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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pittsburgh official Twitter account retweets a user with title "WHITE NATIONALIST"; city says it was in error

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 5:11 PM

IMAGE COURTESY OF TWITTER
  • Image courtesy of Twitter
Sometime between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., Pittsburgh's official Twitter account, @CityPGH, retweeted a tweet from an account named "WHITE NATIONALIST" in all caps. The user's handle is @FIGHT_4UR_RIGHT and the profile states, in all capital letters, "GLOBALISTS DESTROY BORDERS, LANGUAGE & CULTURE OF SOVEREIGN NATIONS. THEY WANNA DUMP TRUMP, HELP MUSLIMS & RULE THRU SHARIA LAW!"

The retweet in question was a reply to a video of actress Jennifer Lawrence saying "Hey Trump, fuck you," referring to President Donald Trump. The tweet from "WHITE NATIONALIST" stated "THAT PERSON IS THE ACTRESS, Jennifer Lawrence. I'M SURE HER PARENTS ARE VERY PROUD. ... #PENNSYLVANIA #PITTSBURG @dailypenn @PittsburghPG." Pittsburgh's official Twitter account was also tagged in this tweet.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette employees plan byline strike Thursday to protest stalled contract negotiations with management

Posted By on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 1:39 PM

pg.jpg
In response to stalled contract negotiations and company demands for steep concessions, newsroom employees of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will begin a byline strike against management.

Pittsburgh City Paper
confirmed the action through several P-G staff members, who wished to remain anonymous. CP also read the email alerting employees of the action.

The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh represents reporters, copy editors and photographers at the P-G. Employees with the guild have been working without a contract since March 31, 2017.

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

KDKA journalist Marty Griffin tweets meme making light of sexual misconduct

Posted By on Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 6:11 PM

A now-deleted tweet from Marty Griffin's Twitter account - IMAGE COURTESY OF TWITTER
  • Image courtesy of Twitter
  • A now-deleted tweet from Marty Griffin's Twitter account
KDKA television and radio personality Marty Griffin posted a tweet on social media Wednesday morning that appears to make light of sexual assault and harassment. The post comes in the midst of almost daily reports about men in positions of power sexually assaulting and harassing women.

At 10:15 a.m. on Dec. 6, Griffin tweeted from his account a meme of a toy elf recording four Barbie dolls sitting in a sink filled with bubbles with “elf on the shelf being investigated for sexual misconduct.” Griffin wrote on the tweet “Where does it end?”

Four people replied on Twitter and two of them didn't appreciate the post. One wrote “not funny” and another “Are you this dumb or are you playin' us?”

Pittsburgh Action Against Rape director Alison Hall says she is “disappointed” in Griffin’s tweet. “This is not a time to try to be silly about this topic. I would expect more of him.”

Pittsburgh City Paper emailed Griffin at 4:25 p.m. for comment and the tweet was deleted a short time after. CP has reached out to both Griffin and KDKA management for comment. We will post their comments when and if they respond.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Johnstown progressives are sick of national media painting them solely as Trump Country

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 1:20 PM

View of Downtown Johnstown from across the Stone Bridge. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL BALKO
  • Photo courtesy of Phil Balko
  • View of Downtown Johnstown from across the Stone Bridge.
On Nov. 8, Politico published a story many in the Pittsburgh region have seen too many times. Reporter Michael Kruse traveled to Johnstown, in Cambria County, to talk to the same people he interviewed for a  story published prior to Donald Trump being elected president. The reporting investigated whether Trump voters had soured on the president, and Kruse sought their input on the ongoing political and cultural wars nationwide. Like many dispatches from the Rust Belt by national publications, the story painted Johnstown as a no-hope town, overrun by drugs and blight, and still in love with Trump.

Since its publication, the Politico story has spread widely on social media, thanks to the explosive final quote in which a white, elderly Trump voter says NFL players are “Niggers for life.”

