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An Open Letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

President Dell’Omo will be sending the following letter to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. If you agree with what he says in the letter, please voice your opinion — respectfully, please — by emailing David Shribman (dshribman@post-gazette.com), Susan Smith (ssmith2@post-gazette.com) and/or Jerry Micco (jmicco@post-gazette.com).

_____

David Shribman
Executive Editor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
34 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA  15222

Dear David:

Some time ago RMU Athletics Director Craig Coleman spoke to you about the sparse coverage of Robert Morris University sports teams in the Post-Gazette. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved, which is why I am writing today.

RMU has 23 NCAA Division I sports, more than Pitt, West Virginia, and Duquesne, which receives disproportionately greater coverage for its athletic program than Robert Morris. Our men’s and women’s basketball team have each been to the NCAA tournament two times in the past five years, and our men’s team has made seven NCAA tournament appearances since 1982, a conference record. In contrast, Duquesne has not been to the tournament since 1977.

Our football team has won six conference championships, though the program only dates to 1994. Both men’s and women’s hockey teams have defeated several top 20 opponents over the last several years, and our women’s team, which currently has the nation’s sixth highest winning percentage, has produced an Olympian. I know you are aware we have the only Division I hockey program in the Pittsburgh region, where hockey is becoming increasingly popular.  As a result of the national reputation our hockey program has developed, we were selected to host, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four at the CONSOL Energy Center.

But you’d barely know any of this from reading the sports pages of the Post-Gazette. Frequently the beat writers assigned to cover RMU – four in the past three years – have been called away from RMU events to cover high school football instead. The Post-Gazette never hires local stringers to cover our road games, even though it appears to be a common practice when Duquesne goes on the road. Recently, the Post-Gazette failed to file its own story about our game against LaSalle in Philadelphia, even though a beat reporter was at our post-game press conference – covering Pitt at the same tournament.

The purpose of my letter is not to request less coverage for our fellow institutions, especially Duquesne, but to have RMU receive comparable coverage worthy of its status as a Division I university.  This would include having a Robert Morris link at the top of the Sports page on the Post-Gazette’s website, along with all the other local Division I universities; and not being one of many that fall within “More Colleges.”

A majority of RMU’s 5,000 students, and their families, are from the Pittsburgh region. We have approximately 30,000 alumni living in the region, and many more fans among the general public. I assure you there is a thirst among your readers for greater coverage of RMU.

I look forward to meeting with you and the appropriate members of your staff in person to discuss this issue further. Thank you,

Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.

President, Robert Morris University

cc: Jerry Micco
Susan Smith

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27 Comments Post a comment
  1. Greg Hites #

    I completely agree with the president, being an RMU alumni it is rather disheartening that equal billing is not given to our quality. Great things are happening on the RMU campus but for whatever reason the school doesn’t even get back page respect.

    November 30, 2011
  2. Karen Douglass #

    Dr. Dell’Omo,

    I thank you for addressing this issue. I agree that RMU’s news coverage is paltry to say the very least. Please keep us updated with the PG’s response.

    Karen J. Douglass ’89
    RMU Alumni Council

    November 30, 2011
  3. Tracy Gorrell, Assistant Director, Center for Student Success, RMU #

    I am in complete agreement with Dr. Dell’Omo on this subject. For years I have been upset by the lack of coverage that our student-athletes/sporting teams receive in the media. In order to follow RMU athletics, I refer to the Beaver/Allegheny County Times because the coverage that is provided by that publication is far greater than the other Pittsburgh papers. We have so many talented athletes here at RMU that never receive the recognition that they so deserve. In addition to being athletes, they are also great students and people. Our student-athletes are in the community giving back, as well as performing on the court/field, and in the classroom.

    In addition, the local news channels also give us very little coverage. In order to catch the final score of any basketball game held away from campus, I have to refer to ESPN because I know that the information will not be provided on the local stations.

    November 30, 2011
  4. Dr. Dell’Omo,

    As an alumna living here in Pittsburgh – I have to agree! It thrills me when I get to read exciting news about RMU! I am proud to have graduated from RMU and am proud of all of the improvements that the University has made even since I graduated. RMU Programs, including our sports programming, deserves fair and equitable coverage in our local media! I whole heartedly support your efforts and am happy to make public comments to local media if necessary!

    Sincerely,
    Ian N. Syphard
    Undergraduate Class of ’08
    Graduate Class of ’09

    November 30, 2011
  5. Scott #

    I think the same letter needs to go to the major TV stations as well!! I was watching the KDKA coverage of the RMU vs Pitt basketball game the other night and was really mad that all of the coverage was the highlights of the Pitt players scoring and making it look like they dominated the game. Pitt only one by 10 points and is arguably the much larger and stronger of the 2 programs! Yet there was not a SINGLE piece of video footage of RMU players scoring or doing anything other than defending Pitt and fouling one of their players. Pathetic!

    November 30, 2011
    • Ron #

      I agree as well… I have noticed this for years. It is a same to have a local paper avoid Robert Morris University.

