Tube City Almanac

December 10, 2009

We Want You

Category: Announcements || By

There's a hell of a lot of "writing" on the Internet, but there's not much "reporting."

"Writing" just requires having an opinion, and it doesn't have to be informed by facts. "Reporting" requires you to actually put on shoes and leave the house (or at least pick up a phone) and talk to people.

Sometimes, that's not fun. For instance, I could have had tickets to the Duquesne-Pitt men's basketball game last week --- a game where the Dukes almost upset the Panthers for the first time since the pope was an altar boy.

Instead, I got to cover city council and the Festival of Trees. I listened to the game go into double overtime sitting in the car, in the rain in Renziehausen Park.

. . .

But it's also rewarding, especially if you're a nebby person, because being a reporter (much like being a cop) gives you permission to butt into other people's business.

Everyone has a story to tell. Some of them are dumb, sure, but a lot of them are inspiring or sad or infuriating or just plain interesting.

And there are a lot of good stories in the McKeesport area --- many of them going untold.

For starters, name another city of McKeesport's size that has its own library system, symphony orchestra, community park, marina, public and Catholic high schools, and a branch campus of a Big Ten research university. It doesn't exist.

. . .

Now, maybe I've been drinking Mayor Jim Brewster's Kool-Aid (and some people have accused me of that) but I felt this way long before he was elected to office. The whole purpose of founding Tube City Online back in 1995 was to present an alternative viewpoint of the McKeesport area and counteract some of the negativity on the Internet and in the news media.

Unfortunately, the need is only becoming greater all the time. Based on some of the things written about McKeesporters, you'd think we were all stupid, violent, lazy, burned-out reprobates and drug fiends (when in my case, that's mostly untrue).

It's had an effect. I was somewhere recently when someone told me their child had graduated from McKeesport schools and gone onto a major, well-respected university. "Of course, that doesn't happen any more," she said.

"I went to school in McKeesport," I said, "and I went to a major, well-respected university." She looked at me like I had just grown another head.

. . .

If you live or work in McKeesport, Port Vue, Liberty, White Oak, Dravosburg, as well as North Versailles and West Mifflin, things like that ought to make you mad.

It's driving down the value of your home or business and it's turning you into a second-class citizen.

You can pout and be ashamed that you're from the McKeesport area, or you can help do something about it. And you might make a few bucks in the process.

. . .

Starting in January 2010, Tube City Community Media Inc. (the non-profit corporation that now holds Tube City Online) will be actively looking for freelance reporters.

You do not have to be from McKeesport or the neighboring communities! But you do need a legitimate interest in writing about this fascinating, frustrating community and its history.

We also will be paying for work, because we're filthy capitalist pigs. No, it won't be very much (see the "filthy capitalist" part), but it will be something, depending on how much money we can raise from advertising and donations.

And don't worry, we will tell you up-front, in writing, how much we'll pay for each story before you start working.

Prior writing experience is useful --- but this is also a good opportunity to get some experience. The most important qualities needed are dependability, accuracy and honesty.

There are some restrictions --- people who want to run for public office are going to be ruled out, for instance --- but we'll handle them on a case-by-case basis.
. . .

Here are the things we want to cover in the coming year. Ultimately we'd like one or two reliable people to focus on each of these areas, writing one or two stories every month.

Again, you don't have to be a great writer. I can help you with that. But you do have to be accurate, honest and reliable, and interested in one of the following areas:

  • Education (at minimum, the writer should plan to attend McKeesport Area school board meetings, but more importantly, we want profiles of teachers, students and projects they're working on at all city schools and Penn State)

  • Arts and Culture (review and preview McKeesport Little Theater shows, McKeesport Symphony Pops, concerts at the Palisades and Renziehausen Park, and any other appropriate live entertainment)

  • Businesses (new businesses, restaurant reviews, profiles of existing businesses)

  • Sports and Recreation (focus on sports not usually covered by the newspapers, TV and radio, including school teams and "sandlot" games)

So, do you want to do something to help your community, put a couple of bucks in your pocket and get to neb-nose into other people's business?

Then fill out the application and email it to me.

We may fall on our faces, but if we all don't pull together and try this, who else will?

Your Comments are Welcome!

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