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Minimal contact, maximum innovation

Working at home in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to innovate in ways that might have seemed too daring or difficult in the past.

We replaced our semi-annual High School Media Day with a series of interactive videos that roll out every Friday: KDKA meteorologist Mary Ours, a Point Park grad, led the first session by talking about her career path – and she stuck around to chat with students. Catch the next one this Friday.

The McKeesport writers group, Tube City Writers, are gathering by video chat and phone, instead of in-person. Dr. Nicole Peeler, our guest instructor from Seton Hill University, offers prompts for citizens to write about from home. You can see their work here.

People with disabilities have distinct advantages and disadvantages during the coronavirus crisis, and so our All-Abilities Media project started a podcast to share out information and answer questions. You can hear it here.

We face a moment with unprecedented challenges, but also one that presents untold opportunities. Share your home-quarantine media innovations with us on Facebook and Twitter: @PointParkCMI with #MediaPioneers.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

– Director Andrew Conte and CMI staff

Above: Point Park CMI staff on a Zoom call since transitioning to working remotely in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Screenshot by Stacey Federoff.

Watch upcoming virtual High School Media Day sessions LIVE at 1 p.m. Fridays

First session now available on YouTube; up next: "Applying Media Skills To Any Career" and "The Camera As A Storytelling Tool"

With the transition to online learning because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the CMI hosted its first virtual High School Media Day session on Friday, March 20, and will continue to host a LIVE session each week with different presenters. Watch Mary Ours' video any time on our YouTube page.

Some will be sessions previously planned for the in-person event PLUS some additional interviews with professional journalists, faculty members and others who can talk about media and related topics.

Subscribe to the CMI's YouTube channel, and hit the bell icon to receive notifications about new videos. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the full schedule, and check your inboxes for full information about each one.

Join us online for our next virtual High School Media Day session, when Fast Company reporter Zlati Meyer talks with CMI Director Andrew Conte LIVE at 1 p.m. Friday, March 27, about applying media skills to any career.

Meyer has worked as a staff reporter for USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer and UPI's New York City bureau. She's freelanced for a variety of news outlets, including the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor and New York Magazine. Meyer has a bachelor's from Boston University and a master's from the Columbia University School of Journalism.

Richard Kelly, adjunct instructor at Point Park, will discuss how technology allows us to all become publishers, writers, photographers and video creators, but visual media at its best still relies on research, skills and storytelling. No matter the tool, well-composed images make for a more memorable story.
(Note: Content in this video presentation may be upsetting to some viewers, especially younger audiences.)

Below: KDKA meteorologist Mary Ours introduces herself during her virtual High School Media Day session, now on YouTube.

Subscribe to the CMI's YouTube channel

Tube City Writers meet award-winning author

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

The next Tube City Writers group meeting via Zoom will be 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26. (Also available by phone by dialing 301-715-8592 and entering meeting ID number 275 487 539.) 

Open to Mon Valley residents of all ages, no experience is necessary, except an interest in storytelling and writing. 

Three-hour live All-Abilities Media broadcast highlights mission to job-seekers at summit

"I wish we had something like this in Philadelphia," a woman from the city of brotherly love told the All-Abilities Media team at the Disability and Mental Health Summit on March 3 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Indeed, the summit brought a lot of attention to our work, including from job-seekers who have disabilities and who are seeking new skills and opportunities. The annual summit was significantly larger than in previous years because of the interest in disability resources during this 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The event is hosted annually by Pennsylvania House Rep. Dan Miller.

During the event, the All-Abilities Team held a three-hour broadcast featuring interviews with disability professionals. James Shirley, who had participated in one of our free podcast workshops available to people with disabilities, conducted one of the interviews. He spoke with Collin Diedrich, who has significant learning disabilities and became a research scientist. Diedrich founded the Learning Disabilities Association of Pennsylvania. Those interviews are available on Unabridged Press, and, as always, available for republication by any news outlet.

Coronavirus response prompts new live podcast

The COVID-19 pandemic led the All-Abilities Media Project team to launch a live call-in show called “A Valid Podcast.”

We’ve already begun to see the pandemic’s impacts on our team, and the disability community at large. Home health aides are no longer attending to many people in our region. One of our podcast hosts, Josie Badger, lost the 8- to 14-hour daily support that she usually receives, leaving her husband to take over her care.

