Each day at PublicSource we ask: How can we better serve residents of the Pittsburgh region through journalism?

As we continue to write more about communities in the Pittsburgh area, our goal is to remain transparent about our journalistic mission and intentions. 

In 2022 and beyond, we’re working to build connections with more of the region’s communities and foster new conversations about how we live. That’s why you may have noticed more PublicSource stories outside of the city limits and based in McKeesport and Wilkinsburg lately. 

Midtown Plaza in McKeesport. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Our journalism is a two-way street, where we invite the community to let us know what stories matter most to them. Many of the stories we’ve written come from our readers. 

We cherish the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with people in the region. Those talks lead to our best work — public-service journalism that drives change in policy and mindsets. 

This is the journalism we hope to bring to McKeesport and Wilkinsburg and to other communities moving forward. Our region is highly fragmented (you can learn more about that by signing up for our email course). There are a lot of shared issues and concerns, but those boundary lines can make a difference in what residents are trying to figure out and who is accountable.

As part of a project focused on improving understanding of local governance and its impact on communities, PublicSource selected to focus on Wilkinsburg and McKeesport. Why?

Prior to this enhanced focus, PublicSource has included Wilkinsburg in its coverage on several issues, most notably on housing and policing. Amid the debate over whether Wilkinsburg should be annexed by Pittsburgh, we received several requests to explain the complex process and concerns being raised.

Wilkinsburg Public Library. (Source: www.wilkinsburgpa.gov)

As for McKeesport, we made contacts in the city and learned about several dynamic issues faced by the residents and its government while reporting out another story on housing conditions.

The bottom line is that we hope to engage more intentionally with more communities and work to earn trust as we tell stories that matter to the community. 

We want to engage. We want to discuss. And we want to create public-service journalism based on the meaningful interactions we have with you. 

This coverage is funded, in part, by the American Press Institute (we explain more below) but the effort is directed by PublicSource reporters, editors and audience submissions.

Here are three more things to know about why we’re so focused on McKeesport and Wilkinsburg and what our mission is:

*Grant-funded local journalism: Our newsroom was one of 10 local news organizations across the country that received funding from the Local News Ideas-to-Action fund, an initiative by the American Press Institute. With the funding, our goal is to learn and understand more about the information needs of McKeesport and Wilkinsburg as they pertain to the local government and the community at large. Then, use what we learn to create relevant and useful coverage for residents. 

In short, we want to fill news gaps and offer content that helps you live better. 

Stories, like this one about how ARPA funding will help McKeesport launch new programs and this one about Wilkinsburg street sweeping, were both made possible through the grant, which we note at the bottom of our stories. 

*More news you can use: As we consider the changing media landscape of our region, we want to serve more communities with our journalism. We know the reality of our area’s news media landscape. Sometimes, as a resident, it can be hard to know where to go to get the information you need. PublicSource wants to meet you where you are. We want to hear from you! Tell us your questions, share what needs fixing or investigating.

*This is the beginning: We hope this early effort will be a springboard to further understanding and better connection. We can’t do this kind of journalism without you being willing to share your stories and experiences. If you look at our staff page, you’ll see we are not a huge team that can plant newsroom bureaus in every area we cover or be present at every meeting, but we hope to build valuable relationships with the goal of providing you with meaningful local journalism through 2022 and beyond. 

Read some of our Wilkinsburg and McKeesport coverage:

This fact-based local reporting drives impact and creates change. Help power that impact.

James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” PublicSource exists to help the Pittsburgh region face its realities and create opportunities for change. When we shine a light on inequity in our region, like the “completely unacceptable” conditions in low-income housing in McKeesport, things change. When we ask questions about policymakers’ decisions, like how Allegheny County is handling COVID-19 safety for its employees, things change. When we push for transparency on issues that affect the public, like in the use of facial recognition software by Pittsburgh police, things change.

It takes a lot of time, skill and resources to produce journalism like this. Our stories are always made available for free so that they can benefit the most people, regardless of ability to pay. But as an independent, nonprofit newsroom, we count on donations from our readers to support this crucial work. Can you make a contribution of any amount (or better yet, set up a recurring monthly gift) to help ensure we can continue to report on what matters and tell stories for a better Pittsburgh?

TyLisa C. Johnson

TyLisa C. Johnson is the Audience Engagement Editor at PublicSource. She’s passionate about telling compelling human stories that intersect with complex issues affecting marginalized groups. Before joining...