But progressives in Johnstown aren’t happy. Indivisible Johnstown, a progressive group that has held candidate forums for 2018 Democratic congressional candidates, responded on Facebook: “We are OUTRAGED that this POLITICO reporter and EVERY reporter who comes to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is only looking to tell a story of American Carnage. … Many, many citizens here are not misogynistic, racists like the Neanderthals in this article. They are working hard to make a difference.”

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pittsburgh policing expert David Harris celebrates 50 episodes of Criminal (In)Justice podcast

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 1:19 PM

David Harris - PHOTO COURTESTY OF CRIMINAL (IN)JUSTICE
  • Photo courtesty of Criminal (In)Justice
  • David Harris
Over the last several years, interest in complex policing stories has mushroomed. The Black Lives Matter movement, as well as immigrant-justice groups, have capitalized and propelled these stories, frustrated in how criminal-justice matters were too often swept under the rug.

University of Pittsburgh professor and well-known policing expert David Harris knows this all too well. For decades, he has been a go-to source for many media outlets (including Pittsburgh City Paper) for criminal-justice stories. He has even testified before the U.S. Congress on the subject.

And with all his available knowledge and expertise, Harris wanted to bring it directly to the the public. So last year, Harris started the Criminal (In)Justice podcast with help from former and current WESA staff members Josh Raulerson and Megan Harris. The first episode aired in March 2016, and this weeks marks the 50th episode.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher hangs on Donald Trump’s jet in a ‘more than memorable’ experience

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 5:13 PM

Donald Trump and Post-Gazette Publisher/Editor-in-Chief John Robinson Block
  • Donald Trump and Post-Gazette Publisher/Editor-in-Chief John Robinson Block
Earlier this year, an online news site reported on a possible primary-election endorsement of Donald Trump by the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In that report, Philadelphia-based Billy Penn talked to sources in the P-G newsroom who were unhappy about any possible endorsement. The website wrote: “Some Post-Gazette reporters are worried about their paper’s credibility should it support the billionaire candidate who’s campaigned on a platform that includes deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, building a wall between the United States and Mexico and banning Muslims from entering the country.”

If staffers were worried then, they couldn’t have been happy to learn that John Robinson Block, the paper’s publisher and editor-in-chief, spent a little time in Toledo Wednesday hanging out on Donald Trump’s private plane and getting his picture taken with the Republican presidential nominee. The visit was even documented in the Toledo Blade, the P-G’s sister publication in Ohio.

According to the paper: “After the campaign rally, Mr. Trump met with Blade Publisher and Editor-in-Chief John Robinson Block and Blade Editorial Page Editor Keith Burris on his plane at Toledo Express Airport.”

Sources tell City Paper that the photo was posted on Block’s Facebook page under the caption: “In 39 years of full time journalism I’ve met many interesting people. This one was more than memorable.” Both men are smiling and Trump is giving a thumbs up.

Asked via email for comment about the photo, and whether it could suggest that the P-G might be slanted toward Mr. Trump, an email from the Post-Gazette’s Deb Sacco read: "Mr. Deitch, Over the course of his career, Mr. Block has been photographed with many people. Attached, is another ..."
Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block getting a photo with Hillary Clinton, although not on a private plane
  • Post-Gazette Publisher John Robinson Block getting a photo with Hillary Clinton, although not on a private plane
However, despite also shaking hands with Hillary Clinton, there are obvious differences between the two photos, not the least of which is that only one was taken on a private plane. Judging from the appearances of its two subjects, the Clinton photo also appears to have been taken some years ago, rather than during a hotly contested presidential campaign.

CP also contacted Michael A. Fuoco, president of The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, which represents the paper’s union employees, to get his take about the photo.

“I don’t feel the guild can make a comment on the actions of the publisher and editor in chief,” Fuoco said. “But, regardless of what happens in the fall, if we do endorse for president, we will have no opinion about that. We are completely separate from that and we stay away from it.”


