Pittsburgh Pride

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette claims to be "One of America's Great Newspapers," but practice and theory haven't aligned in a long time. It's a good paper, with some excellent writers, but it reeks of Pittsburgh insecurity. The hometown boosterism just wears me out.

Until today. In my home-delivered Final Edition this morning, I read a long wire service-produced feature about Rick Rich Skrenta, the Mt. Lebanon native who produced the very first computer virus as a Lebo HS student 25 years ago. (One of America's Great Newspapers ran its story only six weeks after Pittsblog covered the same item.)

What is really notable in the print edition, however, is that the P-G apparently did not edit the copy to highlight Rick's Rich's Pittsburgh connection. "Mt. Lebanon Senior High School" is included, but no reference to "Pittsburgh native" or "Mt. Lebanon native" Rick Rich Skrenta. There is none of the "local boy makes good" highlighting that you always read, for example, when "Greensburg native Rocco Mediate" (his full, legal name, I think) plays golf somewhere.

Is this progress? Am I reading news-for-the-sake-of-news rather than news-of-the-homeboy? Or were the P-G's business editors asleep at the switch?

I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. Imagine my disappointment when I looked up the on-line version. The copy is still free of any Pittsburgh inflection, but the hed has been changed: "Viruses started as prank for teen in Mt. Lebanon".


6 Responses to "Pittsburgh Pride"

Rich said... 9/01/2007 12:04 PM

Maybe you want to switch to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. A reporter there spotted the wire story going by and decided to do a little work and add the local color... She called me up, even interviewed one of my buddies, and added some quotes and new material to the story.

Check it out:


-- Rich

Mike Madison said... 9/01/2007 12:18 PM

I did see the Trib story, which is one of the rare times in my experience that the Trib shows better journalistic skills than the P-G. Despite a few fine writers of its own, though, the Trib runs a clear second (or more) to the P-G in the local print MSM sweepstakes. As bad as the P-G's new website is, the Trib's site is far, far worse.

I wrote about the future of Pgh media, here.

Bram Reichbaum said... 9/01/2007 12:37 PM

Maybe they didn't boosterize the story because because computer viruses are, you know, not a good thing. You never hear about "Pittsburgh native and grafiti artist Mook."

Anonymous said... 9/02/2007 8:06 PM

Hey Rich -- The online version of the Trib's story simply lifts the quotes and narrative from the AP story and adds a few other small items. Was the story virally replicating itself?

Mark Rauterkus said... 9/02/2007 8:15 PM

I've had a long-running feud with the MSM in Pittsburgh -- generally. I give them props when they do well. I knock them when they get it wrong. This is done online and back channel too.

A search on The Trib -- for instance -- still does NOT show me as a candidate for controller. Didn't even for mayor for the week that my name was in before the switch either. Zippo. Go figure.

Anyway -- one sucks worse than the other.

Neither help the region a bit.

We need watchdogs.

I'm a journalism grad!

So, we need to make our own media. We need to be the watchdogs with the blogs. We need to scoop -- and hold them accountable.

The Fourth Estate is very important to our democracy. Now, so too, is the internet. It is CRITICAL in Pittsburgh.

Mark Rauterkus said... 9/02/2007 8:17 PM

Bram may have wanted to mention "graffiti vandals" and Pgh, and Pgh natives. They do get coverage, some.

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About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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