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Supporting Aspiring Journalists is Critical  Now More Than Ever

Young people often come to me in a way that makes them seem embarrassed, and they say that they really love journalism – but someone in their life has told them to pursue something sensible like accounting.

I point out that — despite the drumbeat of stories about layoffs, buyouts and closures — many of my friends have successful careers in journalism. They provide for their families, they lead exceptionally interesting lives, and they pursue work that makes a difference. 

And then I secretly worry that I have betrayed these young people.

A colleague of mine put it succinctly in a discussion this week: As bad as things seem for journalism now, if we don’t have any young people interested in journalism and who see a path to careers, the real trouble lies ahead. 

With that in mind, we are kicking off a series of free, virtual workshops for young people interested in journalism and other storytelling careers. The details follow below. If you know of a young person who enjoys telling meaningful stories, encourage them to check it out.

– Director Andrew Conte and CMI staff

Header: CMI Director Andrew Conte speaks to a group of aspiring young journalists during the September 2019 High School Workshop at the Center for Media Innovation. Photo by Nick Ruffolo.

Pittsburgh Media Partnership Continues to Focus on COVID and the Community

Local and state officials have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic isn't over. The 20 local news organizations that comprise the Pittsburgh Media Partnership are working hard to keep the community informed about the impact of the pandemic in Pittsburgh.

The Partnership recently launched a new website,, to enable readers to explore full coverage of the pandemic over the next few months. Because the effects of quarantine, job losses and impact on businesses will remain for the foreseeable future, local journalists have joined together to dig deeper and tell the full story of COVID-19's effect on Pittsburgh's health, safety and security.

For example, the Pittsburgh City Paper presented an illustrated story that covered the increased risks people with disabilities face while in treatment at a rehab or nursing facility during a pandemic. The project was funded by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project in collaboration with the CMI and Unabridged Press’s All Abilities Media project.

These reporters want to hear from you: How safe do you feel? Are you back at work? Are you facing eviction? Are you getting access to the help you need? Contribute by sharing information that will help them report the full story.

You can support their journalism by donating or subscribing to each of the partners, and by signing up for the Pittsburgh Media Partnership newsletter

Above: The Pittsburgh Media Partnership's homepage for Screenshot by Olivia Valyo.

Doris O'Donnell Fellowship Update 

There is still time to apply for the Center for Media Innovation’s $20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship. Now in its second year, the Fellowship is designed to spotlight and take on the growing problem of underserved media markets known as news deserts.
Journalists and media outlets can apply through June 30 at Finalists will be announced in August, and the first, second and third place prize winners will be announced in September.

Point Park Offers Free Virtual Community and Summer Education Workshops

This summer, Point Park University's Community and Summer Education department is offering FREE virtual workshops led by a variety of Point Park faculty and alumni, as well as industry professionals.

Communications-related workshops include:
  • Adviser/Teacher Workshops
    • For new or veteran Communication Advisers/Teachers
    • Register here
  • PR/Advertising Series

  • Digital Content Sessions
  • Student Journalism Workshops
All programming will be offered through the video platform Zoom and is completely free of charge! Please be aware that some classes have a limited capacity, so be sure to pre-register soon.

Click here for more information.  

A Valid Podcast Features New Topics and Special Guests, including Crip Camp Directors and U.S. Senator Bob Casey

As deaths of nursing home patients continue to rise, the All-Abilities Media team spoke with U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies. These interviews were featured on A Valid Podcast.

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.

We spoke with the directors of the Sundance-winning film Crip Camp
which documents the Woodstock-era roots of the disability rights movement. This episode, which streamed live on Facebook, reached more than 17,000 viewers.

Disability Pride Pennsylvania’s parade director previewed the online event, which also includes conversations about sexuality in the disability community among its educational workshops. It also includes music and comedy performances.

Please consider listening, ranking and subscribing to A Valid Podcast! The live online program resumes in July with Season Two.

To learn more, or to participate in this project, contact or by phone at 412-339-0748.

– Jennifer Szweda Jordan, founder of Unabridged Press

Above: The Unabridged Press team speaks to Crip Camp Directors James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham.
Screenshot provided by Jennifer Szweda Jordan.

McKeesport Community Newsroom's Tube City Writers Present Summer Sessions on Writing

Point Park University Professor Helen Fallon served as the Tube City Writers guest facilitator for the month of June. The group met in person on June 9 for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March. 

Fallon led discussions on the use of narrative while crafting articles. The writers produced a collection of stories, "A Sense of Kennywood Park," to share the excitement of visiting the historic amusement park. 

TCW summer sessions are held at Renziehausen Park at an outdoor pavilion (adjacent to the McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center) to encourage social distancing. Upcoming sessions will occur on July 14 and 28 from 6 - 8 p.m.

— Martha Rial

Photo of Professor Helen Fallon by Martha Rial.

CMI Team Looks Back on Remote Production of Our Region's Business

Check out the Our Region's Business sizzle reel here.
From March to June, the local news news program Our Region's Business was unable to film in their usual WPXI-TV studio due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The CMI team was proud to step in and assist host Bill Flanagan and his team with remote production during this period of time. 

Check out the video above to view some of the highlights.

Journalism faculty prepare students to be well-rounded storytellers, equip graduates to thrive in a wide range of careers

Journalism faculty highlight what makes Point Park's multi-platform journalism program distinctive and how it equips students with the tools to embark on their careers.

Read more

School of Communication student Taylor Spirito highlights media relations internship with the Pittsburgh Penguins

"My internship was all about handling the media to ensure they had the proper resources to do their jobs ... It feels like I had a networking opportunity everywhere I turned! My job led to me constantly being surrounded by professionals not just in the Penguins organization, but media from all over the country and beyond." 

Read more

Point Park Multimedia Graduate and Applied Computer Science Major Publish Marketing Articles on

Bri Farrand '20 and Sabrina Tatalias '21 were recently published on for their articles "From Whiteboard to Wilkes Barre to Webinar: A Student’s Marketing Journey" and "Can Direct Mail Be Innovative?"

Read more

On Media: Post-Gazette under fire locally and nationally for its treatment of Black journalists. Why we must all do better

"Protest-related stories by two staffers — city hall reporter Ashley Murray and general assignment reporter Lauren Lee — suddenly disappeared without explanation from the PG’s website shortly after they tweeted support for Alexis."

Read more in CMI Director Andrew Conte's latest column for NEXTPittsburgh.

News about news: Media companies reckon with racism, Black press convenes, and more 

What’s happening in American cities over the past week shows, among many other things, a vision of storylines at war. Over and over, protesters speak of wanting to be heard, of having their stories shape the larger story, of needing the central myth of American life to include them.


CBS NewsAmid protests, media companies face reckoning with racism

The death of George Floyd has re-ignited a global movement against the police killings of black people, and with it, there are renewed calls for American media companies to root out structural racism, with some challenging the practices of senior leadership. This broader discussion, which often unfolds on social media, has forced shake-ups at several outlets, including The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Refinery29, Man Repeller and Bon Appétit.
As anti-racist protests gripped communities around the world, Black people from news outlets by and for them convened to discuss how they were prepared to cover the moment. Hosted (over Zoom) by the Center for Community Media at the City University of New York, editors and publishers from America’s Black press debated whether, when, and how to send their reporters to protests that have often been beset by police violence.
Here's what local independent publishers are doing to address coverage of current events in their communities.
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Newsletter compiled by CMI Studio Tech Olivia Valyo

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