Racine Avenue resident Andrew Conte, a former investigative reporter for the Tribune Review, heads Point Park University’s new Center for Media Innovation, a state-of-the-art facility that helps communications students develop sustainable journalism skills. Conte has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and recently published his third book, All About Roberto Clemente, a children’s title on the late, great Pirates outfielder.
What challenges face today’s young journalists? Journalists always have focused on creating engaging and impactful content, but now they must also think about how to sell that information. We are training students at Point Park University to tell meaningful stories and to be good at business. That’s a huge change.
What skills will future journalists need? Students used to aspire to work for a media publication or television station; now they have to think about how they can become their own publishing or broadcasting outlet. We work a lot on traditional skills for journalists, and we mix that with new technologies and strategies for finding and building audiences.
What is the purpose of Point Park’s Center for Media Innovation? We bring together various forms of storytelling—written word, video, audio, photography and multimedia—into one place. Modern journalists might specialize in one of those areas, but they need to be familiar with them all. Also, the Center gives us a space for community events and lectures. I want to expose our students to as many interesting topics and people as possible.
What role does print have in the mix of media platforms? Publishers worried a few years ago that all books would give way to electronic formats, but it turns out that most people still want to read old-fashioned printed books. I think it was a bit of a revelation: Electronic media have a growing role, but the printed page still has its place.
Why did you write a book on Roberto Clemente for children? His story transcends the Pirates and baseball. He truly was a pioneer for Latinos, both on the field and off. It’s an emotional, inspiring story. We were lucky to have much of that story play out in Pittsburgh.
What publications do you read? I still lean toward the traditional outlets. I read the New York Times daily for its comprehensive coverage of the world. I am impressed with how the Washington Post is pivoting to the digital age. I also check out Buzzfeed to see what my kids are reading.