We did some amazing work in January.
When a cop dies in the line of duty, cops gather by the hundreds or thousands for the funeral. That’s the brotherhood, and Andrew Rush captured it poignantly with this Jan. 6 photo of the funeral for state Trooper Landon Weaver, killed while answering a domestic disturbance call in Blair County. The photo on A-1 was so good it rendered the wire story inside a footnote.
- It’s tough to handle the day-to-day pressures of a busy beat while still pumping out the enterprise and big-picture stories that give context to the work. Paula Reed Ward is a master juggler, and her Jan. 15 piece on the Superior Court’s rebuke of Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel was worth every moment she invested in it.
Judges, lawyers, defendants, law students and policymakers all had reasons to be grateful for Paula’s story, which artfully explained the appellate court’s concern about a thumb on the scales of justice.
While much about the opioid crisis is sad, few stories on the subject have wrenched the heart like Liz Navratil’s Jan. 22 account of the life and death of 20-year-old Casey Schwartzmier.If she died of an overdose, she told her mom, she wanted her story told. Michelle Schwartzmier honored her request with a candid obit, and Liz took it from there, compiling a deeply detailed, eloquent narrative on a tight deadline for Sunday’s paper.Casey wanted her story to save at least one person from addiction. Let’s hope it did.
Pam Panchak’s Jan. 18 shot of the demolition of the last screen at the Twin Hi-Way Drive In Theater in Robinson was a beaut. Pam captured an excavator in mid attack, as bricks and other debris tumbled to the ground. The shot rightly ran on A-1.
- Peter Smith, who wrote a moving eulogy for Father Michael Scanlan of Franciscan University sent along kudos — well-deserved — to Haley Nelson for her moving shots of the wake.
Nate Guidry gets a shout out, too, for a Jan. 9 photo that laid bare the sadness of an Ohio Township fire that killed 15-year-old Hannah Milbert. His photo showed the remnants of a garage, with unrecognizable pieces of debris filling the rest of the frame, right up to Nate’s feet.Karen Kane handled the reporting on this weekend story and, as is her custom, managed to fill the piece with biographical information and quotes that can be difficult to pry from people involved in a tragedy. She followed up her initial story with a Jan. 13 piece that led with a gripping account of how Hannah’s parents tried to save her from the blaze.
- Karen has a knack for compassionate but frank telling of these kinds of stories, as anyone who has followed her coverage of the missing Fowler twins can attest. Her work on this story included a powerful takeout Jan. 1 followed by stories Jan. 28 and 29, respectively, on the mother’s disappearance and arrest.
Ed Blazina passed along his praise for the Jan. 22 NFL Sunday Playoff Xtra, which depicted a football as the Death Star from “Star Wars” and the New England Patriots as the evil Galactic Empire. Dan Marsula and Ben Howard were the creative geniuses behind this awesome graphic, which included an attacking Steelers logo shaped like the Millennium Falcon.Unfortunately for Steelers fans, the princes of light fell to the forces of darkness this time. But that’s OK. Before you know it, the heroic, fearless rebels will be regrouping at their base in Latrobe.
The big-screen adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences” has helped to keep Pittsburgh in the national spotlight in recent months, and Sharon Eberson’s prequels and sequels have kept PG readers enthralled. That included her Jan. 25 piece on the movie’s four Oscar nominations, her Jan. 5 piece on the movie’s local financial impact and a pair of Dec. 22 stories, one on Wilson’s importance to those involved in making the movie and the other on locations involved in the filming. The latter included a James Hilston guide to filming locations that’s sure to become historically significant. Some day, locals and visitors alike will want to look those places up.