More from Pittsburgh and the Post-Gazette

Arshad Dogar

I was in search of a peaceful land where I could live, learn, and visit in the company of experienced, accomplished and friendly people — I have finally found it all — in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Arshad in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh promotes openness among its citizens, government machinery and journalists. I have been here two weeks and had a chance to attend a couple of public and official meetings. I was amazed to witness that the public is really concerned about issues and people are taking part in discussions actively and willingly.

I covered a protest at Deer Lakes High School against fracking of parks for gas and a subsequent meeting chaired by the County Executive. I was impressed to see people busy in productive criticism.

They were concerned about the clean environment, public parks and students in nearby schools. County officials heard the concerns of people patiently and explained to them that the gas produced by fracking would be in the interest of the whole nation. It’s interesting to me because I can understand the difference between the decisions taken with — or without — the consent of the people.

At Barack Obama Academy-International, four candidates running for Governor of Pennsylvania talked about their agendas to improve education systems. This helps the public decide who would be their best leader.

What if such a productive approach was adopted in other parts of the world, especially in under-developed countries?

The story doesn’t end here. I’ve found judges, non-profit organizations, district government and probation officers worried about the increasing population of incarcerated people in America. Their focus is to curb recidivism and make prisoners healthy members of the society.

I’ve also found that the folks related to my profession are really important here. They work hard, prove themselves and get admired everywhere.

Recently, about 20 students sustained injuries in a stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School. The response of the newsroom staff, editors and other beat reporters was worth seeing. Everyone helped the reporters and the newspaper gave the best coverage of the incident.

Look! If you are a woman even then you don’t worry. There is no discrimination by gender. Interestingly, there is a separate club for women named the Women’s Press Club, where female journalists celebrate their accomplishments annually in a colorful event.

Don’t get bored! I am going to share with you one more exciting thing.

The media houses and fellow-journalists here do not lag behind in the use of advanced technology. Recently, three Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staffers attended a three-day conference at the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting. They returned and briefed their fellow journalists on everything learned there.

I was lucky to attend the briefing. Now I am able to convert PDF files into usable Word or Excel files. Also learned now to use census micro-data and social media tools to track sources, and am beginning to use reporting Apps for iPhone and Android smart-phones.

Lastly, I’m observing that people here work five days a week, eight hours a day with full concentration.  They don’t waste time during business hours.

It has helped me understanding why the U.S. has advanced so far in comparison to many other countries of the world. It does not mean that the folks here only work, they also enjoy the weekend in its true spirit.

I am trying to make good friends to learn from their good experiences and to share with all the rest of you guys.

So, stay tuned!