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For the new year, set new expectations

Meet Erin Gannon, media host. Erin has emerged over the past two years as a leading voice for people with disabilities: “Some people have all different kinds of disabilities,” she says in a new video by Heinz Endowments highlighting her work. “There’s people out there who don’t understand it and treat you

The reality is that while Erin does do some things differently because she has Down syndrome, technology has given her a chance to tell stories to wider audiences. Jennifer Swezda Jordan, a project manager working with the CMI, started the All-Abilities Media project to help Erin and people like her to learn journalism skills.
So far, Erin has used that opportunity to create a podcast that has won two Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. She has told the stories of people in her life, even interviewing her parents about what it was like to raise a child with a disability. At the same time, she has started working in communications at Achieva, a disabilities service group. 

As we lean into another new year, Erin reminds us of the potential we all have to break down barriers and to set new expectations by innovating. The CMI plans to push boundaries in 2020 by bringing together regional media outlets for a collaborative reporting project, encouraging more original reporting in places where local journalism is lacking, and supporting the work that Erin and Jennifer are doing to give more people the abilities to tell our stories. We hope that you will join us. 

– Director Andrew Conte and CMI staff

19 media organizations sign on for Pittsburgh Media Project collaborative

Above: Doug Heuck (right), editor and publisher of Pittsburgh Quarterly, pitches a topic for the Pittsburgh Media Partnership's first project at a workshop. AmyJo Brown, project editor, listens.

The Pittsburgh Media Partnership officially formed this month, after a year-long series of conversations and meetings held through the Bridge Pittsburgh initiative. The 19 founding partners include:

  • Ambridge Connection
  • Environmental Health News
  • Homewood Nation
  • McKees Rocks Gazette 2.0
  • Mon Valley Independent
  • New Pittsburgh Courier
  • NEXTpittsburgh
  • Pittsburgh Business Times
  • Pittsburgh City Paper
  • Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle
  • Pittsburgh Quarterly
  • Postindustrial
  • Presente Pittsburgh Media
  • PublicSource
  • Soul Pitt Quarterly
  • Storyburgh
  • Trib Total Media
  • Unabridged Press
  • WESA

The effort is a historic collaboration among Pittsburgh's media. Throughout the next year, the organizations will examine the causes behind the region's population decline and help facilitate conversations about solutions that will both retain and attract a more diverse population. In addition to the results of the work itself, the process of working collaboratively is likely to have a lasting impact on the region's media ecosystem.

Read more about the project on its website:

Students to add Pittsburgh data to Doris O'Donnell Fellowship winner's investigation

Erica Hensley of Mississippi Today, winner of the inaugural Doris O'Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship, will return to Point Park University from Jan. 27 to 31.

As she continues her investigative reporting work on lead levels in the Mississippi Delta, she will work with students in Bill Moushey’s investigative and digital magazine classes in Point Park’s School of Communication, and Matt Opdyke’s graduate environmental health course in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Through this cross-school collaboration, Opdyke’s students are going to collect Pittsburgh-level data to help Erica’s data analysis with comparative statistics, and Moushey’s students will have the opportunity to help with research tasks. Erica will present her final story on campus in late April.

The annual fellowship is made possible through a three-year grant from the Allegheny Foundation.

Read more here.

McKeesport Community Newsroom looking forward to continued growth in 2020

The McKeesport Community Newsroom is looking forward to continued growth in 2020 through engagement new audiences and building new partnerships:

  • Tube City Writers kicks off its Winter/Spring 2020 schedule at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23 with facilitator Dr. Nicole Peeler of Seton Hill University. No experience is needed and all ages are welcome. Participants can drop in.
  • Our first program of the new year will be a session on copyright and intellectual property with Pittsburgh-based commercial photographer Elliott Cramer. The session is tentatively scheduled for February.
  • The Art of the Interview is another upcoming workshop to be held at the McKeesport Community Newsroom at Tube City Center (former Daily News building) in McKeesport. The goal of the workshop is to help participants feel more comfortable conducting interviews through preparation, observation and listening.
  • The Adult Photography Workshop is an ongoing opportunity to improve photography skills through critiques and hands-on experience while photographing in the community. In partnership with the Carnegie Library of McKeesport, the group meets at 6 p.m. on the first Monday of every month at the library, 1507 Library Ave. in McKeesport.
Photo by Jennifer McCalla during an Adult Photography Workshop session at Kennywood's Holiday Lights

