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Paul Martino

October 12, 2011

Paul Martino, Anchor/Report, KDKA News:

Does it get difficult at times distinguishing what’s newsworthy versus gossip when dealing with sports figures? How do you make that distinction?

We do not report gossip!  

We hear all kinds of wild stories about Pittsburgh sports figures.   Former quarterback Kordell Stewart was the victim of an outrageous rumor campaign that we never reported.  You don’t report that stuff unless you have some factual basis.  Is there a police report?  Is someone with credibility speaking on the record?  

That makes it news.  But if it’s just an unproven rumor….ITS NOT NEWS.  

Who were some of he most memorable Pittsburgh sports figures you’ve met –and what made them so?

I am not overly impressed by sports figures.   While I respect and admire their enormous talent, I believe they are given far too much hero worship.  They are not heroes.  They are simply guys who hit the gene-pool lottery and have amazing speed and hand/eye coordination.

Having said all that, I am forever grateful to have known the late, great Art Rooney.  When I came to town as a young man, he made it a point to introduce himself and always remembered me after that.  We both love Chicago – my hometown – and we shared our experiences there.   

Point being – I was just a kid coming to town and he was this huge figure who helped start the NFL.   Yet he acted like a down to earth, ordinary guy.  

What’s your favorite team to cover – and why?

I get grief for this from time-to-time, but being born and raised in Chicago I have mixed loyalties.   I grew up with the White Sox, Bears and Blackhawks.    

But after living in Pittsburgh 27 years, I love the Steelers (I have season tickets), and the Penguins.  I am even catching Pirates fever this summer.

What was the most difficult sports news story you have covered and what made it so?

The passing of Art Rooney was difficult.  I interviewed him a few weeks before he died and you could see he was not doing well.

I had a difficult time covering the Penguins first Stanley Cup run in Minnesota.  They serve hard liquor in that arena.   Fans were trashed and Minnesota was losing.   One night, as I gave my live report at 11…a car painted in team colors came barreling right at me as angry fans were shouting behind me.  I had to bail out of the live report.  There was a police investigation and it was big news in Minneapolis.

Conversely, what was your favorite sports news story to cover, and why?

Oddly, it’s the same story.   Stacy Smith and I were live on the ice in Minnesota as they wheeled the Stanley Cup out to our ‘guins.   I will never forget that moment.

What steps do you take as you compete with the “information now” mindset brought on by the Internet and social media?

I’ve had to get hip to it.    I reluctantly got on Facebook.    My reluctance was the fact that I don’t like sharing a lot of private information about myself.  Now that I am on there it’s not so bad.   

People reach out to me about my stories.   I didn’t expect that.  What concerns you most about the news derived from those sources by fans? It happens all the time.  There is a lot of crap on the internet.  Stuff that isn’t true.  I refer to my first response – we don’t report rumors.  We deal in facts that we can attribute to a record or a credible person.  

Folks on the internet can say just about anything whether it has any basis in fact or not.

Many sports teams have launched their own in-house news departments, with writers, editors, etc.   Does this concern you? If so, how?

It’s a double-edged sword.  These people can help me do my job by providing me with information, interviews etc.   But they also try to control what I report.  

If they don’t like the questions I am asking or the slant of my story, they can freeze me out.  I am always reluctant to accept video from any organization.   They can manipulate it to only show what they want shown.   

If we do use their video, we must identify the source of that video.

What advice would you offer those seeking to get into news and sports broadcasting?

Be aware that the industry is rapidly changing – largely because of what we have been talking about – new technology, social media, the internet.The fact is, none of us know what TV of the future will look like.  

Will it be an IPAD?  Will it come off my phone?  Will I order up news and sports stories on demand?  Will TV become irrelevant?   

A change is coming, and the dollars and cents are changing too.   Wages are lower.  If broadcasting is your passion, I wouldn’t discourage you…but be aware that changes are coming rapidly.

Any plans to write a book about your experiences as some local broadcasters and journalists  have done?


Any last thoughts for readers?

Don’t overreact to wins and losses.  

I love sports and enjoy watching games and going to games.   But we shouldn’t get too high on championships and too low on losing championships.   It’s a bunch of wealthy men playing a game.   And while it makes for some incredible moments and compelling stories….there are so many other things that are much more important in life.

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