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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pittsburgh's 'Q Morning Show' with Jim Krenn ends after one year; Comedian Mike Wysocki will continue writing 'City Paper' sports column

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Most people who know City Paper are aware of the fact that we were sold by Steel City Media earlier this year to Eagle Publishing, out of Butler, Pa. And despite moving from one side of our current office space to another, things here, particularly the editorial focus has not changed.

I share that piece of history to share this: Our old company, Steel City Media, held a
CP FILE PHOTO
  • CP File Photo
 meeting this morning in which staff members were told that the Q-92 on-air talent were no longer on the air this morning. Sources confirm this, as do our eyes, which witnessed the meeting this morning. We have been told by several sources that the station will run without on-air talent for a few weeks. We are uncertain if the on-air talent will be retained. I asked my former boss — Michael Frischling of Steel City Media — about the changes, and a bit ago he sent me this statement addressing only the fact that the "Q Morning Show" starring Jim Krenn, Mike Wysocki and Chris K. had been taken off the air:

“A mutual agreement has been reached by Jim Krenn and Q929FM, about the future of Jim Krenn & The Q Morning Show. With Krenn’s active schedule of charity work, comedy events, and various other commitments, both parties agree that this would be the best time for Krenn to pursue other obligations that will take him away from the day to day duties anchoring a morning show.

‘I will be working on some film projects, a new web series, along with various comedy events’ says Krenn, ‘and things have really taken off for me since my return to radio.'  Krenn continues, ‘Steel City Media is a family-owned radio station that cares about this community, and those are the kind of people I hope to be around for a long time.’

Jim Krenn will remain as an ambassador for the station and be an active part of Q929FM. Program Director Zak Szabo says 'We hate to see Jim go off the air right now, but we support his decision. He has been an amazing addition to Q929, and we look forward to working with him.'”

I share that piece of news to share the real reason I’m writing anything today. I’m not sure of all the details about what happened at Q-92 or if the talent has been permanently removed or not, but I have my suspicions. But here’s what I know for sure: Regardless of what happens there, comedian, sports columnist and all-around great Pittsburgher Mike Wysocki will continue writing his column for us here at City Paper. I texted with Mike today, and not only will he continue to write for us and do his weekly City Paper Snapchat feature, we’re hoping to find a way to work with him even more in the future.

It’s funny that the only reason that Mike writes for us now is that we once both worked for Steel City Media. I was asked to try Mike out as a columnist, even though the cynical journalist in me saw it as little more than an attempt at cross-promotion and doubted it would work out. But boy was I wrong. Mike has a unique perspective on sports and is able to relay that to the audience in a funny, engaging way. He has really grown as a writer, and his columns are one of the most popular features we offer.

Mike is taking this week off from his column, and I will do my best to fill in as a guest host from the “Cheap Seats” (although please give me some latitude when I’m not as funny as him). So while I don’t know a lot about the situation at Q-92 today, what I do know is that those of us here at CP support Mike, respect his talent and plan on keeping him writing for our pages as long as he wants to. 

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Verizon, CWA agree to contract; little guy's news story is pulled

Posted By on Fri, Jun 3, 2016 at 2:08 PM

PHOTO BY WILLIAM LUDT
  • Photo by William Ludt


Everybody remembers their first one — the first story they report on when they’re hired at a newspaper. At my university’s paper, my first story was on the new Chick-Fil-A opening on campus. Here at the City Paper, it was a story on the Communication Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ strike against their employer, Verizon. So, let’s just call that an upgrade in terms of subject matter.


As reporters, we’re expected to sprint after a story — pen and notebook in hand. We attempt to hurdle over other news organizations; grill corporate spokespersons for a quote; and take complicated ideas and put them in layman's terms. All the while, we slowly turn to dust waiting for the records we requested back when Jesus was in grade school.