All-Abilities Media celebrates 30th anniversary of ADA this year

All-Abilities Media Project plans to celebrate the fully bipartisan Americans with Disabilities Act, which turns 30 this year, as part of the CMI's continuing collaboration with Unabridged Press. 

The group offers podcast workshops to people with disabilities. One of the latest episodes features young adults who have autism interviewing a Duquesne University psychologist about her work to educate cops, judges, and jailers about autism. All-Abilities Media is thrilled to have received support from The FISA Foundation, and an anonymous foundation.

In addition to workshops, the project produces new audio and video featuring new talent with and without disabilities. Journalists, take note: A workshop about reporting on vulnerable populations is coming soon. Dr. Rachel Kallem Whitman will educate, entertain and turn upside down what you think you know about disability. She teaches disability studies at Duquesne University and is the author of the new memoir "Instability in Six Colors" – about her "shacking up with bipolar disorder since 2000."

All-Abilities Media is always looking for media professionals with five or more years experience to mentor aspiring podcasters. Interested? Contact

School of Communication to offer new Master of Arts in Environmental Journalism

Point Park University will offer a 36-credit Master of Arts in Environmental Journalism starting in Fall 2020. This unique new master's program combines practical communication and journalism courses with graduate-level environmental science instruction to equip students with professional skills and expertise for the growing career options in the environmental field, generously supported by The Heinz Endowments.

Read more on the School of Communication's website.

Alumni profile: Kalea Hall, '13 

Now working as an automotive reporter for the Detroit News, Kalea Hall shares advice for potential School of Communication students and how Point Park prepared her for her career: 

"When I left, I felt ready to tackle every story thrown at me from the tearjerkers to the hard-hitting investigative pieces that create change."

Read more on School of Communication's website.

On Media: 2019 marks the end of metro daily newspapers

A tipping point toward no return, 2019 saw local and national changes to newspapers that foretell the coming acceptance of new types of metro news organizations, says CMI Director Andrew Conte, who serves as NextPittsburgh's public editor.

Read more here.

Spend an evening with CNN's Jim Acosta

Tickets for Feb. 6 available here

News about news: KQV returns, NYT reader mentions Post-Gazette

New York Times: More than 1 in 5 U.S. newspapers has closed. This is the result.
We asked readers living in communities with newspapers that were shut down or gutted to tell us how they had been affected.
Our paper hasn’t closed yet, but the Pittsburgh Post Gazette began publishing only 
three days a week in September. I am retired, as is my husband. His day begins with reading the paper — not online, but sitting in his chair and reading every single word. I don’t know if he will ever read it online. And I know many people feel the same way. It will soon be a lost art — reading at leisure, at the kitchen table, talking about local happenings. 
— Barb Krause, Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette: Owner says summer return of 1410 KQV will likely feature music instead of news/talk format
This summer might well bring the return of KQV-AM, but it probably won’t have the news and talk radio format listeners knew for decades.
“Certainly, it’s going to be 1410 KQV, but I don’t believe it’s going to be — at least not at this point in time — what it was before Bob Dickey turned it off at the end of 2017,” said Robert Stevens, whose Broadcast Communications Inc. purchased KQV from Mr. Dickey’s Calvary Inc. last year. KQV went dark on New Year’s Eve in 2017.

OMISSION: In December 2019 edition, Stephen Willing should have received photo credit for picture of Tube City Writers Live's Isaiah Johnson performing at the event. We regret the omission.
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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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