Director of Center for Media Innovation, Andrew Conte releases new novel about local newspaper closure

Written By Cassandra Harris, Staff Writer

Released in October, Andrew Conte published his book “Death of the Daily News” through The University of Pittsburgh Press. He explained that the purpose for writing the book was to move the conversation forward when it came to figuring out the future of local journalism. 

“The question was, you know, what happens after a newspaper closes?” Conte, author and director of the Center for Media Innovation, said. “I mean one, people start trying to figure out the news on their own.”  

Conte explained that the skull on the cover was to depict the pain of a community when it lost its newspaper, The Daily News.  

“The disruption that has hit the media business,” he said. “It’s been really painful, but the book also tells a hopeful story of how we can figure it out going forward. I think that the big takeaway is that people, even after a newspaper closes, people still want news and information.” 

According to the Post Gazette, The Daily News closed in McKeesport when Trib Total Media could not find anyone to purchase the paper. Before people began building their own news outlet, they were turning to less reliable internet sources Conte said. 

“They do it by just talking to other people and they also do it by going to social media,” Conte said. “That can be a messy process because you get some good information, but it’s mixed in with stuff that gets like a game of telephone.” 

Without The Daily News, it became more difficult for the citizens to obtain accurate local news. Conte talks about some of the replacements that people began to create and rely on after The Daily News disappeared. 

“The Mon Valley Independent is a newspaper that’s been based in Monessen, and they’ve opened a Bureau in McKeesport,” Conte said. “And there was a citizen website there called Tube City Almanac, and they continue to grow and do more things.” 

He explains that good came out of his research for the book. As the director of the Center for Media Innovation, he wanted to provide an opportunity to Point Park students when it came to supporting local news. 

“One of the immediate outcomes has been that we started a new pilot project with Trib Total Media, where we’re using student content,” Conte said. “So student stories are going into a new hyperlocal downtown news and we’re paying students 20 dollars a story at this point.” 

Conte found his information for the book through people who studied the issue in the past but also through a lot of people who live in the community.  

“I spent a lot of time speaking with community leaders there,” Conte said. “Like the mayor, the state senator, the state representative, a woman who runs a diner, and the fire chief. Then I also did some focus groups just with ordinary people in the community. The book is the result of all of those conversations. “ 

It took him five years to finish it. The book originated from the work Conte did as a doctoral student, it’s 182 pages long. “Death of the Daily News” is his fourth book to be published and another one of his books titled the “Color of Sundays” is being optioned by Netflix to possibly be produced as a movie.