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CMI helps guests on Our Region's Business stay camera-ready during coronavirus

We have been making television programs in our pajamas.

Not really. But we could have been.

Since the pandemic started, the CMI has collaborated to produce a Sunday morning talk show with WPXI-TV, Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

The producers of Our Region’s Business could no longer go into the studio, so we started recording the show remotely via video chat.

The first four shows haven’t been perfect. But they all have run on broadcast television in HD-quality. Read more below about what Point Park President Paul Hennigan said on the first remote broadcast. If you missed any of the episodes so far, you can find them online at or catch new ones at 11 a.m. Sundays on WPXI.

Before the crisis, TV producers were right to insist on studio quality for every show. But as we all have learned, good content right now means more than anything.

The COVID-19 crisis is causing much pain and sacrifice, but it also forces us all to innovate in ways we never imagined. If anything good comes from this challenging moment, it can be that we all learned to grow in unexpected ways. 

(If you're wondering how to make yourself more camera-ready, here are some tips on how to look your best during a remote video interview.)

– Director Andrew Conte and CMI staff

Above: Our Region's Business host Bill Flanagan with Point Park President Paul Hennigan. 
Screenshots and graphic by Nick Ruffolo.

CMI announces media partnership, which shifts its focus in wake of global pandemic

The Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University is launching the Pittsburgh Media Partnership, an unprecedented collaborative effort among media outlets in the Greater Pittsburgh region. 

The Partnership will support journalists from 20 participating news organizations as they work to ensure local communities get the information they need during this crisis. It was formed earlier this year in response to the dire economic challenges facing the local news industry, with a mission to support a vibrant, diverse and independent media ecosystem. 

Its structure – generously funded by The Heinz Endowments and the Henry L. Hilman Foundation – supports collaboration among the media outlets when it can help the most, which includes significant enterprise journalism. While the group had been meeting for months to develop its first project together, the board recently agreed to shift the focus to COVID-19 coverage, given the unusual nature of the story and the resources required to cover it. 

Read the full news release.

Top photo by Stacey Federoff; Bottom two photos by Lucy Schaly
Four news outlets participating in the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Media Partnership have each been awarded $5,000 grants from the Facebook Journalism Project – NEXTpittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, Presente Pittsburgh Media and TribLive. The money will be used to support those outlets’ coverage of the COVID-19 crisis.

Read more about the grants and a see full list of awardees nationwide.

The Corona Diaries, stories keep
Tube City Writers connected while apart

Read personal stories and insightful perspectives in The Corona Diaries, an ongoing collection of first-person experiences from Tube City Writers and images from the Mon Valley Photography Collective during the time of the pandemic. 

Tube City Writers is a program of the McKeesport Community Newsroom, an initiative of the Center for Media Innovation, which supports citizen journalism and storytelling by residents of the Mon Valley’s largest city and surrounding areas. 

"Perhaps we will come out of this crisis as better and more creative not in spite of the constraints we’ve been subjected to, but because of them." – Jim Busch, Tube City Writers

Photo by Vickie Babyak

McKeesport Community Newsroom project manager Martha Rial recently hosted virtual conversations with McKeesport native and retired KDKA reporter Harold Hayes, as well as Pittsburgh Post Gazette photographer Andrew Rush.

Check out their full Facebook livestreams here:

Harold Hayes interview

Andrew Rush interview

Screenshot by Olivia Valyo

COMING UP: Broadway and primetime television actress Tamara Tunie will be joining the McKeesport Community Newsroom for a conversation about her life and career with writer Jane Vranish next Monday, April 27 at 7 p.m. 

Tunie is a Mon Valley native and a graduate of the Steel Valley High School. She was born in McKeesport and grew up in Homestead.  

You can join in via:

Engaging conversations arise from COVID-19 through discussions on A Valid Podcast

How far our work to integrate people with disabilities in media has come! Two years after we invited people with disabilities to air grievances about news coverage at an event on the North Side, some of the very same people are part of COVID-19 news coverage.

A Valid Podcast, hosted on Unabridged Press' YouTube channel, brings together our students and staff along with professional journalists. What makes A Valid Podcast stand apart from other news coverage is the breadth of new voices invited into the conversation. Disability advocates Alisa Grishman, Josie Badger and others are analysts on the program. 

