On today's program: Point Park teams up with a Mississippi newsroom to investigate lead in water; how the "felony murder" charge has given thousands life sentences, despite many having nothing to do with the homicide; and a year into a merger, how is Pittsburgh's early music organization keeping baroque alive?
Fellowship awarded to a Mississippi lead investigation
(00:00 — 12:30)
Reporter Erica Hensley of the statewide, online news outlet Mississippi Today is taking home $20,000 to support six months of investigative journalism as part of Point Park University's first-ever Doris O’Donnell Innovations in Investigative Journalism Fellowship through its Center for Media Innovation.
Hensley tells The Confluence's Megan Harris that she plans to examine how the Mississippi Delta, which stretches from New Orleans, La., to Memphis, Tenn., talks about and protects its residents from the threat of lead poisoning. Much of that will include gathering her own data, she says, and spending time with experts already working in the field.
Center director Andrew Conte says Hensley will work with two Point Park journalism classes throughout the year and update them on her progress. She will also come to campus three times, including one event to celebrate her work.
The fellowship was awarded in partnership with the Allegheny Foundation.
Felony-murder is one reason so many Pennsylvanians are serving life sentences
(13:10 — 17:50)
Gov. Tom Wolf has freed more Pennsylvanians sentenced to life in prison than his last four predecessors combined. This uptick is due in part to widespread skepticism of a little-known law that punishes people for murder even if they don’t directly cause a death. 90.5 WESA’s An-Li Herring reports that Pennsylvania's “felony-murder” law holds everyone involved in a crime that results in death liable—even if they were a getaway driver or a lookout who had no idea their accomplice was armed.
One forthcoming bill would repeal mandatory life sentences in most murder cases. And it would make people convicted of felony-murder eligible for release after 25 years.
Bringing early music to the Pittsburgh masses
(17:51 — 38:51)
It’s been a year since Pittsburgh’s two early music ensembles formed one company. Chatham Baroque features instruments like the violin, theorbo and viola da gamba common in the 17th and 18th centuries in performances around the city.
Executive director Donna Goyak says the merger has helped infuse renewed interest in baroque programming and brought in more subscriptions and higher attendance than previous seasons.
Goyak joins players Andrew Fouts, Patricia Halverson and Scott Pauley. Find a full concert schedule here.
90.5 WESA's Avery Keatley contributed to this program.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.