And yet, over the years O’Keefe has drawn criticism from people who say Project Veritas selectively edits its undercover videos to fit a particular narrative without the full context.

Some critics point to the work the group did on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which disbanded amid a resulting scandal and a drop in funding. Project Veritas settled an invasion of privacy lawsuit with a former ACORN worker, and the Government Accountability Office later said ACORN had not done anything wrong.

“All journalism is edited selectively so,” O’Keefe said during the panel. “Newspaper people select their words and they arrange them in sentences to paint an elaborate portrait.”

The key to informing American readers and viewers is, of course, just that — getting at what’s factual, and painting a picture grounded in solid reporting rather than a preconceived message. That’s the vital standard protected by freedom of the press, and the one so many Pittsburgh journalists strive to meet each day.

Zito, who sat patiently between O’Keefe and me, has taken that other approach to reporting. She doesn’t use any hidden cameras to capture someone’s true feelings. Instead, she takes time to learn about the communities she covers and then to listen.

That approach helped her identify the populist sentiments that helped Trump get elected. Now, she warns that too few people are paying attention to the populist uprising also happening on the left.

“I approach journalism the way that you used to when there were a lot of smaller newspapers,” Zito told me. “I try to go into a community or into a region and sort of become part of the community and listen to what the concerns are.”

Project Veritas has posted an edited video of the panel discussion, which may be viewed below:

Andrew Conte, director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, writes the On Media column with support from The Heinz Endowments. You may find all of his columns here, and you may reach him at