We've spent the last decade building credibility and community as we produce thoughtful best-in-class journalism for and with the Pittsburgh region. Over the next 10 years, we will continue to pair the journalistic traditions worth keeping with innovative and inclusive methods of storytelling to drive change.
Pittsburgh will always be at the center of PublicSource’s mission. You have trusted us to share your experiences, your expertise and you have helped us to hold individuals and systems accountable when they have fallen short.
Thank you for your trust, your constructive feedback and for caring deeply, right along with us.
Right around the time Rich Fitzgerald became the Allegheny County executive, PublicSource began hiring full-time reporters. Some of our first stories included explaining PA’s stand-your-ground law after the killing of Trayvon Martin and coverage of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here’s a glimpse inside our first office on Melwood Avenue in Oakland, back when we were part of Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
PublicSource continues to make partnerships with newspapers, radio stations and news websites across the state. By mid-2015, we had more than 50 partners republishing our stories throughout the commonwealth.
Our reporters have been recognized locally for their work, but starting around this time, PublicSource journalism began to be recognized regionally and nationally for its excellence. A feature story about a husband and wife who both have cerebral palsy and whose situation highlighted the ‘marriage penalty’ experienced by people with disabilities won a national Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. An investigation into state police failing to fingerprint suspected criminals was honored in a statewide journalism contest, along with projects on campaign finance and the heroin epidemic.
Mayor Bill Peduto came into office this year as well, and he met with PublicSource reporters at our office. Over the years, we covered his administration closely. Here are some examples:
We embarked on an environmental reporting project that put PublicSource on the cutting edge of journalism using sensors. We provided air sensors to residents concerned about shale gas drilling in their community and scientists guided us as we monitored air pollutants before and after the shale gas pad became active.
PublicSource produced its first data tool on psychotropics being prescribed to juvenile offenders as part of a larger investigative project that was named a finalist for the national Livingston Award on local reporting.
Our team of four people moved into an office on the main drag in the Allentown neighborhood. We loved coffee at Black Forge and lunch at Breakfast at Shelly’s!
PublicSource made a strategic decision to focus on the Pittsburgh region as opposed to the state of Pennsylvania. We did this because we wanted to directly serve our neighbors in a more meaningful way. We bring broader context to what’s happening in your backyard.
We started working with community members to tell their own stories on important topics and experiences through first-person essays. We have since published more than 200 of these essays — and pay the writers for their work.
The entire PublicSource team took the Fault Lines training by the Maynard Institute. The Fault Lines help us recognize how our own identities and backgrounds affect our worldviews and equip us to evaluate ourselves and our journalism for bias and representation. The Fault Lines are: race, gender, sexual orientation, class, geography and generation.
“I am a Black girl and…” published, marking PublicSource’s first foray into projects with deep storytelling, standout design and community involvement.
And still, in more recent years, we have been dogged about unpacking what is going on at our city’s water authority.
“It would’ve been a nightmare. It would’ve been like Flint, Michigan, only the issue was not lead in the water. It was no water.” —” said Caren Glotfelty, a city water authority board member from 2014 to 2017, told PublicSource.
When the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue occurred — the deadliest antisemitic attack in our country’s history — the region’s journalists all produced remarkable and meaningful work for the community. PublicSource’s coverage helped Pittsburghers and many beyond the city make sense of all the news through a variety of stories that included: thought-provoking and emotional videos; first-person essays; and stories about security at houses of worship and the presence of hate groups. Unfortunately, years later, there is a still a need for PublicSource to continue to be the platform for your neighbors to share their thoughts and feelings on antisemitic attacks and other violence.
A multipart investigation, exclusive to PublicSource, showed how Pittsburgh city employees bungled police software projects, inefficiently managed federal funds and questionably favored a software contractor.
Let’s Talk About Race combined community storytelling, enterprise journalism, design and data analysis to amplify the critical discussion of race and racism. The illustrated data page shows how PublicSource merges its data skills with our desire to make information digestible and usable for our readers.
Good River: Stories of the Ohio connected the 25 million residents of the Ohio River watershed through stories about its beauty, history and challenges. PublicSource convened seven nonprofit newsrooms across five states to produce this project, which was a finalist in the Online News Association’s international award for collaborations.
PublicSource partners with more than a dozen other news organizations on a regular basis in many different ways, from allowing our stories to be republished to producing stories together.
