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.”
Sports 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 Cook, Gerry Dulac, Rich Emert, M. Ferguson-Tinsley, Ray Fittipaldo, Chico Harlan, Diana Nelson Jones, Torsten Ove, Marino Parascenzo, Frank Reeves, Grace Rishell, Joel Rosenblatt, Jon Silver, Milan 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.
The 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.
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 Liz 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 firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 5. Put “movies” in the subject line.
As 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.