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Columnists Tony Norman
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Tony Norman's path into journalism has been convoluted, to say the least. When he joined the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's city desk in November 1988, it was not to cover breaking stories. No, Norman was hired to input letters to the editor and answer phones. As a clerk for a little over a year, Norman learned humility and even managed to get his typing speed into an acceptable range.

Quickly learning the lay of the land at the Post-Gazette, Norman identified niche beats he could make his own and perhaps make a name for himself. After finishing his regular shift as a clerk, he'd cover pop music for the features desk. His industry and familiarity with genres like gangsta rap and alternative music made him an invaluable part of the Post-Gazette's coverage of popular music and culture in the early '90s. Norman was named the Post-Gazette's pop music/pop culture critic in 1990.

Early on, Norman began winning local awards for his cultural reporting. He's been a much sought after commentator on cultural issues and a frequent guest on local talk shows and television programs.

In 1996, Norman, then 36, began feeling self-conscious knowing so much about Madonna and so little about the Federal Reserve Board. He asked for and was given responsibility for a general interest column in July, 1996. It rejuvenated his interest in the kind of journalism that makes a difference.

Since then, Norman's column has garnered many national, state and local awards. In 1999, Norman's column won first place in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for newspapers with a circulation of 100,000 and up. He also won first place in the Keystone, Golden Quill and Pittsburgh Black Media Federation competitions. He also won a second place National Excellence in feature writing award for columns from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and an honorable mention Matrix Award from Women in Communication. He's done very well in those kinds of contests, but please don't ask him about his SAT scores.

In July, 1999, Norman joined the Post-Gazette's editorial board, once and for all proving that everyone rises to the level of their incompetence sooner or later. Now Norman wrestles with the implication of WTO policy on sheepherders in New Zealand. Thoughts of Snoop Doggy Dogg and Madonna are fond memories now.

Norman, 42, is a native of West Philadelphia but now lives in Swisshelm Park. He married a fellow alumnus of Calvin College and moved to Pittsburgh in 1987 when it was clear he would never be admitted to Columbia University's prestigious graduate school for film. As a "distracted" former political science major, Norman had few options in the real world. Journalism, happily, turned out to be one of them. His three boys do their best to keep him humble.


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