Ornstein: Stop Comparing COVID-19
to Flu—It’s Far Worse

March 14, 2020 |

By Charles Ornstein | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Empty streets in Milan, Italy, caused by partial quarantine. “The silence is eerie,” says photographer Alberto Trentanni. (Alberto Trentanni photo via Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

Editor’s Note: Charles Ornstein is a deputy managing editor at ProPublica, overseeing the Local Reporting Network, which works with local news organizations to produce accountability journalism on issues of importance to their communities.

This story originally appeared at ProPublica. It is reprinted under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license. ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

As a longtime health care reporter, the unfolding coronavirus pandemic represents everything I’ve read about — from the early days of epidemiology to the staggering toll of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic — but had not covered in my lifetime.

And still, I have been caught off guard by the pushback from top elected officials and even some friends and acquaintances who keep comparing it to the flu.

“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu,” President Trump wrote on Twitter on March 9. “It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

By Friday, Trump had declared coronavirus a national emergency, freeing up resources and removing hurdles for a faster response.

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Year-End Reflection: A Chaotic Journey of Love

December 31, 2019 |

By Vickie Babyak | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Tube City Almanac contributor Vickie Babyak has been participating in the Tube City Writers’ workshop, a program of Point Park University that’s being led by freelance photographer Martha Rial. The group meets on alternate Tuesdays at the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation (former Daily News Building).

Vickie has graciously shared this piece, which she wrote as part of her work with the writers’ workshop.

My daughter added me to a Facebook group that focuses on growing in spiritual logic and how to master your reconstruction.

Every day there’s a question to reflect on, and this question was something I wanted to answer:

“When do you feel most like yourself and do you embrace that every day, or is it the last thing you think of and are there certain times of the day or things that trigger this remembrance? It’s weird how little things can trigger pain, and we will succumb to the sadness, but when it comes to triggering ourselves to be our better selves, what do we do? How do we find a path to forgiveness?”

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Reader's Viewpoint: Article on Church's Demolition Was a 'Scam'

April 02, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial, Letters to the Editor

Reader Glen Jackson of McKeesport took issue with the March 21 article, "Wrestling Program Plans to Grow; Abandoned Church to Be Demolished," about plans to demolish the former St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church on Beacon Street.

In comments Jackson posted on Facebook and then emailed to Tube City Almanac, Jackson wrote:

"Is this [article] funded by [McKeesport Mayor Michael] Cherepko? It’s a scam article.

"Part of the deal of [Jim Miller of PWX] buying the lot so cheap was the fact of the church inclusion!

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Commentary: Journalism is Under Financial Attack

February 14, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

 (Tube City Almanac photo)

The following is a commentary. Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

I was asked to speak on Monday at the dedication of the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation. Here's a slightly edited version of what I said:

I think like most things around here, it’s going to be a while before we stop calling this “The Daily News Building,” because the paper was such an important part of our lives for 131 years.

And any institution that lasts 131 years was clearly was doing a lot of things right.

Of course, the name Tube City Center has nothing to do with Tube City Online. We took our name, and this building takes its name, “Tube City,” from McKeesport’s heritage as a place for innovations in the steel industry --- specifically, in the manufacture of steel pipes and tubes, a tradition which is being maintained today by Dura-Bond, and up at CP Industries in Christy Park.

I hope this building’s reopening and rebirth is going to kick off some new innovations in McKeesport --- in digital media, in technology, in communications, and in entrepreneurship.

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Letter to the Editor: 'You're Either In or Out, Sir'

July 22, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial, Letters to the Editor

(Above: A.M. Rosenthal began his career at The New York Times in 1943 and retired from the paper as a columnist in 1999. He discussed his career in a 1993 interview with C-SPAN.)

Reader Tim Martin writes:

Regarding our July 10 story about city council's decision to hire the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh to evaluate the reuse of the Penn-McKee Hotel ---

I really don't understand why Mr. Togyer is covering the Penn-McKee story, and the editor's notes on top and at the end of July 10's story don't take the curse off the circumstance. You're either in or out, sir.

Tim is absolutely right. Reporters should not be involved with the stories they're covering. Period.

The late A.M. Rosenthal (above), city editor, managing editor and executive editor of The New York Times, supposedly had a colorful rule for his reporters:

"If you want to cover the circus, you can't (make love to) the elephants."