They're engaging in conversation with reporters like the Post-Gazette's Sean Hamill, who's been covering COVID-19 cases and deaths at Beaver County's largest nursing home. The advocates are gaining a better understanding of journalism, and reporters like Hamill are hearing an underrepresented perspective. The episode with Hamill also included a recently discharged nursing home patient. Her sobering story is worth a listen. 

A Valid Podcast is an outgrowth of the Center for Media Innovation's collaboration with Unabridged Press that aims to integrate people with disabilities in media coverage. Please know that we are also scheduling virtual podcast workshops at this time that are free to people with disabilities. 

To learn more, or to participate in this work, contact or 412-339-0748.

– Jennifer Szweda Jordan, founder of Unabridged Press

Point Park University President Paul Hennigan talked to Our Region's Business host Bill Flanagan about the response to COVID-19 by colleges and universities in Pittsburgh in the show's March 29 episode.

But first, he gave a shout-out to the Center for Media Innovation, whose staff helped with that episode and has continued to help with remote production of the show on WPXI-TV:
Flanagan: "Is this the kind of thing you envisioned this academic facility would one day help to support?"

Hennigan: "It is, it's exactly what we had envisioned. With communication and media changing so quickly, we needed an incubator where journalists and communications experts could come together and try to be on the cutting-edge of how all of this is changing ..."

Watch the full video and see other episodes on WPXI's website.

Screenshot by Nick Ruffolo

Pittsburgh Media Organizations Constrict Under COVID-19 Shutdown

CMI Director Andrew Conte served as a guest on WESA-FM's "The Confluence" to talk about how local news organizations were handling COVID-19, and to announce the Pittsburgh Media Partnership.

Listen on WESA's website.

Photography B.F.A. student Mallory Neil lands dream internship with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC

"Since Point Park has a good reputation of setting students up with the tools they need, companies are more willing to hire Point Park students because they know we’re well-equipped and have the ability to succeed. We are able to get real-world opportunities even as freshmen to build our portfolios and resumes." 

Read more

School of Communication Announces New Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising

A 36-credit Master of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising degree will be offered at Point Park, starting this fall. This program, which is currently a specialization as part of the Master of Arts in Media Communication, is now a standalone master's degree.  

Read more

Hands-on experience equips alumna Casey Hoolahan for career in TV news

"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!"

Read more

Magazine reporting students aim for 'good and bad' of new decade

Point Park students in the Multiplatform Magazine Reporting class, led by professor Bill Moushey recently published "Mad Decade" magazine. "The heart of journalism lies in truth, and this magazine is dedicated to the pursuit of all of our truths ...

(T)ogether, and with the help of our supportive professor, we have compiled a collection of articles that outline the good and the bad of the new decade. Even though our whole worlds have been shifted due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to stare the threat in the face and write down all we see."

Read the magazine online​​

On Media: Local publications form Pittsburgh Media Partnership to report on big topics with impact  

More than a year ago the CMI initiated a collaborative reporting project that brought together news organizations across the region, forming the Pittsburgh Media Partnership. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, this new partnership quickly pivoted to supporting journalists and helping them share the many unique stories and perspectives on the crisis throughout our region. Learn more in CMI Director Andrew Conte's latest column for NEXTPittsburgh. 

Read more here

News about news: COVID-19 causes disinformation, journalism layoffs

Pittsburgh Magazine: Unforeseen Circumstances Shine Light on the Value of Journalism

Whether through their writing and reporting or work behind-the-scenes, everyone on our team has given a little extra these past few weeks and has done work that seems a little more valuable than in normal times.
Carnegie Mellon University professor Kathleen Carley and her research team have identified more than 100 instances of disinformation – that is, false information purposefully meant to mislead readers – related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Poynter: Here are the newsroom layoffs, furloughs and closures caused by the coronavirus

Here’s [Poynter's] attempt to collect the layoffs, furloughs, and closures caused by the coronavirus’ critical blow to the economy and journalism in the United States. Please send tips. We’ll try to keep up.
Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation had planned to host a high school media day event in March, which had 130 registered students. When coronavirus concerns forced the university to make the event virtual — with a livestream of the keynote speaker — it actually attracted 748 viewers online, according to Andrew Conte, director of the Center for Media Innovation.
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Newsletter compiled by CMI Studio Tech Olivia Valyo & Graduate Assistant Stacey Federoff

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