Monday, January 12, 2009

Pittsburgh in the NYT

I'm certainly not the first to cover Pittsburgh's big break in the Economy section of the NYT (in fact I might be the last). That's ok though, because my reflection is going to be a little bit different. I thought the piece was great publicity for Pittsburgh, but only fluff as far as an "economics" piece goes. Maybe I've just spent too much time researching the Burgh, but summarizing the Pittsburgh Renaissance as a, "development plan begun in the 1980s [that] successfully used the local universities to pour state funds into technology research" seems a little short of reality, there was a lot more to it. Then sumarizing its results as "Entrepreneurship bloomed in computer software and biotechnology" is definitely a bit much. I seem to recall some recent criticism of the entrepreneurship scene and has anyone else noticed that Pittsburgh's own Meakem Becker doesn't have a single Pittsburgh company in its portfolio? A more realistic picture of the economic resurgance likely is that we bottomed out a couple years back and now have nowhere to go but up. That doesn't paint the picture of a quaint midwestern town (which, don't kid yourself, is how New Yorkers see us) that sells newspapers.

What's more interesting has been the fallout. Several interesting little tidbits have fallen out of the NYT's recent interest in Pittsburgh.
  • First, is the Freakenomics blog post by Stephen Dubner himself (who claims to be a Steeler fan!) about the unusual fact that the Steeler's aren't mentioned in the article. Dubner points out that writing an article about Pittsburgh without mentioning the Steelers is tricky, especially given that the 15 highest rated shows in the Pittsburgh area, have all been Steeler games.
  • Second, is another NYT article about the most creative leader in all of Pittsburgh. No, not Luke Ravenstahl. No, not Dan Onorato. No, not even Mike Tomlin. Dick LeBeau. The article is really a charming piece about one of the more interesting Burghers. Its well researched, with a lot of insight from previous teamates and colleagues. While there is some "aren't Pittsburghers such a cute midwestern novelty" attitude, it's more forgivable then the aforementioned "economics" article.
  • Third, is a Pop City article about the author of the LeBeau piece. While it is not a NYT piece, it is nice to know that Pittsburghers (who live in the city of Pittsburgh) are getting published in the New York Times. Even nicer to know that they're brining their NY salaries to Pittsburgh to spend. Check out the building that she is working on, absolutely amazing.

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