Sy Snyder of PoliticsPA.com gave me a thumbs up today. Thanks, Sy!
"Tracie Mauriello of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has been dominating the Pennsylvania Twitter-sphere throughout the “Bonusgate” trials, gaining scores of new followers, including fellow journalists and elected officials. Heck, even Corbett said he followed Twitter for updates on his own case. When the Veon verdict unexpectedly arrived Monday night, many Pennsylvania politicos tuned into Twitter, not TV, for the latest results, a signal of how important the social-media service has become to many in the last year."
Journalism heroes I know. (A list in progress)
1.) Sadie Gurman, PIttsburgh Post-Gazette -- Energetic young journalist who has done amazing things already. She is as talented as she is dedicated to her craft. She was arrested in the course of getting a story at the G-20
2.) John Micek, Allentown Morning Call -- Witty blogger who provides insightful political analysis off the cuff.
3.) Cara Rubinsky, Associated Press -- An investigation she helped conduct while still a college student got a wrongly convicted man exonerated
4.) Dennis Roddy, Post-Gazette -- Incredible storyteller and interviewer who also is a creative videographer and a witty blogger. He will go to any length for a story. He is also the biggest pain in the butt I know.
5.) Jon Schmitz, Post-Gazette -- A methodical, professional, even-handed reporter and editor who knows his way around public records.
6.) Jonathan Silver, Post-Gazette -- A real digger.
The best news photogs I know:
1.) Marshall Gorby, Springfield News-Sun
2.) Michael Henninger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
4.) Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
4.) Josalee Thrift, Waterbury Republican-American
There is an angel hanging from the rearview mirror of my car. Tasteful, it is not. It's the kind of kitch that my grandmother would have on the shelf above her kitchen sink. My plastic-bead-and-safety-pin angel is there for protection -- not for my protection but yours. It reminds me to be nice to those around me. To tell you how I came to be in possession of this angel, I have to take you back a couple weeks.
After a long day of testimony in a corruption trial, I went to grab a beer with a friend. We left court at about 6, and I knew I had until 7 to get back to the parking garage before it closed. (Seriously, parking garages in Harrisburg have a closing time.) A little before 7 I headed back to the parking garage. The attendant was already closed up and getting in her car to leave. She had to wait for me to get my car, and when I got back downstairs she gave me the business. Now, I'm a person who tries to follow the rules and hates to inconvenience other people, so I was frustrated that I had been given such a hard time when I tried to do the right thing. Besides, I pay $15 a day to park there. It's the principle.
Over the weekend, I happened to look at my credit card receipt and noticed that the time stamp was 6:58. On Monday, I pointed this out to the attendant. She said she it takes her time to close up and that she only gets paid until 7. We had words. I told her I pay a lot of money to park in the garage, that I should be able to leave my car there until closing time if I want to, and that it wouldn't kill her to stay a minute over anyway. I left in a tiff and with a mind to write to the parking authority.
When I arrived home, my phone was ringing before I even opened the door. When I answered a voice said "Tracie? This is Peggy from the parking garage." I was stunned. How did she even know my name?
She told me she had my credit card. Apparently I was in such a tizzy that I left it behind. I couldn't believe she was kind enough to look up my phone number and call me after I had given her a hard time (deservedly so, I still maintain.) I retrieved my card, thanked Peggy and apologized for being out of sorts earlier. She apologized, too.
I'm continuing to park in the garage every day while the trial is going on. (Hopefully not too much longer; the case is in the hands of jurors now.) As I was leaving a few days ago, Peggy handed me back something extra with may receipt -- a softball-size red angel hanging from a gold ribbon. It's gaudy, it's heavy, it doesn't match my car, and it swings wildly from the rearview mirror ever time I make the slightest turn. But, I keep it there just the same.
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This was posted on the Post-Gazette premium site Friday. (And, no, I didn't write it myself.) ......
Among about 15 reporters covering the Bonusgate closing arguments this morning in Harrisburg, the PG's tireless statehouse newshound Tracie Mauriello was the only one who got a shout-out from the legal team. That's right. A little background: In January, Tracie profiled the lawyers for state Rep. Mike Veon and got them on the record saying they "would not say how much they are charging Mr. Veon but did confirm that they are not working pro bono." Attorney Dan Raynak later told jurors he would never take money to defend the lawmaker.
So about halfway through his closing, Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick J. Blessington told jurors, that Raynak "either lied to you jurors or he lied to Tracie Mauriello."
Suddenly, after six weeks in the upscale bleachers, all eyes were on Tracie.
