Welcome, interns. The Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh publishes this newsletter to recognize the newsroom’s good work and to keep each other up to date on important newsroom and union matters. We ask you what we ask all Guild members: If you’re really impressed with something a colleague has done, let us know about it so we can include it here. You can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
We did some amazing work in April/May.
Pittsburgh company Alcoa changed the physical, social and economic landscape of Suriname. But how many Pittsburghers knew about the tiny South American nation, what Alcoa had wrought there or how fraught Suriname’s future is?
Probably not many until the eye-opening project in April by Rich Lord, Len Boselovic and Stephanie Strasburg, who spent days there, compiling rich interviews and poignant photos of a country caught between the 19th and 21st centuries.
Warm applause for Rich, Len and Stephanie
Gary Rotstein’s April 3 story about population loss due to an unfortunate demographic trend in the Pittsburgh region — more deaths than births–was interesting on its face.
But he surely drew guffaws with this great line in the fifth graph: “While efforts to attract more people from elsewhere are often discussed by civic officials, their capacity to stop residents already here from dying or coax them into abundant procreation is limited.”
It was a gem of a line that underscores Gary’s commitment to creative storytelling. There’s a lot of that here. We inform, and we entertain.
The sports team did a remarkable job chronicling the Pens’ post season, and there will be more kudos in next month’s letter. Today, let’s applaud one behind-the-scenes story that presaged the trade of the beloved Marc-Andre Fleury. Sam Werner went inside the family’s Quebec home for a May 17 story on how the Fleurys were coping. It was a must read for anyone who follows the Pens and has a soft spot for Marc-Andre.
The PG’s breaking news stories and second-day coverage are simply first rate. Just this consider this trio of stories on A1 May 16:
A piece by Shelly Bradbury and Adam Smeltz on the fatal fire at the Midtown Towers that led with a survivor’s account of escaping the burning building, her hand clasped in a firefighter’s.
Dan Majors’ takeout on the lack of sprinklers in high rises such as Midtown Towers.
Mark Belko’s richly detailed account of the Southwest jet forced to land at the county airport in West Mifflin after running low on fuel [it had been in a holding pattern because of the Wings over Pittsburgh show at Pittsburgh International]. The show included extensive comments from an air show organizer, who insisted the show would have been stopped to allow the passenger jet to make an emergency landing.
Days after the initial fire coverage, our newsrooms weighed in with two more good stories: Adam Smeltz’s piece on the city’s interest in digitizing information about buildings’ fire-suppression systems and Elizabeth Behrman’s profile of fire victim Mary Louise Robinson.
Every day, our photographers and videographers add punch to the stories the PG tells. For proof, check out Stephanie Strasburg’s sad image of a McKeesport youth following a fatal shooting in his neighborhood and Peter Diana’s closeup of the Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson scuffling with the Pens’ Chris Kunitz.
We mine the newspaper and website each month, seeking good work to laud in this space, and there’s never a shortage of material to celebrate.
But we can use your help. When a colleague’s work impresses the heck out of you, let us know. Jon Silver has done so a number of times, and in this issue, he gives shout outs to Shelly Bradbury, Kate Giammarise, Paula Reed Ward, Steph Chambers and Rebecca Droke.
Here’s what he wrote:
“Shelly has been here only 6 weeks and she busted a nice scoop, notoriously tough on the police beat, with an uncredited assist from Paula Reed Ward. Also great photos by Stephanie Strasburg, whose excellent work along with that of Steph Chambers and Shelly show why the infusion of new blood is so important to a newsroom.”
“Finally a terrific, insightful and touching piece by Kate Giammarise, who so cares about the downtrodden (I sit next to her and can personally vouch for how much she cares) and Rebecca Droke, who takes the time with projects like these to really connect viewers to her subjects.”
Jon also liked the coverage of the the Pens fan who photobombed the Capitals’ penalty box April 27, and he suggested we find out how it came about. Sean Gentille wrote the story and Pete Diana took the great photo. But it was a bigger team effort, as Sean explained:
“Once Pete’s photo started making the rounds that night [April 27], Edgar Ramirez reverse-image-searched[April 27], Edgar Ramirez reverse-image-searched it and saw that the kid had already made it his Twitter avatar. The next morning, all I knew was that I wanted to get ahold of him. When I came in, Tyler Batiste (via Edgar) already had his Twitter name. That’s how I contacted him, and things took off from there.”
Daniel Moore demonstrated great range with a pair of stories May 7.
One story not only gave details about a fire that leveled Riverside Inn in Crawford County but gave 200 years of context, explaining that the inn was part of the 19th-century mineral springs phenomenon and important to the community’s economy today.
Dan’s second story was an obit on Jules Melograne, who passed the bar without going to law school but tarnished his career as a DJ with a case-fixing scandal. Dan was a mere lad when Melograne fell from grace in the mid 1990s, but his story was as authoritative as if he’d covered it at the time.