      December 1, 2011
  6. President Dell’Omo,

    Excellent letter to the PG. It’s about time, as RMU has experience exceptional growth and continues to expand its academic and athletic profile.

    Looking forward to seeing the response!

    Phil

    November 30, 2011
  7. The lack of coverage from the region’s largest papers is the sole reason I started ColonialsCorner.com five years ago. Now part of Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports, ColonialsCorner is the premier destination for Robert Morris sports. We cover football, basketball, and hockey, and we’re growing.

    I encourage everyone to check out the site for their Robert Morris sports news, since it’s clear the standard-bearers for news in the region cannot be bothered. Also, feel free me to email me at achiappazzi@yahoo.com for a free trial. Yes, we’re a subscription site, but we have plenty of free content as well. And we make it worth your money.

    November 30, 2011
  8. Paul McCarthy #

    I have just sent an email to Jerry Micco regarding this subject. Hopefully RMU can get some decent coverage. In fact when I went to RMU in the early 70’s, the basketball team which was a national power in the JC ranks got better coverage. Today with all the success our athletic teams have garnered I can’t find out if we beat LaSalle the other night.

    I think if we all write to the Post-Gazette today we may have an impact.

    November 30, 2011
  9. Bob Larson #

    Than-you President Dell’Omo for writing to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette re: Robert Morris sports. This has always been a problem, the lack of coverage. I was furious last year when the preview story of our game with Pitt didn’t even talk about Robert Morris, especially since we just beat Duquesne. Then a week later Pitt plays Duquesne and the “City Game” gets a huge story and the writer left out that Duquesne was beaten by RMU. I called the Post-Gazette and voiced my displeasure over a voice mail. I left my name and number and never got a return phone call. RMU deserves more coverage, especially in basketball, where we are winning. With the popularity in hockey in this area and being the only D1 hockey team in town, the lack of coverage is laughable and disrespectful.

    November 30, 2011
  10. Tyler Unikewicz #

    I fully agree with what Dr. Dell’Omo has stated over the past few years our most consistent beat writer has been Paul Meyer from the Post Gazette and now he writes for rmucolonials.com and after him we had a combination of Colin Dunlap who ended up going from the RMU beat to the WVU football/Duquesne BBall beat to the Pirates beat and the last two years was Micheal Sanserino who did a great job and was at the Consol Energy Center to cover Colonial Hockey. I would also like to commend Andrew Chiappazzi because he is there at most if not all the games as well as covering high school sports in the area. Robert Morris maybe a mid major but we have played up against some of the big schools. In the last five years Robert Morris has defeated Boston College in Mens Basketball (ACC) and was on the cusp of a major upset over Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2010 and what an atmosphere that was, in 2006/2007 the Womens Basketball team played in the NCAA tournament taking on Rutgers and NC State, last year they beat Virginia Tech at Va. Tech, out Ice Hockey teams by way which are the only ones in the area have taken on ranked teams such as Michigan State on the Mens side and by the way the Mens team swept ranked Miami of Ohio in 2010 and our womens team has had an Olympic Goalie in Brianne McLaughlin. This doesn’t even mention the football team and our many other sports that we have and are proud of. I am a proud RMU alum and thrilled that this letter is being written. Go Colonials

    November 30, 2011
  11. Why I disagree with this letter:

    1. It’s the Post Gazette. While it’s one of only two regional newspapers, I have NEVER relied on the Post Gazette for anything other than opinionated garbage. And that is only the sports coverage. If you evaluate the political pages in the Post Gazette, you’ll find the most conservative-bashing crap of any newspaper but the New York Times.

    2. What a news organization chooses to report on is the business of the news organization. Yes, it’s unfair to RMU. I will concede that point but such is life. Very few things in this world are fair. Grow your own program with your own PR; don’t wait for your local news organization to do it for you.

    3. Duquesne and Pitt have longstanding tradition, MANY more local alumni, and many more current students (well, Pitt does anyhow). Because you believe there is a thirst for readership about your institution, does not mean there is.

    Please remember that the purpose of a newspaper, newstalk radio, tv program, or magazine periodical is to sell advertising and turn profit. The publisher will determine which content it believes will sell more advertising and stick with it. Sorry if this does not include more coverage of RMU.

    November 30, 2011
  12. Bill Kennedy #

    This is Fantastic. As a former RMU student-athlete I continue to follow the programs that Robert Morris offers. It is very often difficult to simply find a score. rmucolonials.com is one a a very few places to find information. Thanks President Dell’Omo for letting the world know about the Colonials.

    Bill Kennedy
    ’99

    November 30, 2011
  13. Dave T #

    Wholeheartedly agree! I won’t even read the Gazette for sports coverage anymore. I’m tired of reading about Pitt’s loosing records. Tim Benz’s morning show covers RMU Hockey much better than anything produced from the PG and as a result I’ll continue to listen to his show. RMU has proven itself in terms of ability, Its time for the sports journalists who represent the “largest paper” in town to pay a little more respect to an athletic program and an institution that has consistently defied expectations.

