Inclusion Roundtable transformed its
usual one-day annual event into three days of virtual programming
produced by the CMI in October. The event included talks by Mayor
Bill Peduto, Steelers President Art Rooney II and dozens of
community and corporate leaders. Tim Stevens, chairman & CEO of
the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) and facilitator for
B-PEP’s Corporate Equity & Inclusion Roundtable (CEIR), said that
“it was indeed a pleasure to work with Andrew Conte, director of
the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University. The
staff had wonderful ideas, were very accommodating, and were
obviously committed to providing us a very good product for our
first-ever virtual CEIR Annual Conference.” For more information,
Center for Media
201 Wood Street
PAID PITTSBURGH, PA
PERMIT NO. 1674
305 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA
201 Wood Street, Pittsburgh PA