Guild-Gazette: September 2016



We did some amazing work in September.

  • Amid the epidemic of black men dying at the hands of white police officers, Sean Hamill broke a most unusual story Sept. 11. A white police officer in Weirton, W.Va., chose not to fire on a gun-carrying black man — and claimed the city fired him for his restraint. (A backup officer ended up shooting the man, whose gun was not loaded). It was a remarkable read, made possible by Sean’s legendary tenacity. He began poking around the story in May and never let go despite the many other demands on his time, such as the stellar project on charity care.


  • Ed Blazina did a great job chronicling the temporary shutdown of the Liberty Bridge, and James Hilston’s graphics helped readers understand exactly what happened. With Ed’s Sept. 8 story was a trio of graphics that showed where on the span the fire occurred and how the fire broke out and made the bridge vulnerable. The graphics ran on the jump but would have been a good fit for A1.  The visual aids made a big difference.

  • He’s back. After convalescing, Bill Schackner has returned to the newsroom with his usual zeal for nosing out the best stories in higher education. While covering the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education labor dispute, Bill also found time to write about an innovative inclusion policy at Clarion University, the installation of the Duquesne University president, the crumbling of a California University parking garage and the implosion of ITT Technical Institute. No wonder we missed him.

  • Kudos to Carl Remensky for his clever headline — “Welcome Back Conner” — on a Sept. 4 story marking the return of Pitt’s celebrated running back James Conner. Carl well captured the sentiments of Pitt fans, who are happy to have him, as the song says, “back here where we need ya.”

  • 518zpfmx5nlSports Illustrated writer S.L. Price’s new book, “Playing Through the Whistle,” provides a decade-by-decade look at Aliquippa High School’s celebrated football program. While Price did interviews with Aliquippa greats ranging from Mike Ditka to Ty Law, he also repeatedly cited the work of our own Mike White and footnoted these other current and former PGers: Len Boselovic, Ron CookGerry Dulac,  Rich Emert, M. Ferguson-TinsleyRay FittipaldoChico Harlan, Diana Nelson JonesTorsten OveMarino Parascenzo, Frank ReevesGrace Rishell, Joel Rosenblatt, Jon SilverMilan Simonich, Joe Starkey and Steve Twedt. The book is great exposure for the PG and a testament to the decades of good work our newsroom has done covering Aliquippa, football and Pittsburgh.

  • Liz Bloom’s symphony coverage includes great examples of what might be called, tongue in cheek, off-beat stories. Remember her January 2015 piece on the transportation hassles some musicians face because their antique instruments contain small amounts of ivory? And her March 2015 piece on the symphony marketing survey that showed the average age of most PSO fans was dead? Liz delivered again Sept. 18 with a piece on the ubiquitous standing ovation. As  she put it, “One stands out by not standing at all.” Well, we can all agree that Liz does some standout work.


  • Summer garden large category winnerThe Home & Garden Section is always a treat, and the Sept. 25 section was particularly good thanks to Susan Banks and Pam Panchak, who joined forces for a delightful look at an award-winning Washington County garden.

    A shout-out as well to Katy Buchanan for a layout that made wonderful use of Pam’s photos, including a large shot on the cover of the gardener among her flowers and shots inside of the garden, the gardener and a closeup of one of her many birdhouses.

    Also worth noting: The story was re-published by at least two newspapers, one in Arkansas and another in New York.

    Adding diversity to the section were Kevin Kirkland’s story on a HUGE Marshall home and Courtney Linder’s piece on a tour of rehabilitated homes (Pam shot for this story, too.). All in all, a great section. We hope the readers enjoyed it as much as we did. 

This is not a comprehensive list of the outstanding work our members did in September. There isn’t space for that. We do, however, want to make shout-outs a regular feature of the newsletter and we want to cover as many newsroom departments as possible. So when you notice good work, please let us know.


Many of us have heard the Alfred Friendly Fellows say how welcome they feel in Pittsburgh, and how much better their experiences are compared to peers who land at other cities’ newspapers. That vibe has a lot to do with Greg Victor, the PG’s liaison with the Friendly Fellows and the inaugural — that’s right, inaugural — winner of the Ellen Soeteber Award for Mentorship from Alfred Friendly Press Partners. He received the award — named for a recently deceased editor who supported the program — at a  Sept. 10 event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  A story on the Alfred Friendly Press Partners website noted that Greg accepted the award with his trademark modesty.

Greg makes sure that the Friendly Fellows flourish here professionally and socially. And he keeps tabs on them after they return home and provides periodic updates on some of them. No one is more deserving of this award. Congratulations, Greg.

Monthly Guild raffle

Congratulations to amc_xxlwebLiz Bloom, who won the raffle for a Steelers gift card. This month, we’ll raffle another $50 in AMC  gift cards donated by two Guild members. If you want to take a chance on them, send an email to by Nov. 5. Put “movies” in the subject line.

coldseasonpic.jpgAs we head into cold and flu season, it might be wise to reacquaint ourselves with the sick day policy that is part of the Guild’s contract. Guild members are entitled to eight paid sick days a year. Don’t abuse them, but if you are sick, use them. Coming to work sick is a disservice to your colleagues.

Yes, buyouts have created scheduling problems in some departments. But that is no reason for Guild members to come to work sick or to refrain from using the sick days that are a hard-won benefit. Management created the scheduling problems by insisting on the buyouts, and management can figure out how to cover illness-related personnel shortfalls without denying employees their contractual rights.  If you have any questions, see Mike Fuoco or Jon Silver

Two other notes: Under the contract, management may request a doctor’s excuse for absences of three or more consecutive days. Sick time that goes unused each year will be added to the Guild member’s bank of short-term disability days.