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Boss Tweed and Boss Block

June 06, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial, Editorial Cartoons

* --- this cartoon was edited after publication to correct the quote attributed to William M. "Boss" Tweed (1823–1878), who supposedly told the editor of Harper's Weekly, "I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles; my constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures!"

"For the past week, there’s been a feature noticeably absent from the editorial pages of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette — the political cartoons of award-winning cartoonist Rob Rogers.

"Rogers, who has drawn cartoons for the Post-Gazette since 1993, has seen six cartoons killed in a row by Keith Burris, who took over as the newspaper’s editorial director in March when the paper’s editorial board merged with its sister newspaper, the Toledo Blade. The cartoons included criticism of President Trump and of the NFL’s decision to prohibit players from protesting racial injustice during the national anthem."

-- The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 4, 2018

"I can't get into specifics here, but I felt that it was best under the circumstances to take some vacation days until issues with the Post-Gazette are resolved. I can't thank you enough for your support."

--- Rob Rogers, June 6, 2018

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Adam Lynch: Not Soon Forgotten

March 01, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

The following is an editorial expressing an individual’s opinion. Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

About 10 years ago, I started tracking down and interviewing people who had worked in radio in the Mon Valley, including at stations such as WMCK/WIXZ (1360) and WEDO (810).

Early on in the process, I left a message for McKeesport native Adam Lynch, the retired newscaster who accomplished the rare feat of working on-screen at all three of Pittsburgh’s major network TV affiliates —- KDKA-TV, WTAE-TV and WPXI-TV. He was living then in Monroeville.

He called me at work the next day. His voice was unmistakable —- my God, what a voice! —- but he was a little bit suspicious. Who was this weirdo calling to ask him about his early days at WEDO?

Finally, he agreed to meet me for lunch at Rene’s in East McKeesport.

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Gun Violence: How Does it Hit Home? What Can We Do?

February 15, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial, Podcast

On our podcast, "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes," we recently talked about gun violence --- especially the emotional impact it has had on the Mon-Yough area --- and asked if there's anything we can do about it.

In 2017, there were 109 homicides in 2017. Nearly three dozen of them were in the Mon Valley in communities such as McKeesport, Swissvale and Turtle Creek, but practically no community of any size was unscathed --- and virtually all of the homicides were the result of shootings.

Our guests were Vanessa Mayers-Snyder, a community engagement & mediation specialist for the Center for Victims, and Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFire PA.

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Commentary: 'Invent Penn State' Rises to the Challenge

February 08, 2018 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

Opinions expressed in editorials and commentaries are those of their authors, and are not those of Tube City Community Media Inc., its board of directors, volunteers, contributors or donors. Responsible replies are welcome.

Jacqueline Edmondson is chancellor and chief academic officer of Penn State Greater Allegheny.

“McKeesport Rising” is an ambitious project intended to address urban blight, joblessness, and morale in the city. Announced by Mayor Michael Cherepko in January 2018, this project invests in the city and will transform the landscape and opportunities for citizens in the region.

Similar efforts are underway in Braddock, Duquesne, and other Mon Valley communities. Penn State Greater Allegheny is playing a role in these important efforts by leveraging an Invent Penn State grant to address the educational and economic needs of the region.

Penn State Greater Allegheny is proud of its roots in McKeesport. The campus began in the 1930s as a center to develop workforce and labor education in the region.

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Thank You, McKeesport and Mon-Yough Area

January 22, 2018 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Commentary-Editorial

I want to thank, publicly, the following people, organizations and businesses who contributed to our year-end fund drive. If I missed anyone, I apologize. (UPDATED: I realize I'd missed any donations made online. The list is now updated.)

  • Paul E. Bekavac Funeral Home, Elizabeth
  • Tom Carter
  • E.R. Crawford Estate Trust Fund
  • Robert Dacey
  • Mary Ellen Driver
  • E.C. Finney Funeral Home, Glassport
  • I.M. Finney Funeral Home, Dravosburg
  • S.M. Finney Funeral Home, Clairton
  • Sharyn H. Fletcher
  • Jo Ann Hartos
  • Judith E. Hornfeck
  • Vicki Johnston
  • Janet Kulis
  • Doris T. Lynch
  • Joan A. Mayhue
  • Harry R. Miller
  • Ruth Ann Molloy
  • Mortuary Society Inc., Clairton
  • Rose M. Sakas
  • John Stevens
  • Young Funeral Home, Butler, Pa.
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