Then we struggle to get our damn audio recorder on for an interview, and we end up spilling that day's 12th cup of coffee all over ourselves. (Full disclosure: I don’t drink coffee, but hopefully you’re picking up what I’m putting down.) It can be thankless work. And sometimes the story evolves. In the case of this CWA strike story, that’s what happened.


This past weekend, after spending most of Friday afternoon walking the streets of Cleveland (yes, Cleveland. What of it?), I made my way to my favorite dive bar for what was going to be a weekend of loud, angry music. It was a great week so far. I was riding high on the anticipation of my first story, as a news intern, being published in the City Paper — my first reporting position outside of a university newspaper.


I was sitting at a booth on the back patio of said bar, catching up with a friend and talking about punk music. That’s when I received a Google Alert about the strike. It stated that the unions and Verizon came to a tentative contract agreement. I slunk down a bit in my seat and thought about what that agreement could possibly mean for what I’d written earlier that week.


I thought about the workers on the sidewalk 24 hours a day outside the Verizon technical center next door to our office. I thought about the interviews and b-roll a coworker and I shot of said workers, as they shook pom-poms and blasted an air horn at passing traffic. I thought about the Verizon representative I spoke with who couldn’t tell me anything about contract negotiations — as well as the union rep who couldn’t say anything either. And, I thought about the union workers I met one Saturday afternoon, who rallied with friends and family members outside a call center in the pouring rain, cheering with a chorus of car horns — still jovial after a full month of picketing.

PHOTO BY WILLIAM LUDT
  • Photo by William Ludt


The following day, I checked my inbox again. I received yet another update: The unions were going back to work. After 45 days of picketing, the largest strike in recent U.S. history ended, thus nixing my story.


Prior to the contract agreement, there was silence on both sides of the strike, so I hadn’t a clue when this was all going to end. The previous CWA strike in 2011 lasted 15 days, but contract negotiations carried on for months after. In this case, it seems that negotiations moved much faster.


Despite the whole triumph of the little guy over a corporation, I was disappointed finding out my story was pulled.

PHOTO BY WILLIAM LUDT
  • Photo by William Ludt


I was back in Pittsburgh after that weekend. I sat in my room — joints swollen, ears ringing — trying to cope with the heat. I moped around my apartment and attempted to achieve catharsis through eating a lot of pretzels and playing violent video games. But to no avail.


I’ll avoid cliche as much as my vocabulary permits, but that’s the way the news-cookie crumbles. One day, folks are standing outside of their employer’s corporate offices, with torso-length signs tethered around their necks, marching up and down the sidewalk, demanding that their wages and benefits return to what they once were. Then the next day, they find out that they’re returning to work.


Regardless of whether my story was printed or not, I put in the legwork. And I’m certain that something I report is bound to be published in the paper ... eventually.

My superiors at the City Paper suggested that I react to having my first full-fledged story pulled from publication by writing this blog post. And it also gives me the opportunity to show off some of the photos I shot between interviews. So, why not?

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Marketing for new Pittsburgh-area haunted attraction has an unmentionable give away

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 1:14 PM

I'm always a little wary when I get a hand-addressed manila envelope in the mail and the package has a strange bulge to it. Not wary enough to leave it closed, but wary nonetheless.

From inside the envelope, I pull out a press release for a new haunted attraction coming to the Pittsburgh region this fall called Haunted Expedition.

"We find people are bored with the same old haunted attractions,"says Sean Berger, CEO of the company called Haunted Expedition Inc. "Customers are becoming less satisfied with walking through hallways and having actors jump out and scare them. They want to be immersed into a life-like experience."

How Immersive? so immersive that you'll ... well, the picture says it all:

Can I get in your pants, I just shit mine? - HAUNTED EXPEDITIONS INC.
  • Haunted Expeditions Inc.
  • Can I get in your pants, I just shit mine?