Knowing that people with disabilities are two to four times more likely to die in a disaster, “A Valid Podcast” negates the word “invalid” that’s occasionally still used for people with certain disabilities. And we end every show with a funny COVID-19 story segment to keep spirits up.

Tonight (Tuesday, March 24), attorney Jennifer Price joins us LIVE at 7:30 p.m. to discuss the new loss of services to special education students. The show goes live 7:30 to 8 p.m. via Zoom Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In this time of newsroom cuts, we want to emphasize that as always, all content from this project is available for republication with credit. We have audio and transcripts available. Call-in details and other info here.

– Jennifer Szweda Jordan, founder of Unabridged Press

On Media: Coronavirus is killing local media jobs. You can help save them

Trib Total Media laid off 24 journalists; Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Current and Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle have started campaigns for help with funding during this time of lost ad revenue. Learn how you can help in CMI Director Andrew Conte's latest column for NEXTPittsburgh.

Read more here.

New School of Communications dean to begin in June  

"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,” said Raymond “Bernie” Ankney, Ph.D., a Ligonier, Pa., native who spent 13 years as Chair of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

Read more about him in The Globe.

Doris O'Donnell Winner visits Point Park to work with students  

"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 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,” said Erica Hensley, Mississippi Today reporter and winner of the inaugural Doris O'Donnell Innovations in Investigate Journalism Fellowship.

Read more about her campus visit here.

With five Top 20 hits to his name and over 200,000 copies of his hit album "Young Love" sold, singer-songwriter Mat Kearney recently visited the CMI and spoke about how humble beginnings turned into newfound fame.

Watch Kearney give insight on the music industry, including what it takes to get started and what to expect from a record label contract, by clicking the thumbnail.

News about news: Coronavirus coverage, shuttering newspapers locally and nationally

[I]n these moments, as scary as it might be, most of the media are doing the responsible thing — providing truth, even if that truth is more pessimistic than optimistic. The media’s job is to present facts, not hope. It is to report what is really happening, not to paint over serious issues in order to make its audience feel better.

Most of all, the media aren’t trying to make any politician or leader look good or bad, but to hold those in power accountable for their actions — or inaction. They are there to get answers.

After all, the media aren’t just covering a story. They are a part of the story. EVERYONE is a part of the story, because this virus is affecting literally every single person.

Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper terminates all employees, comes as 'a shock' to staff

The historic Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper — the official weekly publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh since 1844 — terminated all employees during a conference call that came as a surprise to staff Thursday.

“We were all terminated permanently,” said John Franko, a reporter who has been at the paper for nearly 30 years. “We were expecting layoffs, but this came as a shock. I guess they did what they had to do.”
More coverage about local media outlets announcing changes from the P-G here.
With local events canceled and restaurants and bars shuttering to crack down on the gathering of large crowds, local newsrooms have not only had to change their coverage. They have also lost out on crucial ad revenue and places to distribute their print products. These changes have an outsized effect on alt-weeklies which rely heavily on advertising from events and local businesses.

"I think I'm a fairly good salesperson, but to be able to convince someone to run an ad for an event they're not having is beyond my capabilities," Jeff vonKaenel, president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno told CNN Business. "Now businesses where I normally distribute papers are closed so it's not going to work. There was essentially no revenue stream and no effective way to get out the paper."

In response, management laid off staffers, ceased print publishing or temporarily shut down. Beyond Euclid Media Group's seven outlets, there were layoffs at the Tampa Bay Times; the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno; the Portland Mercury; Monterey County Weekly and Isthmus. At least 100 people have lost their jobs in media over the past two weeks, with most outlets citing coronavirus as the direct cause.

Washington Post: Dear readers: Please stop calling us 'the media.' There is no such thing.
Folks, I know a lot of you don’t like the people who work in my chosen profession, the news business. I’m aware you think we’re lazy and unfair (yes, I got your emails and tweets on this topic — a few thousand of them). Of course, I disagree with you. I know a lot of fine people in the newsgathering arts and sciences. But that’s not why I’m writing.

I’m writing because I have a request: Please stop calling us “the media.”

Yes, in some sense, we are the media. But not in the blunt way you use the phrase. It’s so imprecise and generic that it has lost any meaning. It’s — how would you put this? — lazy and unfair.
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Newsletter compiled by CMI Graduate Assistant Stacey Federoff

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Point Park University Center for Media Innovation · 201 Wood St · Pittsburgh, PA 15222-1912 · USA

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