View this email in your browser

Help Us Give Out $27,500 for Local Journalism

When Chicago columnist Laura Washington started talking about information deserts in 2011, she was referring to metro news outlets ignoring her urban neighborhood.
Now when Penny Abernathy draws maps about The Expanding News Desert, she refers to the 200 U.S. counties that have no newspaper – and the 1,540 that have only one, often a weekly.
We are interested in both scenarios for the Doris O’Donnell Fellowships. The awards go to professional journalists anywhere in the United States with three goals:

  • Support original local reporting;
  • Encourage reporting on diverse communities that often are overlooked; and,
  • Reach into areas with little original reporting, sometimes known as news deserts.

Open to all types of journalists — freelancers, news outlets, videographers, photographers and reporters — if you could use up to $20,000 for original reporting this year, let us know at And if you know a journalist who could use the money, please forward this message to them.

– Director Andrew Conte and CMI staff

Header graphic created by Olivia Valyo. Doris O'Donnell images courtesy of StoryWorks.TV

The Doris O'Donnell Fellowship is a project of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University.
The fellowship is made possible through a three-year grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

Improving Regional News Coverage

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 are being conducted throughout the region one-on-one, through text message and through an online survey. The feedback will be used by PMP’s partners to improve news coverage across the region.

"An effort like this has never been done in Pittsburgh before," said AmyJo Brown, PMP project editor. "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."

Learn more about the project, take the survey and share it with your networks

Paid Internships

The Pittsburgh Media Partnership is also launching a paid summer 2021 internship program, and seeking motivated student journalists interested in being matched with one of its 22 partner newsrooms.

The 12-week program, which runs May through August, is intended to give students with a serious interest in a journalism career — particularly those who are underrepresented in the industry — an opportunity to learn on the job, improve their portfolios and leverage the experience so that they can break into the industry more easily after graduation. 

Interns selected for the program will work in a local newsroom on day-to-day assignments with the editors of that organization. They will also get access to additional fellowship, networking and learning opportunities. 

Candidates should be enrolled at a college-level institution in the greater Pittsburgh region. Apply here

Now Hiring: Internship Coordinator

The Pittsburgh Media Partnership is also hiring a part-time internship coordinator to manage the program and serve as a mentor to the cohort of students. The internship coordinator will help recruit and match interns to news outlets and facilitate fellowship and additional networking and learning opportunities for the cohort. The position pays $25 an hour and hours are expected to range from 20 to 30 hours a week. 
Learn more here.

— Zoey Angelucci, Pittsburgh Media Partnership News Assistant 

Want to stay in-the-know with the latest editorial work from our partners? Sign-up for Pittsburgh Media Partnership’s weekly newsletter:
The Pittsburgh Media Partnership has been made possible with the support of
The Heinz Endowments and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation.

Call for Applications for Doris O'Donnell Fellowship

Watch the Official Launch Video for Year 2 of the Doris O'Donnell Fellowship

The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University announced the relaunch of the second year of its $20,000+ Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship after pausing during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the goal of making an even bigger impact, the fellowship this year also will award second- and third-place prizes of $5,000 and $2,500. 

The fellowship winner will have eight months to report and publish or broadcast stories. The honoree will be required to come to Point Park University’s Downtown Pittsburgh campus to meet with students and attend a celebration of their work. If the ongoing pandemic does not allow an in-person visit, other arrangements will be made.

The deadline for applications is March 23. The winner will be announced April 14.

For more information please visit
The Doris O'Donnell Fellowship is a project of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University.
The fellowship is made possible through a three-year grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

Explore a collection of photos from two recent outings of the
Mon Valley Photography Collective in partnership with Venture Outdoors

The collective recently explored the 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.

The collective documented winter at Round Hill Park, an 1,101-acre park and its exhibit farm of animals in Elizabeth Township operated by Allegheny County Parks Department.
The McKeesport Community Newsroom is a project of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University. Funding for the McKeesport Community Newsroom is provided by the Cicerella Fund, Einar and Lois Rygg Fund, Jack and Tally McKee Memorial Fund, Quentin and Evelyn T. Cunningham Fund, Lewis Fund, Sachs Family Fund, and the W. Howard Larkins Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

New Platforms Provide New Opportunities

Journalists Discuss How Technology Can Enhance Storytelling
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 at Point Park worked together to host “Emerging Technology in Journalism,” a virtual event Feb. 17. Sarah Kovash, director of digital content and strategy for Pittsburgh Public Broadcasting Corp., led the session. 

“We are trying to be a catalyst and test ideas to get the organization to make changes, and go out and test these ideas,” said panelist Tory Starr, director of digital and social sontent innovation at WGBH Boston.

