No matter who or where you are in the Pittsburgh region, when you visit publicsource.org, we want you to find something to help you live better. We know that’s not an easy feat in such a diverse, fragmented and complex region.
If we are to do meaningful, in-depth journalism, showing the richness and fullness of our communities is critical.
We know that media outlets sometimes get it wrong. Community members have told us that. We’ve witnessed it. At a recent listening session, several participants of color simply asked the media to recognize they are people who lead regular lives. What a straightforward request that many media entities have failed at for so long.
To create journalism that gives people information to make better, informed decisions and live better lives, we must embrace all communities. That’s why it’s vital to do work that embraces communities of color and other oft-marginalized groups.
Building bridges is hard, and media sometimes resists evolution. But we are committed to charting a path for equitable, inclusive local journalism that represents our community. As the Pittsburgh region’s media landscape shifts with changes in our society, PublicSource is ready to cover the news you care about.
With the help of the American Press Institute, we’ve reinvigorated our plans to better connect with communities of color and other traditionally marginalized populations.
This past year, PublicSource participated in a project with the American Press Institute dedicated to transforming how local newsrooms connect with communities of color. We went on this journey with four other newsrooms: Pittsburgh City Paper, the Tribune-Review, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pitt News.
As part of this project, we invited API into our newsroom. They interviewed each member of our staff. They reviewed our articles. They interviewed community members. Then, they told us what they found. Some of it was disheartening. Much of it we knew. All of it we’re working to address, fortunately now with strong guidance and support.
API found common themes across the five newsrooms surveyed, including lack of diversity among reporters and editors and heavy workloads that can lead to burnout.
For many reasons, as documented by studies, Pittsburgh media struggles with inclusive and diverse practices both inside and outside of its newsrooms.
We see the API project as a powerful opportunity to collaborate alongside our media peers to achieve more diverse, reflective news coverage.
Our newsroom is uniquely positioned in Pittsburgh. We’re open-minded, nimble, digital and people-funded. Much of this is reflected in the results of API’s review. As a small team, we work collaboratively to produce regular in-depth journalism, but the workload can lead our team to burnout. We’ve formed an audience engagement team to further our mission to connect with the community, but it’s taken time to build the foundation and formalize the processes needed to take our audience engagement to the next level.
While some of API’s takeaways captured more challenging parts of our ongoing work, we’re optimistic that much of the evaluation was aligned with our longstanding internal goals.
Opening our newsroom up to inspection and absorbing the evaluations has led us to further define our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts.
You’ll see it in action in (at least) these ways:
Ours is a city of many neighborhoods. It’s full of places where connection is building and people are working to move their communities forward. All PublicSource employees will work together to build maps of the people and places creating positive momentum in communities. These maps will inform our work, help us understand our knowledge gaps, and deepen our knowledge of a community and the issues impacting its residents. To start, we’re charting a path to engagement in three newsroom-selected neighborhoods: Wilkinsburg, Beechview and Perry South. We plan to show up in communities to strike up conversations with residents that could shape our understanding of local communities and coverage of their issues.
Community advisory group
We’re firm on wanting to build a two-way street that allows us regular, honest dialogue about current events, issues and media coverage in the Pittsburgh region. Feedback is a gift. Our efforts include forming a community advisory group of diverse members from all sections of the region to inform our staff, our newsroom coverage and our engagement efforts through regular feedback. We plan to pilot the group later this year.
Although internal, we expect this long-term commitment will continue to move our organization in the direction of being reflective of the communities we serve and employing best practices for interaction with people of all identities, experiences and backgrounds.
Among other initiatives, we will be formalizing diversity tracking of job candidates, interns and staffers to better analyze our ability to retain and attract diverse talent. We must do this in a way that is inclusive and allows people to self-identify as they wish, so we are researching best practices.
This year is also the first that we are working with each member of the team to find a mentor outside of PublicSource. We want each person to use this opportunity in a way that is best for them — be it for issues of well-being to specific skills to overall career development. We want our team to know we see and care for them as whole people and that work-life balance is a priority.
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