When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Those were the wise words of Pittsburgh’s own Fred Rogers, who for more than three decades, taught lifelong lessons of kindness, acceptance and empathy to millions of children across America through his critically-acclaimed television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Rogers practiced what he preached beyond the screen, embodying the true essence of “a good neighbor” through the compassion he exuded to both friends and strangers alike.
In a 1999 interview with the Academy of the Arts, Mr. Rogers spoke about the importance of positive, localized media coverage highlighting relief efforts during times of societal turmoil. “There will always be helpers on the sidelines,” he said. “That’s why I think news programs (should) make a conscious effort of showing rescue teams, showing medical people, showing anybody who’s coming into a place where there’s tragedy. …Because if you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”
His desire for a spotlight on the helpers resonates more than ever today. While the ripple effects of an unprecedented global pandemic continue to alter life as we know it, the helpers of our communities have emerged to the forefront.
In recent weeks, the Pittsburgh media landscape has shared compelling stories about countless local helpers in the fight against COVID-19. From multi-million dollar relief efforts and initiatives by Pittsburgh’s top nonprofit foundations to one woman’s donation of 1,000 handsewn masks for police officers, we’ve observed notable coverage themes across local publications that highlight the compassion, expertise, innovation and resilience in Pittsburgh’s response to COVID-19.
Pittsburgh is a close-knit community with a knack for rallying together during times of crisis. People are always willing to lend a helping hand. When highlighting prominent COVID-19 relief actions, local publications are balancing between organizational initiatives, diversity/inclusion efforts, and human-interest features.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 22: POISE foundation launches fund to help black community during COVID-19 crisis
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 20: After World Down Syndrome Day relay postponed, Pittsburgh mom selling masks for cause
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 15: Thomas Tull’s $4.2 million donation a nod to Jackie Robinson
- NextPittsburgh, April 14:R.K. Mellon Foundation to provide $15 million for COVID-19 relief grants
Like our friends up in Boston, Matter Pittsburgh is located within one of the top medical hubs in the country. The city’s major healthcare systems are pioneering breakthrough COVID-19 research focused on vaccine development, therapeutic treatments, antibody testing and more. Local publications are emphasizing in-depth reporting on vaccine research, alternative treatment options, PPE access and expanded testing capacity.
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 23: How Pittsburgh paramedics are assessing potential COVID-19 patients
- NextPittsburgh, April 23: Allegheny Health Network adopts p100 masks made by MSA
- Pittsburgh Business Times, April 21: With increased testing, UPMC to move ahead with more surgeries
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 21: First Pittsburgh patients treated with plasma at UPMC
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 19:WVU is designing Smart Rings, Apps and Algorithms to identify COVID-19 before symptoms occur
Home to a thriving technology scene with a variety of companies spearheading digital innovation, it’s no surprise that Pittsburgh’s technology capabilities are already being utilized to combat COVID-19. Local media is focusing on how advanced technology can support healthcare, education and contact tracing during the global pandemic.
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 23: Wolf Administration to use CMU developed dashboard in reopening PA
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 23: Technology investment allows North Allegheny to focus on online education
- CBS Pittsburgh, April 23: Tech Center: Early COVID-19 Detection Tools
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 21: CMU professor develops contact tracing App using ultrasound technology
The impact of COVID-19 on a local level is evident throughout Pittsburgh. The health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations, as well as economic implications for the hospitality sector, service industry and small businesses are among the most alarming realities. COVID-19’s local impact has been covered with a delicate balance of honoring the lives and legacies of local victims while highlighting unique challenges and inspirational stories of triumph.
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 24: The Faces of COVID-19
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 23: PA’s nursing homes most vulnerable during COVID-19
- PublicSource, April 22: For Pittsburgh’s immigrants, COVID-19 amplifies language barriers
- Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 22: Versatile Monroeville caterer changes business model in face of restrictions
- PublicSource, April 21:From bras to bars to daycare centers, tremendous pain in the Pittsburgh small business sector
In Mr. Rogers’ image, we can all do our part to spread hope as we navigate the twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here at Matter, we’ll continue monitoring media coverage in the Pittsburgh area and beyond to keep a pulse on the state of our local communities. We’d love to hear from you. Are there any stories that have caught your eye? Are there others that still need to be told? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!