When dealing with a new platform and a specific type of audience, panelist Joanie Tobin, senior producer for WGBH's Emerging Platform Initiative team, 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.”

Panelist Nicholas D'Orazio, director of corporate strategy of Inven Global, praised TikTok for its ability to combine several forms of entertainment, allowing people to tell more engaging stories.

Originally a competitive gamer, D’Orazio said he was drawn to writing about esports. 
“I started looking for stories, found their potential and wanted to spread those stories with the esports community,” he said.

One thing that has endured as the region’s approach to technology has evolved in the last 25 years is the continued need for good storytelling, said panelist Jonathan Kersting, vice president of communication for Pittsburgh Technology Council

“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.”

— Alexis Wary
A recording of the entire event is available on the CMI’s YouTube channel.

All-Abilities Media Welcomes New Voices

The All-Abilities Media Project is still savoring the sweetness of seeing Rachel Kallem Whitman’s recent column “Why I’m Eating Candy with My Kettlebells on Valentine’s Day” on the Medium partner site P.S. I Love You.

Rachel writes so well, so directly, and, quite often, so hilariously, about some of her most challenging life experiences. In the February piece, she describes how eating disorders played into her romances and her growing appreciation of her body.

Rachel is a leading voice in our region, teaching tech companies and Duquesne University students about “ableism, sanism, audism” and other forms of discrimination. This year as we dedicate time to crystallizing our mission and vision for All-Abilities Media, we’re so pleased that Rachel’s voice is one of those shaping the future direction of our project.

To learn more about Rachel, visit

And don’t forget to stop by our website, which we’re now updating with profiles of Rachel and others involved in our project.

— Jennifer Szweda Jordan, project manager and founder of Unabridged Press

Above: Rachel Kallem Whitman. Photos courtesy of and P.S. I Love You.

All-Abilities Media is a project of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, in partnership with Unabridged Press.
This project has been made possible with the support of the FISA Foundation and an anonymous trust.
Taylor Spirito '21 Becomes First Female Play-by-Play Broadcaster in Johnstown Tomahawks History  

"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."

— Taylor Spirito

Read more
Fall 2021: School of Communication Offering New B.A. in Sports Communication  

“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

Read more

On Media: News worth crossing a river. Merchandise helps fund hiring.

Among local news outlets driven to the brink last year by the Covid pandemic, Pittsburgh City Paper has fought back by, in part, expanding its merchandise collection to include T-shirts, masks and coloring books.

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

News About News: Pandemic Drives Nonprofit Media Boom; Journalists as Essential Workers

"We have to subsidize reporting if we want democracy to survive," says Elizabeth Green, the CEO and co-founder of the non-profit local news company Chalkbeat. "Markets will not pay for all we need.

It’s a classic public good problem: we all benefit from local news about public interest topics, even if we don’t pay for it," Green said. "What advertising once subsidized now needs philanthropic support to thrive." 
2020, like so many years before it, was a tough one for local news. That’s before a pandemic shook a crumbling print business model, closed more than 70 local newsrooms and led to thousands of layoffs.

But in the middle of the country, some newsrooms serving small communities hung on. They had to. They reported on school closures, the spread of the coronavirus and the dead. While print advertising shriveled and other local businesses around them closed, these newsrooms covered a global public health story that literally meant life or death where they lived.
The Wall Street Journal: The Difference Between News and Opinion
We draw a clear line between news and opinion. The separation between these two independent departments helps ensure impartiality in our news reporting and freedom of perspective in our opinion pieces.
BOOK THE CMI for your next event:

Students   |   Faculty and Staff  |   Professional Community
Get in touch with us:
305 Wood St., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222

Newsletter compiled by CMI Studio Tech Olivia Valyo

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University is a state-of-the-art incubator and collaborative space designed to prepare students for success in a media industry intertwined with the latest technology, while also supporting professional journalists and educating the public at large. The Center features TV and radio/podcast studios, a photo studio, a multimedia newsroom, and a transformational presentation and gallery space. The Allegheny Foundation provided a $2.5 million grant to start the CMI in 2016. Visit to learn more.

Point Park University, immersed in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, focuses on student success through innovative experiential learning opportunities. Point Park enrolls approximately 4,000 students in over 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs offered through its Conservatory of Performing Arts, Rowland School of Business, and schools of Arts and Sciences, Communication, and Education. The University’s alumni and students represent all 50 states and 34 countries around the world. Visit to learn more.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Point Park University Center for Media Innovation · 201 Wood St · Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1912 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp