In the spring of 2016, after a dozen years in print and digital journalism, I was fortunate to start reporting radio stories at 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station. In August 2016, I joined the station full-time.
I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for around 3 years now, and have been continually amazed at how fast the city is changing—every other day, it seems, some developer announces a new residential project or office building or retail/restaurant space (or, frequently, a mixed-use project combining all of the above).
Over the past few months, I’ve been reporting on Cameron McLay, chief of police for Pittsburgh, and his quest to turn the long-troubled bureau into a cutting-edge, community-focused police department. Topics covered: brutality, police-minority relations, blackjacks, high-speed chases, community policing, corruption, a Twitter scandal, the DOJ consent decree, hiring, pay, and the union. Oh, and that time a camera caught a Pittsburgh sergeant beating the hell out of a teenager outside of Heinz Field.
You can read my profile of McLay in the May issue of Pittsburgh Magazine.
The architecture and urban planning profession has a major problem when it comes to workforce—in general, it is lily white. The Heinz Endowments and School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon are hoping to diversify Pittsburgh’s planning community by recruiting some of the best and brightest minority students in America to come to the city for UDream, an intensive 18-week program that places them at top architecture and urban design firms. I wrote about UDream for my April column in Pittsburgh Magazine.
For the new issue of MIT Technology Review, I got the chance to examine a question that I’ve long wondered about: When it comes to the tech sector, can a smaller city like Pittsburgh actually play on the same level as San Francisco?
I’ve long been interested in the Future of Media—it’s in caps because it is an Important Issue Worth Pondering—so I was happy to work on this report about how media organizations are creating new types of journalism through virtual reality. The Knight Foundation generously funded the project, which was released at the StoryNEXT conference in Tribeca on October 23, 2015.
I spent around a year hanging out with Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat for Colorado, for the profile that’s now out in the May issue of 5280 Magazine. Bennet’s had a pretty interesting career—before he became a senator, he went to Yale Law, worked in business for billionaire Phil Anschutz, served as chief of staff for then-mayor John Hickenlooper, and then was superintendent of Denver Public Schools. In my time with him, there was one major conclusion to be drawn: He’s a smart, pragmatic guy who is slamming up against the the limits of Congress.
Out in the May issue of Pittsburgh Magazine: My profile of Ray Gastil, the city’s new planning director, who has a big vision for the future of Pittsburgh. We biked 25 miles around the city, covering downtown, Mount Washington, the South Side, Hazelwood, Oakland, and the Hill, so I could see neighborhoods through his eyes, and understand where Pittsburgh has been and where we’re headed.
This was a fun one: I wrote an essay for Outside about how my wife and I drove 10,000 miles around the country to scout out a new city to live in—and chose Pittsburgh. I think the Pathfinder looks good in front of the Tetons (although the black bag on top looks more like a bunch of Heftys than a Thule).