Tracie's not one to complain about the drudgery involved in getting the story. But we happen to know she's been in court for hours every day of those six weeks along with AP reporter Mark Scolforo and Trib reporter Brad Bumsted, who she said is there about 75 percent of the time.
Often, she files a breaking story midday and a full story for the paper. Beyond that, Tracie, the PG's Twitter trailblazer, has been tweeting from inside the courtroom at an astonishing rate. She tweeted a dizzying 100 times a day (95 percent from her laptop ... she's hoping to get a Droid soon) when the trial started and said, "I was getting messages from people saying tweet more. So I started doing more."
She cranked it up. For example, she filed 231 tweets yesterday and 120 tweets this morning alone, according to TwitterAnalyzer. She estimates that about half of her 7,646 tweets are related to the trial. She's at pgPoliTweets if you care to join the 1,315 folks following her every keystroke, including -- Capitol reporters say -- Attorney General Tom Corbett himself. Before Bonusgate, she had 1,006 followers. It's certainly one of the first major political trials covered this way -- if not the first, observers say.
She thinks she might have lost some PA government junkies who got bombarded with Bonusgate stuff, but now wonders how many Bonsgate followers will drop off after the verdict. Many followers have expressed gratitude, others, not so much.
Ironically, among the ranks of her followers are two people who backed a motion to have Tracie stop tweeting from inside the courtroom: the sister of Veon aide Annamarie-Perretta Rosepink, of Beaver Falls and also the wife of Rosepink's attorney. During jury selection, Tracie was tweeting about the jurors: like "she is a recently widowed food service worker" and "she's a Republican." Defense attorney Mike Palermo's wife called or text messaged him during jury selection -- having just seen Tracie's tweet -- and asked him, "Why aren’t you picking any Democrats?"
Tweet on, Tracie. Tweet on.
I used to say that all newsroom were the same -- same problems, same cast of characters with different names in each city room. I was wrong. The Post-Gazette is so different. Is it perfect? No. But most days it's pretty darn close.
I don't like to bash previous employers -- and, honestly, there's little room for bashing because I've been treated well on my career path, but The Post-Gazette is different than any other place I've worked.
One place I worked was extremely competitive. Reporters fought for the best stories and the best play. It's good to do that to an extent. If you're not going to advocate for yourself, you may as well give up. But at this newsroom it was extreme. At the Post-Gazette, the attitude is different. Everyone wants to get the best work in the paper even if it is under someone else's byline. Co-workers have always been willing to help me without expecting anything in return.
Another place I worked beat me down at every turn. Any mistake I made I got hauled to "the blue room," which was a space with couches (blue ones), where we went to get bitched out for making factual errors. Now, I take a factual error as seriously as anyone I know. Errors of fact -- even over something small, such as using "avenue" instead of "street" -- affect overall credibility. There was nothing the editors at this paper could say that would make me try any harder or feel any worse than I already did about an error. Instead, it made me afraid to write. The less I wrote, the less chance there would be for an error. The Post-Gazette is not like this. Surely, editors take errors seriously, but they know and expect that reporters do, too. When we make a mistake, we fix it, figure out what caused it and move on. Editors take as much blame as reporters. The first time I had a correction in The Post-Gazette I expected some kind of admonishment. Instead, my editor actually apologized to me and said that HE should have caught the error. He took the blame. That seemed crazy to me. But at The Post-Gazette, we share responsibility and accountability -- both for successes and failures. We are a team.
So ... what inspired this entry? I messed up on Friday. I thought I had sent a breaking news story to our Web editors, but it turns out I'd never sent it. Of course, we got scooped by every other outlet. As soon as I realized it, I sent the story but we were behind everybody else on a story we should have owned. A few minutes later I got an e-mail message from my editor. It started "Hey Tracie -- I know you've been running around like crazy the last few weeks covering this trial ..." Well,I fully expected the next phrase to be "but you can't screw up and forget to send things to the Web." Instead it said "so if you want to take some time off that's fine."
For the last three years I have been covering a government corruption investigation in Pennsylvania. So far, 25 people have been arrested in the scheme, one was acquitted and some of them may go to jail.
I ran into one of the defendants recently and made some small talk. I complimented him on his finely tailored suit. He responded: "I gotta wear it while I can. I won't be able to wear it much longer."
I was stunned. Was he saying he expected to be wearing a prison jumpsuit soon? I didn't know how to respond. I don't know if he realized what I was thinking when he added, "Pretty soon it will be too warm for wool."