Posts tagged ‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’

Gettysburg: A Media Blitz on the 150th Anniversary

310699_10151369402601500_1451090511_nThis week is a good time to be a history buff, specifically one with an interest in the Civil War. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is in full swing. Even if I didn’t know the dates—the battle raged July 1, 2, and 3, 1863—it would be obvious from a quick scan of my Twitter feed, where many of the people I follow are linking to some really interesting stories.

I’m a newbie, I’ll admit it. I didn’t get interested in the battle until August 2012, when I attended the Penn State Alumni Association’s Civil War Study Tour, which toured Gettysburg for three days. I figured plenty of other media outlets would be writing about the battle when the anniversary came, so for my magazine story, I focused on the people who are regulars on the tour. I wanted to know why they keep returning to Gettysburg and what they could possibly still be learning about it after all this time, and I wrote a piece for our May/June issue called “The Visitors.” You can download a PDF of my story by clicking here.

Among the Gettysburg pieces I’ve read over the weekend, these stand out:

My former employer and hometown newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has published an interactive piece, “Gettysburg: Panic in Pittsburgh, Then a Nation Saved,” that has a lot of the characteristics of the New York Times’ Snowfall feature. This will take a substantial amount of time, but it’s worth it.

Donald Gilliand of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg also focused on why people keep returning to Gettysburg—but he took a different approach than I did. His piece focuses on the town, and it contains this great line, which one of my former students, Anna Orso, quoted on Twitter: “Gettysburg still resonates with Americans—despite, and sometimes because of, its roadside tackiness.” That pulled me in, and it was worth it.

My Centre Daily Times this morning featured this piece about the “Centre County Regiment,” the 148th Pennsylvania, that I’ve heard some people call the Penn State regiment (although it really wasn’t, of course). The 148th fought in The Wheatfield, one of the best-known and bloody parts of the three-day battle. For more about Penn Staters and Gettysburg, this piece by Matthew Swayne, a writer/editor at Penn State, tells the story of how Evan Pugh was trying to keep the school alive at the same time the soldiers were fighting for the union.

I also really enjoyed this Washington Post profile of William A. Frassanito, a historian who focuses on the photos of Gettysburg, and who is a true character. (Jim Roberts of Reuters (@nycjim) linked the story this morning; he’s got a wide range of interests and is a great person to follow on Twitter if you’re similarly inclined.)

If you’ve come across any others, please let us know in the comments. My reading list is long, but I’ve always got room for another Gettysburg story.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

June 30, 2013 at 5:11 pm 1 comment

Alumni Ask Questions; President Erickson Answers

Rodney Erickson and moderator Patty Satalia took questions from Pittsburgh-area Penn State alumni for about 90 minutes on Tuesday night.

Rodney Erickson promised “openness and communication.” He promised them twice, in fact, during his opening statement Wednesday night at a town hall meeting with alumni in Pittsburgh. He called those values his “guiding principles and watchwords,” ones he learned growing up on a farm in Wisconsin, and he said they’ve served him well during his career in higher education, the past 34 years at Penn State and the past nine weeks as the University’s president.

“I know there’s a perception that we at Penn State have not always done as well as we could to be open, to respond to questions and to be as transparent as possible with all of our constituencies—alumni, faculty, staff, our students, and the public and the media who report on our great university,” he said. “We will do better in the future based on those guiding principles of openness and communication that I just stated. I’m here this evening to begin to demonstrate these values.”

He promised, also, to listen to whatever the more than 600 alumni who attended the town hall had to say about the Sandusky scandal and its aftermath. (And anything else.) Those alumni took Erickson at his word. They were polite, but they didn’t hold back.

The first speaker introduced herself by saying that she’d brought her baby daughter and son home from the hospital in Penn State sleepers “because (more…)

January 12, 2012 at 9:40 am 4 comments

More Recommended Reading: Preliminary Hearing

If you’re trying to get a handle on the last-minute announcement that Jerry Sandusky ’66, ’71g would waive his preliminary hearing, you’re not alone. I’ve spent part of the afternoon monitoring Twitter and checking out various news organizations’ coverage, and here’s what’s caught my eye:

Adam Smeltz ’05 of StateCollege.com provides a good synopsis here, and the New York Times, which obviously has a broader audience, does something similar here on its college sports blog, The Quad. This MSNBC video, featuring investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, is also good, although the studio host mangles the pronunciation of Bellefonte.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talked to a couple of defense lawyers who are baffled by the strategy of Sandusky’s lawyer, Joe Amendola ’70. ESPN’s Lester Munson, a lawyer and journalist, gets into more of the details here, with everything from how the preliminary hearing can benefit the defense to whether the defense will eventually request a trial by judge, not jury. There’s a video of Bob Ley speaking with legal analyst Roger Cossack at the same link.

