The Post-Gazette: Where Praise is Due

After a couple of weeks away, I spent the better part of a day over the weekend catching up on what happened in Pittsburgh while I was gone, and given that I am just that old, I did it using primitive tools: I read two weeks' worth of the Post-Gazette, on paper.

I didn't learn a lot, which is no doubt due to the fact that not much happened in Pittsburgh over the last two weeks. I'll have a post or two to come on The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, or The Embarrassments of Pittsburgh Leadership, but on the whole, as Forrest Gump might have said, Pittsburgh is as Pittsburgh does. Sean Hamill and the New York Times wrote up yet another Pittsburgh-is-a-pretty-nice-place piece that could have been published six months or a year ago.

Some of what I didn't learn, I worried, had to do with the ever-dwindling lack of local content in the newspaper itself. So I was enormously and pleasantly surprised to read not just one but two pieces of first-rate PG journalism in the last couple of days.

First, the Post-Gazette has once again unleashed ace investigative reporters Patricia Sabatini and Len Boselovic on Mylan, this time focusing on what may be dangerous and illegal manufacturing practices at the generic drug maker. The initial story appeared on Sunday; that story had an immediate impact in Washington DC. Followup reporting alone should justify the cost of a subscription over the next several weeks.

Second, PG vet Mackenzie Carpenter wrote a delightful feature yesterday on the independent presses that are turning Pittsburgh into a literary "mecca," which the Post-Gazette indulged by placing it, and some great art, on the front page. This is exactly the sort of coverage of an under-publicized but important local community that the PG and other "traditional" media can do far better than volunteer/citizen media can. Reading it yesterday morning made my whole day brighter.

The story isn't immune to the little quibbles that come with any big feature. The story focused on the city, but there are independent presses out in the suburbs, too, such as Mt. Lebanon's Paper Street Press. And I was tantalized by this phrase -- "Despite the damage wreaked on the printed word by the Internet,...." I'm guessing that there was more to that part of the story, but it was lost in editing. As this Times story notes, the Internet is far from the only cause of current trouble in publishing paradise.

Still, that's two big PG wins that welcomed me back, so thanks! But on to the next. Soon enough, thousands of activists will be descending on Pittsburgh in a major conference to debate the future of the world, and then in September, the G20 will be here. (The major conference, of course, is NetRoots Nation.) And there is that business about The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight yet to come, and more about IntoPittsburgh, a return to the Manifesto for a New Pittsburgh, and some news about entrepreneurship. Did I mention that Denzel may be coming to town? The film business here is limping, but it has a heartbeat, and that has to be a good thing.

Too bad we can't say the same thing about the Pirates.


2 Responses to "The Post-Gazette: Where Praise is Due"

Rich W said... 7/30/2009 10:45 AM

Welcome back, but afraid that last line is erroneous. The Pirates are now significantly better than when you left. As with all else, it's a bigger picture than just what's reported in the newspaper ;-)

Anonymous said... 7/30/2009 9:39 PM

Re: the current state of newspaper land have you noticed how the content in the NYT has dropped off as well over the past couple of years? The Tines still has the most comprehensive national/international coverage among U.S. papers by far but every Sunday AM, as I retrieve it from the driveway, I think that "this is where the P-G was 15 years ago."

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

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