    November 30, 2011
  14. Paul Spradley #

    And now that the President and hundreds of proud colonials have expressed their displeasure with the coverage of RMU’s athletic teams from the local media, how will the local media respond? I feel like if they can’t support us then maybe the 5000 students and 50+ thousand alum should stop supporting the Post Gazette. Even if just for a year. I’m hopeful and optimistic it won’t come to that.

    Sincerely,

    Paul

    December 1, 2011
  15. Ok, one more I just thought of:

    Since High School Football is so big in this region, doesn’t this letter open the floodgates for school district superintendents too? “What about my school district?” Why are you covering North Hills, Woodland Hills, West Allegheny, etc… more than you are covering my school?

    I don’t know. I guess I just simplify again by saying it’s nobody’s business what goes in a newspaper except the publisher of the newspaper. In determining what that is, they will figure out what is most profitable and go that way. Newspapers are not public entities which must be fair to all parties.

    December 1, 2011
  16. Shellyn Shoenthal #

    As an alum, practinging PR professional, and the upcoming president of PRSA Pittsbugh, I have to agree that you make a very strong case, and I certainly hope that this will “level the playing field” for regional sports coverage. Good Luck!

    December 1, 2011
  17. Connie Storino #

    I agree my daughter played volleyball there and made it to the conference championship all 4 years and there was no coverage at all. I hope things change

    December 1, 2011
  18. I would rather President Dell’Omo focus on pushing the SEMS program than on sports coverage. I prefer that, in general, the university’s time, money, and effort went towards academics instead of sport. Why am I the only one saying this?

    December 1, 2011
    • Mark Niskach #

      A University President can focus on many things. Just because President Dell’Omo is asking for equal coverage of regional university athletics, doesn’t mean he can’t do his job in other areas. How much “money” do you seriously think he spent on writing a letter to the Post Gazette? I doubt if that will hurt the school’s budget. You are the only one saying this because you are being ridiculous.

      December 1, 2011
      • The second sentence was a _general_ statement about the University’s activities (the sentence literally begins with “in general”). Can you elaborate on my being ridiculous so that we may have a reasonable and useful conversation?

        December 1, 2011
  19. I definitely agree with the Presiden’ts letter. That is one of the main reasons I cancelled my subscription to the PG. They have lost too many good writers and they do not cover enough of the news that I need to know. Ed Bouchette & Gene Collier are the only reasons I even look at the PG online unless I need to look at an obituary. It’s a shame that I work in Moon Twp. and do not have respectable coverage of the students, coaches, faculty, and administration that I deal with every day. Great things are done on and off that campus by those people. They should get the recognition that they deserve!

    Jason Katrencik ’00

    December 1, 2011
  20. I totally agree. Robert Morris surely is in need of equal coverage in sports.

    December 1, 2011
  21. Mark Niskach #

    Mark Niskach

    Excellent letter! The RMU Alumni, current student body, and fans of Robert Morris athletics deserve more coverage in the Post-Gazette. Thank you President Dell’Omo for bringing the request across clearly and in a professional way. The City of Pittsburgh in general needs to be made aware, if they do not know already, that Robert Morris University has transformed from the “small business college that could” to the full blown University that it is today. It can clearly compete athletically and academically with the Pitt’s and Duquesne’s of the region.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    December 1, 2011
  22. JRM #

    Successful sports programs bring in more students and alumni donations. I’m willing to bet there was a SIGNIFICANT spike in applications and donations following RMU’s recent trips to the NCAA tournament.

    The more coverage RMU get’s in the local media for sports the more interest RMU will get from local high school seniors and other prospective students as well as increased willingness to donate from alumni.

    Think about it. High school kids want to go to a school with good sports team so they can go to games and everything associated with that and alumni feel good about having gone to RMU so they are more open to giving money. If they don’t know about RMU’s sports successes, than RMU is missing out on more students and more donations.

    I agree with the letter entirely but at the end of the day I see this for what it really is…a marketing and admissions tactic.

    December 1, 2011
  23. Nice job Dr. Dell’Omo! As an Alumn and Corporate Sponsor of RMU, I agree that we should get more coverage in the local papers. I know this letter is specifically directed towards the athletics department; as a whole, it would be nice to see more coverage on RMU. Thank you for sending this! Go Colonials!

    John Herington
    Hampton Inn – Pittsburgh Airport

    December 19, 2011
  24. bill oman #

    The Post Gazette also does not cover the regional public state universities, all of which are larger than and have more alumni than Robert Morris. IUP has 14,000 students on campus, Slippery Rock about 9,000 and California about the same. There are many other private college campuses in the area also suffering from a PG blackout not only in sports, but in just about everything else. These days the paper has to cover the entire region, not just three colleges that are within walking distance of the home office. There are a lot of good writers and great “opinion” columns in the paper on both sports and other subjects. However, views are not news. What seems to be in thin supply are reporters and reports about the details of major institutions, municipalities and community events beyond an invisible line that the paper seems to observe. Retire some of the columnists and replace them with reporters who will serve up more raw meat and less hash.

    February 10, 2012

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