Dan Wetzel, a columnist for Yahoo Sports who has weighed in early and often on the scandal, has what might be one of the first opinion pieces published; he says that Sandusky’s late decision “put the accusers through the wringer.”

And while I don’t love everything that Deadspin does, this piece on the morning’s events is a really good read.

Please let us know in the comments if you’ve found other worthwhile stories.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

December 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm 4 comments

It’s Always Creamery Weather — But Especially Right Now

I’m the type of guy who will eat Creamery ice cream outside in late January—I just love it that much. But days like today, when it’s supposed to be 98 in University Park, certainly seem like more ideal ice cream weather. So the timing was perfect this week for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette food writer Rebecca Sodergren to share her personal connection to the Berkey Creamery, as well as some facts even I didn’t know. Like a lot of alumni, I always wondered why the Creamery didn’t make its ice cream more readily available outside State College; the very good reason, as it turns out, is that it doesn’t want to compete with its own graduates.

The piece also features the official Creamery recipe modified for home use. As Sodergren writes, “I didn’t think it tasted exactly like the Creamery’s. But it sure is good.” I imagine I won’t be the only one sampling the real stuff this weekend.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

July 22, 2011 at 8:55 am 1 comment

A Pivotal Season for Nittany Lion Hoops

The Penn State men’s basketball team held its annual media day Monday afternoon, suiting up for interviews and pictures before running through an open practice. As you’d expect, the mood was good: These preseason gatherings tend to be optimistic, with players and coaches focused on the season’s potential and a schedule loaded with winnable games. But even by those standards, these Nittany Lions seem like an especially positive and confident bunch. That’s encouraging, and perhaps a little surprising.

Last season, (more…)

October 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm Leave a comment

Vote for the Women’s Volleyball Team


One of the highlights of the Pittsburgh social scene is the annual Dapper Dan Dinner, which raises money for youth sports leagues through a dinner honoring Western Pennsylvania’s top sports figures. Among this year’s nominees for Sportswomen of the Year: the Penn State women’s volleyball team, which won its third consecutive NCAA championship in December.

The winner is chosen by a vote, so you can do your part by clicking here.

I’ve got a personal attachment to this. Dapper Dan is the charity arm of my hometown Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where I worked from 1994-2003, and while I always thought the event was great, it bugged me that the evening’s big award was Sportsman of the year. I felt like outstanding women athletes didn’t have much of a chance, and, well, I made a bit of a stink about it.

One year, I wrote a column suggesting that the committee had goofed in not choosing Suzie McConnell-Serio ’88, who had led the Cleveland Rockers on a run in the WNBA playoffs, as the winner. (I hope in making the case, I wasn’t too harsh on the winner: Joe Paterno.) One thing led to another, and since 1999, Dapper Dan has honored both a Sportsman and a Sportswoman of the Year.  That’s a pretty small legacy, sure, but it’s one I’m proud of.

Here’s the volleyball team’s competition: Meghan Klingenberg, a Pittsburgh native who played for the 2009 NCAA women’s soccer champions; Pitt associate athletic director Carol Sprague, who has presided over the rise of the school’s women’s basketball team; and McConnell-Serio, now coach of the rapidly improving Duquesne women’s basketball team.

That’s an impressive list, but I don’t see anyone else with three consecutive NCAA titles.

Vote soon! Voting ends Jan. 25.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

January 15, 2010 at 4:48 pm Leave a comment

More Ink for ‘No. 4 Street of Our Lady’

Today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a terrific story about No 4 Street of Our Lady, the Holocaust-related film made by Penn State College of Communication faculty members Barbara Bird, Judy Maltz, and Richie Sherman. A very good read.

