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Graduate Assistant 

Primary Function: Work with the staff of the Center for Media Innovation to collaborate on community outreach, professional development, and public events.

Administrative Assistant 

Primary Function: Coordinate and perform administrative functions in support of the School of Communication and Center for Media Innovation.
 

Sunnie Clahchischiligi of Searchlight New Mexico Wins $20,000 Media Fellowship from Center for Media Innovation 


Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation received a record number of applications this year. More than 40 pitches were submitted by a diverse and exceptionally talented group of writers, filmmakers and multimedia journalists across the nation.  
 
The judges identified 10 finalists and the following three fellows:


Sunnie Clahchischiligi of Searchlight New Mexico is the winner of this year’s $20,000 Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship from the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University. Clahchischiligi, a contributing writer for Searchlight New Mexico, proposed a project which will investigate how potentially thousands of students on the Navajo Nation went missing during the pandemic and expose a myriad of educational failures, failures that run far deeper than the public knows. Clahchischiligi will gather exclusive, unearthed data to document the negligence of schools across the Navajo Nation and beyond, reported via a series of stories, enriched by photos, data-visuals, graphics and videos. Clahchischiligi grew up on a remote homestead on the Navajo Nation near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, and has worked in journalism for 15 years.  
 
“I am elated, honored, and extremely humbled to receive this fellowship. It will allow me to continue working on stories focused on Navajo students -- the Navajo Nation’s future leaders -- as well as to reveal the critical problems within the education systems in Indian Country. The pandemic has made longstanding hardships even more pronounced, so this is a crucial time to address the issue,” Clahchischiligi said. 
  
“Investigative reporting in Indian Country is challenging. Gathering data from agencies like the Bureau of Indian Education is also difficult — and stonewalling occurs often. But with the help of this fellowship, I will be able to reveal how Indigenous students have been denied the education they deserve.” 
 

Laura Corley, a freelance reporter from Coastal Georgia’s The Current, is the winner of the second fellowship award of $5,000. Corley’s project will investigate the toxicity of the waterways near Brunswick, Georgia, where tons of toxic waste was dumped by factories for decades. The Gullah Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans, are among the most affected. Across the causeway live some of Georgia’s most affluent communities. Local officials, worried about the image of these wealthy retreats, refuse to acknowledge this crisis. Corley’s work will provide clarity about the public health threat of the toxins, reveal the political lobbying that has kept them unregulated, and ideally inspire legal changes to hold companies and officials to account. 
 
Corley commented, “This fellowship award gives roots to a long-overdue project.  Now it can grow.” 

 

Rich Lord, economic development reporter/editor for PublicSource in Pittsburgh, is the winner of the third fellowship award of $2,500. Lord’s project will probe into “milking” by landlords in the Mon Valley, whereby landlords obtain properties as cheaply as possible, spend little on upkeep, dodge enforcement efforts, and churn through tenants using eviction to maximize profits.  
 
Lord said, “Struggling tenants have emerged as iconic figures in the pandemic economy, and we’ve covered their stories. Insecurity in the rental market, though, didn’t start with COVID-19, and isn’t confined to big cities or sprawling suburban complexes. Point Park University's Center for Media Innovation Doris O'Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship will allow PublicSource to take our coverage of landlord-tenant issues in a different direction and to neighborhoods that have seen declining coverage due to media consolidation.” 
 
Over the course of the coming months, Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation will be working closely with each of the fellowship winners on the development of their stories. As part of this process, students in Point Park’s journalism program will have the chance to engage with the fellows throughout the upcoming academic year.
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.

Mon Valley Photography Collective Documents Hidden Spaces


More than a dozen members of the Mon Valley Photography Collective spent time exploring the People’s Building downtown to document areas that have not been used in years. Tube City Writers participant Colette Funches offered these observations:

"The city of McKeesport was founded in 1760 by John McKee. The McKeesport of old was an influential city which offered mills, lovely buildings, factories, churches, and elegant society tea parties. The 8th floor stirred up in me the thought of a bird in a gilded cage. The height of the building, eight floors, was considered very tall – the proper height for a building.

The bank opened in 1907, believed to have been built by the Masons fraternal organization. The marble Greek pillars that frame the building were made of marble sections stacked and cemented together.

As our tour group Tube City Writers and photographers entered this grand building, we did not know what awaited us. The glass encased roster still lists names of modern day companies that once had offices at the old Peoples building. Names such as Auberle, Allegheny Valley Employment Center and Urban League Satellite Office were there and the American Indian Center." 

Photograph by Nya O'Neal, participant in the McKeesport Community Newsroom's Mon Valley Photography Collective.
 