Look, I'm no Don Draper and I didn't call anyone on Madison Avenue, but I'm pretty sure this is a freakin' brilliant piece of marketing. According to the press release, the venue, which is described as a "hands-on" show, has been opened the past two Halloween but without a formal launch. Berger says, "We wanted to make sure we had everything down pat before we went full swing into advertising."

Full swing? I think fully loaded would have been better. But, again, I'm no Don Draper.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

A conversation with comics journalist Em DeMarco on her first-year anniversary at Pittsburgh City Paper

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 12:17 PM

EM DEMARCO
  • Em Demarco
We’re celebrating Em DeMarco’s first anniversary with Pittsburgh City Paper! Her story this week on The Legend of the Puke marks her first full year of contributing comics-journalism pieces for us, where she covered everything from Braddock Mayor John Fetterman’s run for Senate to the rise of sexually transmitted diseases.

Em DeMarco wasn’t always a journalist. Her first jobs out of school included seamstress, model-maker, carpenter and bread-baker. But after working for two years as an investigative-journalism fellow at Pittsburgh’s PublicSource, DeMarco decided to combine reporting with her artistic talent. That end result is what you see each month on City Paper’s “Last Page” — a totally smart approach to storytelling and a kick-ass addition to your favorite alt-weekly.

She was gracious enough to speak to us via email about her first year of contributing to CP.

Happy anniversary! What’s your favorite piece you’ve done for Pittsburgh City Paper so far?
I’m proud of the climate change story. Among other things, that was the first time I pushed past my comfort zone and began drawing the headline panel. And I think it’s an example of how I like to compare comics journalism to feeding spinach to kids. In other words, it’s a strategy of reporting big (and sometimes overwhelming) issues in a way that might be easier for some readers to digest.

Your very first comics-journalism story for us was “An Introduction to Gender Pronouns,” where you reported on the use of “they, them and their” as pronoun suggestions for transgender men and women. Since then, CP editor Charlie Deitch has implemented the use of “they” as an acceptable practice at City Paper, a decision he says was influenced by your reporting. Have you gotten any feedback from others who have been affected by your pieces?

Yes, it’s humbling to hear positive feedback from readers, people I’ve interviewed for stories and editors who I’ve worked with — including you all at the CP.

On the contrary, a reader also told us your comics journalism report “Brain-FeasterSunday,” on the Zombie Jesus Ball at the Blue Moon Bar on Easter Sunday, was “totally offensive” and “reprehensible.” Was that your first official hate mail?
Hm, I’m not sure. Probably like most reporters, I’ve had some not-so-nice things said/emailed to me by a few press officers. To be fair, I wouldn’t call that hate mail, though.

You started out working as an investigative reporter for PublicSource. Where did the interest in graphics come from?
After my two-year fellowship with PublicSource ended, I wanted to try to merge the two things I loved — reporting and drawing. I had gone to art school years earlier, but the idea of being a gallery artist made me queasy. So for years, my drawings were just things that I kept mostly to myself — kooky drawings, illustrations, comics. When I finally found my way to journalism (and was lucky enough to get the opportunity to do the PublicSource fellowship), I had already been admiring the work of other comics journalists. So I decided to give it a shot.

You have to document more than most reporters, keeping notes of both the story and the visuals. How do you keep track of everything as you’re interviewing someone: Tape the interviews, sketch while they speak, take photos?
Fannypack. And a bag with backups. The fannypack is admittedly nerdy, but I’ve found it’s the best thing for my main reporting tools (notebook, audio recorder, camera phone); the larger bag is for backups (another notebook, pens, batteries, DSLR camera and a snack, of course). Although I admire comics journalists who draw while reporting, I learned pretty quickly that I’m unable to draw and interview at the same time. I think because my brain is focused on follow-up questions in the moment, I’m unable to dedicate much attention to cartooning. But I should say that what I do is the same as any reporter. Listening, asking follow-ups, documenting the space and details, researching, fact-checking, editing, and so on. The only difference is the way the final story is told.