Tina Hay, editor

November 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm Leave a comment

Anniversary of Betsy Aardsma’s death drawing notice

With the 40th anniversary of the murder in the stacks at Pattee Library approaching, you can expect to see a lot of stories about the still-unsolved case and the victim, Betsy Aardsma. Journalists often use anniversaries as news pegs for stories; that’s what we did in our September/October issue, in which we published a story about the murder investigation and Sasha Skucek ’99, ’07g, an English lecturer and journalist who has been looking into the case.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette weighed in Sunday with this story, in which investigators talk about the crime and how it still resonates after so much time. Said Centre County district attorney Michael Madeira, “It sounds like an urban legend, except it’s real.”

The anniversary is Nov. 28.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

October 26, 2009 at 9:50 am 6 comments

A Plug for Penn State’s Cooperative Extension

droke0724_garden02.3_500Among the many things I’ve learned about the University since moving back to State College a few years ago is the existence — and impressive reach — of Penn State’s Cooperative Extension offices. The outreach arm of the College of Ag Sciences does great work in every corner of Pennsylvania, but still flies a bit under the radar. Thankfully, folks in the Pittsburgh area know a bit more about Cooperative Extension after this informative piece ran the other day in the Post-Gazette. It’s a great introduction to the work of the “master gardeners” who stay busy helping make the state (and those of us who call it home) literally and figuratively greener.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

August 5, 2009 at 2:41 pm Leave a comment

Wildflowers at Shaver’s Creek

I hadn’t been out to Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center in three or four years, and suddenly I’ve been there twice in one week. Last Wednesday morning I went on the last Migration Morning Bird Walk of the season, and yesterday I went back out with a couple of friends for a wildflower walk led by Shaver’s Creek program director Eric Burkhart ’02g.

Eric Burkhart with a stalk of the very invasive garlic mustard plant.

Eric Burkhart with a stalk of the very invasive garlic mustard plant.

Eric has a master’s in horticulture from Penn State and knows not only the scientific stuff about various plants, but the medicinal roles, the folklore, the whole bit. I learned a ton of stuff from him in just one hour of strolling through the woods—stuff I’ll probably forget in a week, but oh well.

In the photo at left, Eric is holding a stalk of an extremely invasive plant called garlic mustard. If you live in Pennsylvania, there’s a good chance you’ve got this in your backyard right now—and, if so, you might want to go out and pull it all up soon, before it goes to seed. It’s a non-native plant that out-competes many other plants and will pretty much take over Pennsylvania’s forests if given the chance. A single garlic mustard plant, according to Eric, can produce 10,000 to 15,000 seeds. Yowza.

DSC_7606 sm purple trillium

Purple trillium, also called "stinking Benjamin."

The purple flower he’s showing in this second photo is purple trillium, also called “stinking Benjamin” (I have no idea why). It’s one that the Shaver’s Creek folks have actually planted in the woods, in hopes that it will take hold. Eric has a contact in the Johnstown area, where there’s a lot of strip mining; the friend tries to save plants like this one from the bulldozers and get them to Eric. Interestingly, trillium is really hard to grow from seed—it takes seven years—so you’re not likely to find it in a greenhouse. It’s just too much work.

Wild geranium, or wood geranium. You can buy this at garden stores.

Wild geranium, or wood geranium. You can buy this at garden stores.

In the same area as the purple trillium, Eric showed us—and told us the stories behind—a bunch of other wild plants, including true solomon seal, black cohosh, blue cohosh, and Pennsylvania cress, or winter cress. Then we’d amble on for about 10 yards, and stop, and Eric would show us five or six more plants: Canada mayflower, may apple, false sarsparilla, jack-in-the-pulpit, partridgeberry. Here’s a photo of a wild geranium, also called wood geranium or crane’s bill. Lots of people buy this at greenhouses to plant in their yards.

I learned that there’s a plant that looks like poison ivy but isn’t—it’s box elder, and you can tell the two plants apart by the fact that poison ivy has alternate leaves and box elder has opposite leaves. I learned that “cohosh” is an Algonquin name meaning “women’s medicine.” I got to sniff onion grass (nice) and skunk cabbage (not so nice).

At some point I’d like to learn more about Eric’s work—he’s leading a project to encourage Pennsylvania farmers and property owners to grow ginseng commercially. He might make for a good story for The Penn Stater sometime. In the meantime you can read more about that aspect of his work in stories from Research/Penn State and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Tina Hay, editor

May 11, 2009 at 10:03 am 1 comment

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