Demands of Point Park University faculty union reasonable, fair


Written By Margaret Davis

f_16_opinionsSince 2004, Point Park University has been at war with its own professors in a legal battle over the creation of a new union contract. Citing the 1980 Supreme Court case National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) v. Yeshiva University, the university stalled negotiations because it considered the teaching staff to be “managerial employees” who were therefore “ineligible for unionization.”

In 2015, after 12 years, Point Park finally dropped its appeals and agreed to open talks with the faculty, who are represented by the Newspaper Guild/Communications Workers of America. However, 140 of our full-time professors are still working without a contract, and progress has been very, very slow.

I was 10 years old when the legal battle began. Twelve years is a long time.

To read more click here!

Guild-Gazette: August 2016



We did some amazing work in August.


  • Lillian Thomas works 24/7, so it’s no surprise that she made it down to Washington Boulevard in time to snap this tremendous photo of the Aug. 28 flood. This photo is worth the proverbial thousand words.

  • No one but Torsten Ove could have written our gripping Aug. 5 obit on mobster Eugene “Nick the Blade” Gesuale (who didn’t earn that sobriquet for his ice skating). Torsten has spent years reporting on the Pittsburgh underworld, and his knowledge, law enforcement contacts and writing skill all combined for an entertaining and memorable sendoff for Gesuale.

    Here are the first three graphs:

    “Nick the Blade” died last week after he suffered a heart attack at a Florida bar while drinking his usual pinot grigio.

    For Eugene Gesuale, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound East Liberty drug dealer for the Mafia once seen on surveillance snorting cocaine with one hand and urinating off a balcony with the other, it was a refined way to go at age 73.

    “I was surprised he was nursing such a girly drink,” said Roger Greenbank, the retired FBI agent who helped send him to federal prison for 28 years during the Mafia crackdown of the 1980s. “Would have thought something more macho would have been his style.”

  • The editor of the Guild-Gazette remembers his days as a West Zone intern sitting near Karen Kane, her right foot tapping impatiently while she bore into some reluctant soul on the other end of the phone. Her intense interviewing produced great details, and years later, she’s still cramming her stories full of them. Consider her Aug. 5 takeout on the Homewood girl whose body was identified after 50 years, her Aug, 25 story on the sad case of juvenile lifer Jeffrey Cristina and her Sept. 1. piece on the murder-suicide involving an abused woman and her estranged husband.

    Karen drove home the human element of these stories with unusually candid and expansive comments from police and prosecutors involved in the cases. Really solid work.

  • Good beat reporters notice patterns and trends. They gather string, knowing they’ll knit something with it one day. They put two and two together and come up with great projects.

    Which brings us to Liz Navratil. Her observations about crimes committed by probation and parole violators led to a yearlong investigation and her series, “Missing Fugitives.” It was a riveting look at a national problem that had escaped national attention.

     The series included great editing, videography, photography, graphics and presentation. Lillian Thomas, Andrew Rush, Ben Howard and Zach Tanner all had a hand in that. 

    This is not a comprehensive list of the outstanding work our members did in August. There isn’t space for that. We do, however, want to make shout-outs a regular feature of the newsletter and we want to cover as many newsroom departments as possible. So when you notice good work, please let us know.


gold-star-2-1A hearty welcome back to Bill Schackner, who has rejoined us after a long convalescence. Bill, if you need a paper, one of us will be happy to go and get it for you.

gold-star-2-1Congratulations to Daniel Moore, who has made the move from associate to permanent staffer. He’s done incredible work on many business-related subjects in his two years here. Keeping him was a no-brainer.

gold-star-2-1Congratulations also to Lacretia Wimbley, who joined us as a summer intern on the desk and is staying on with a second internship. We’re delighted to have you with us.

Monthly Guild raffle

steelers_gift_cardCongratulations to Jill Daly, who won the raffle of a $50 movie gift card donated by two Guild members. This month, with football season upon us, let’s raffle a Steelers gift card. To enter, send an email to by Oct. 5. Put “Steelers” in the subject line.blueline

The Guild continues negotiating a contract for about 130 full-time professors at Point Park University. This is a remarkable opportunity to bolster the size and strength of our Local. While negotiations got off to a slow start, the University in recent talks has shown an increased desire to compromise and get the job done. Below are links to two stories and an editorial about negotiations that appeared in The Globe, the Point Park student-run newspaper. We believe the exposure in The Globe helped to give the University a needed nudge.

Point Park University’s full-time faculty members begin the 2016-17 school year without a contract after making little progress with the university in about 10 negotiating sessions since Mar. 17. Full-time faculty members voted in June 2004 to unionize and join the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh/Communications Workers of America. The university initially refused to bargain with…


Reacting to a summer of stalled negotiations with Point Park University’s administration, full-time faculty members wore stickers Monday in an organized effort to move the collective bargaining process forward for their first union contract. Full-time faculty members wore one of two separate stickers, which were distributed by the union steering committee, throughout the day. The…


The next quarterly Guild membership meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the Hyatt at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Pizza and drinks will be served.blueline2016_guild_sept_credit


No union contract yet for full-time faculty at Point Park



Michael A. Fuoco, president of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, said contract negotiations with representatives from the university have moved slower than he expected.

“The progress has been glacial,” Fuoco said. “We are starting from a blank piece of paper, but our view is that it should not be taking this long and that they’re doing a disservice to the faculty, which has shown them extraordinary patience and good will during these 11 years.”

Click here to read more!