Are you finding it easier as you go along?
Sort of. I’ve definitely become more comfortable with the mechanics of this kind of journalism — knowing what kind of photo reference I’ll need later, how to explain my process to the people I’d like to interview, etc. But to answer your question, I often feel like I don’t know what I’m doing when I’m working on a new story. Even after having many stories behind me that I’m incredibly proud of reporting. Call it imposter syndrome or whatever you like, but what I have learned is that pattern of panic is normal for me. And what I’ve gotten better at is just pushing past all of those garbagey thoughts.

I love that you include yourself in your comics. Was that a conscious decision of yours to help document that your pieces are nonfiction?
Absolutely. Part of it is simply the economy of space. In a print story, the reporter can write one or two paragraphs to hold reader’s hands through complicated issues, or transition from one part of the story to the next. But anyone who’s done a word count will know you can blow through a couple hundred words in a snap. Especially for short pieces, like the one-pagers I do for the City Paper, I’ve got to have a story that has a beginning, middle and an end — using only about 400 words. Inserting myself in the story is a strategy to move the narrative along, make transitions, and stand in for the readers’ (and my own) confusion. (My favorite example of this is when I was reporting the story about the chickens, and the person I was interviewing used the word “vent.”)

It’s similar to writing a script for radio, which is where I got my start. With audio storytelling, you try to avoid using flowery words or long sentences. And some of my favorite moments in audio journalism happen when the producer is tapped into their own confusion. You’ll hear the producer pause or ask a short followup question. It’s in those moments, sometimes punctuated by silence, that we get to hear incredible tape from the people they are interviewing. Moments when they share heartfelt thoughts or insightful realizations.

You’ve done some work for Bitch Media, which is super rad for me to see because Bitch magazine was one of the first publications that helped me learn more about the world as a young feminist back in college. It’s very cool to picture young artists seeing such great work coming from a female with a strong voice. Has there been anything like that in your past that inspired you when you were younger?
Again, radio! During my 20s, I had been working in carpentry and other fabrication shops, listening to tons and tons of podcasts, radio journalism, audio documentaries. Studs Turkel, Amy Goodman, public radio and Indymedia. The ways they were reporting, who they were talking to, what subjects they were covering all left an enormous imprint on me.

In addition to writing and drawing, you also dabble in photography. You’re a woman of many talents! Do you get any greater satisfaction from one of those mediums?

[Blushing] Thank you! Drawing is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. But there’s nothing that I love more than going to a show and standing stupidly close to the speakers and shooting photos. It clears my head in a way that’s hard to explain.

You recently launched The CoJo List, an email roundup of recent nonfiction comics with Washington, D.C. journalist Josh Kramer. You were our first introduction to the medium at City Paper. Have you noticed a surge in nonfiction comics journalism elsewhere?

I don’t know about a surge, but it was a welcome surprise to start receiving submissions from nonfiction cartoonists around the world. The CoJo List has been a lot of fun (and a lot of work) to put together, and I’m thankful that Josh asked me to be a part of this project. We both knew that this work existed, but compiling the newsletter has opened my eyes to just how much excellent comics journalism and nonfiction comics are being made these days. We’re hoping subscribers to the newsletter will nerd out on this stuff as much as we do.

On a lighter note, your piece this week’s issue is on Kennywood. What’s your favorite ride?
The Jack Rabbit. Apparently when I was a kid, I was so terrified,that I tried to jump out during one of the dips, my mom says. It’s not the flashiest coaster, but I love it just the same.

Where can our readers connect with you online?
My website is emdemarco.com or @eademarco on Instagram. If nonfiction comics are your thing, you can check out The CoJo List newsletter at tinyletter.com/cojo. (And if you are a nonfiction cartoonist, consider emailing us — there’s more details on The CoJo List landing page or on Twitter @cojolist.)

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