Veteran investigative reporter Andrew Conte will lead Point Park University’s new journalism facility, school officials announced Wednesday.
The Center for Media Innovation was built with a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation, which was created by late Trib owner Richard Mellon Scaife. Trib Total Media is also a sponsor of the media center.
“People want information more than ever before,” Conte said. “One of the big challenges is sustaining it and paying for it. And so we'll be working on innovations at the center that help journalists tell their stories better, (and) tell them in a sustainable way.”
The 4,000-square-foot center at Wood Street and Third Avenue will feature television and radio broadcast studios, a photo studio and a multimedia newsroom, all available as event space for galleries and speaker events.
Point Park President Paul Hennigan said finding a working journalist to kick-start those offerings was key.
“The media industry continues to rapidly evolve in the digital age, and it’s critical the center be led by someone who has lived professionally in that world,” Hennigan said.
The center will help maintain the relevancy of journalists in a time when many media outlets are struggling or changing formats, Conte said. He's no stranger to that reality; Trib Total Media laid off 153 employees at the close of 2015 and gave buyout packages to 68 more.
“There is a lot of disruption going on, but there's also a need to remind people of the strong value of what journalists do: holding people accountable, speaking up for those without a voice,” Conte said.
Trib Editor Frank Craig praised Conte and emphasized the newspaper's continued role in the development of future journalists. Conte will remain a regular contributor, "writing a monthly column on media issues and working on special investigative projects," Craig said.
Conte, who joined the Trib in 2001, said he plans to invite other journalists to share their stories as well.
“Have them talk about what they're doing," he said. "Have them talk about the challenges that the industry is facing but also talk about some of the things they are doing to innovate and find new ways to keep the future of journalism alive."
Conte has been a part-time professor with Point Park for 10 years and served as director of the Point Park News Service. He holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Dickinson College and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.