The Collective also explored Kennywood Park as it prepared for its reopening this month and to capture images of how it appears during the rarely seen spring season.


Photograph by Isaiah Johnson.
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.

Disabilities Should Not Define Who Journalists Are

A man with glasses, dark brown hair, a maroon shirt, and backward baseball cap stands at the left, holding a microphone and cable and looking at a teen boy in a grey shirt, glasses, and backward baseball cap. The teen at the right is talking and gesturing to the paper in his hand. Behind and between them are a teen girl with long light brown hair and a green shirt, and a teen boy with headphones around his neck and a dark orange graphic shirt behind a chair. Behind them are a gray cabinet, more chairs, and backpacks.
“People with disabilities … shouldn’t be defined by their disability, but, just like everyone else, by their character,” says Nick Tommarello, who will graduate from Point Park University this month with a degree in broadcast journalism. Nick joined the All-Abilities Media Project in his sophomore year to help with a weekend workshop, and since then he has continued to teach people with disabilities about podcasting and video production. According to Nick, the project shaped his understanding of his field. “In fast-paced news cycles, time is critical,” he says. “The battle to not only be first in reporting, but accurate, hinders accessibility.”

We look forward to seeing Nick move the needle on accessibility throughout his career. His final project as a student with our program is production of a new video for Bethel Park Public Access Television. In the video, founding host of the award-winning “Look Who’s Here!” Erin Gannon interviews Karen Jacobsen, director of the Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh (a group home agency). We’ll share the link in a future newsletter. Many thanks and congratulations to Nick!

And props to Rachel Kallem Whitman, All-Abilities Media participant and advisor. She just won a Part-Time Faculty Mission Grant from Duquesne University to record interviews with disability advocates who serve as guest lecturers for her class, “Unpacking Ableism.” Rachel will be engaging her students in real life disability experiences, as well as the impact of ableism and how to fight it. She hopes to provide the education necessary for her students to be able to meaningfully connect with the disability community and leave with a better understanding of what it means to have a disability. 

Many thanks to the FISA Foundation for helping us support Nick and Rachel's work to create greater understanding of disability through digital media. We also appreciate the contributions of Robert and Anne Dabecco, in honor of former All-Abilities Media assistant project manager Francesca Dabecco, who also “graduated” from All-Abilities Media and now directs Pittsburgh news site and newsletter The Incline.

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




 
Above: Nick Tommarello, at left, shows audio equipment to students at the Joey Travolta/Arts for Autism Film Camp in 2019. Photograph by Heather Conroy.
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.
WSAZ-TV Hires Kimberly Keagy '19 as a Multimedia Journalist 

"With the hands-on experience in the classroom from day one, I was prepared for internships my sophomore year of college. Do as many internships as possible, the more real-world experience you have will help you excel." 

— Kimberly Keagy

Read more
Digital Media Internship With Schneider's Dairy Provides Hands-On Experience for Multimedia Major Kelsee McHugh

"Point Park's classes and faculty helped me excel in this internship by preparing me with a diverse skill set that has instilled confidence in my abilities to succeed at Schneider’s. Classes such as Video Production, Social Media Practices and Advertising Layout have helped with the development of transferable skills. The frequency of group collaboration is exceptional practice for working effectively with a team."

— Kelsee McHugh

Read more

On Media: Pittsburgh Current Founder Launches Journalism Nonprofit

Journalists are not turning to nonprofit models to justify making less money -- but so they can change the public's mindset and develop more funding sources.

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

News About News: Transparency in Writing; Cameras in the Courtroom

In the digital world, in which millions of Times readers absorb the paper’s journalism online, there is no geographical “Op-Ed,” just as there is no geographical “Ed” for Op-Ed to be opposite to. It is a relic of an older age and an older print newspaper design.

So now, at age 50, the designation will be retired. Editorials will still be called editorials, but the articles written by outside writers will be known as “Guest Essays,” a title that will appear prominently above the headline.
 
When your student publication runs columns or editorials, how do you explain them to your readers and distinguish them from news stories? How does this distinction work online vs. in print?
 
The rules about cameras and other recording devices in courtrooms vary from state to state. Minnesota isn’t usually friendly to them.

In fact, as The Star Tribune editorial board recently wrote, “Until now, Minnesota has been known for its restrictive cameras-in-the-courtroom policies and only allowed audio and video recordings after a guilty plea or a guilty verdict.”

COVID-19 protocols, among other things, resulted in the Derek Chauvin trial being streamed live, renewing conversation about cameras in the courtroom.
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Newsletter compiled by CMI Studio Tech Olivia Valyo

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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 CenterForMediaInnovation.com 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 PointPark.edu to learn more.







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