We outgrew our office! With more than a dozen people on the PublicSource team, we found a new office in a co-working space in Uptown.
Before the onset of the pandemic, PublicSource examined the insurmountable burden of court debt on some local residents. Our reporting helped inspire local reforms.
After the world abruptly changed in March, PublicSource shifted to a fully remote newsroom while working tirelessly to cover the pandemic’s impact on Pittsburgh and its residents. We looked at its impact on students, businesses and essential workers through stories and a new podcast (now three seasons in). On a daily basis, we tracked the rise in local cases and provided perspective on the community’s transition from a mandated shutdown.
In a summer of protests over racial injustice, our journalists captured scenes of unity, outrage and harsh tactics used by law enforcement. We also obtained disciplinary data from Pittsburgh police, showing that while most officers had few complaints, several officers were repeat violators.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, PublicSource and Unabridged Press asked local residents with disabilities to reflect on the impact of the law in the Pittsburgh area and the challenges to better accessibility.
The Online News Association honored PublicSource with an Online Journalism Award for General Excellence by a micronewsroom in its international contest.
One year after nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd, we examined how local college campuses responded to calls for racial equity and improved diversity. We heard concerns about anti-Asian racism in the wake of a mass shooting in Atlanta and examined the lack of diversity in tenured professors, all part of a partnership with Open Campus.
We teamed up with WESA on our yearlong Tenant Cities project, which revealed ongoing problems at two housing projects owned by PNC Bank. Our reporting drew immediate pledges for reform and calls for action from local officials.
The City of Prayer project gave a unique, in-depth look into the lives of residents who have America’s largest coke-producing facility in their backyard.
Our team continues to search for ways to serve our community. We launched an email course on the hows and whys of Pittsburgh, entitled “Know Pittsburgh. For real.” Public-service guides on practical matters, like how to access water bill discounts or find scholarships, are one way we’re acting on questions and concerns we hear. And we go to community events and meetings to let people know we’re here and to come to us with questions and ideas. (If you have a group meeting you’d like one of us to speak at, reach out to email@example.com!)
For the second consecutive year, the Online News Association honored PublicSource with an Online Journalism Award for General Excellence by a micronewsroom.
As Mayor Ed Gainey made history as Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor, PublicSource covered the third mayoral administration since its founding.
The year hasn’t been slow. We’ve contended with COVID surges and a bridge collapse while deeply exploring the city’s religious diversity, the county’s property tax assessment system and the implications of tax exemptions. We’ve also launched a new weekly newsletter about gender and identity issues following the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion on Roe v. Wade.
As of June 2022, the PublicSource team has earned 20 awards in regional and state contests.
Sure, we don’t have hundred-year legacies like some news organizations, but we celebrate each and every year we are trusted to carry out our mission of inspiring critical thinking and bold ideas through journalism rooted in facts, diverse voices and the pursuit of transparency.
What’s next? We’re dedicated to not only continuing but also improving the ways we meet your information needs, surprise you and represent you.
Thank you for your support!
Design and web development by Natasha Vicens.
Text by Halle Stockton.
Many thanks to Jennie Ewing Liska, Alyia Paulding, Rich Lord and TyLisa C. Johnson for edits, gathering materials and the walks down memory lane. (Photo credits: Lead photo collage - Ryan Loew, Jay Manning, Nick Childers, Lindsay Dill/PublicSource; 2012 - Joshua Franzos/H Magazine; 2014 - Nick Childers/PublicSource; 2018 - Ryan Loew and Kay Procyk/PublicSource; 2020 - Ryan Loew/PublicSource; 2022 - Ryan Loew, Nick Childers, TyLisa C. Johnson, Natasha Vicens/PublicSource & Fern Hollow Bridge photo courtesy Tracy Baton)
Many thanks to Jennie Ewing Liska, Alyia Paulding, Rich Lord and TyLisa C. Johnson for edits, gathering materials and the walks down memory lane.
(Photo credits: Lead photo collage - Ryan Loew, Jay Manning, Nick Childers, Lindsay Dill/PublicSource; 2012 - Joshua Franzos/H Magazine; 2014 - Nick Childers/PublicSource; 2018 - Ryan Loew and Kay Procyk/PublicSource; 2020 - Ryan Loew/PublicSource; 2022 - Ryan Loew, Nick Childers, TyLisa C. Johnson, Natasha Vicens/PublicSource & Fern Hollow Bridge photo courtesy Tracy Baton)