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2020 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Micro Newsroom winner

PublicSource

 

About the Project

We are living through a moment of reckoning in America, experiencing ‘a pandemic within a pandemic.’ The biggest health story in our lifetime is happening alongside the rise of the biggest civil rights movement since the 1950s. These stories are breaking not just in Washington, D.C. but also, and mainly, in cities and small towns where local journalism outlets like PublicSource have stepped in to play a pivotal role.

The year of 2020 is proving to be the most challenging for us at PublicSource. We are a team of a dozen people, serving the population of almost 120,000. We have reimagined how a pandemic can be covered through essential breaking news reporting, community voices, podcasts and more in-depth accountability pieces. For example, our reporting contributed to the local health department being more proactive in reporting race breakdowns of COVID-19 cases in our county.

Amid the Black Lives Matter protests, we’ve reported on demonstrations, documented use of force, evaluated the defunding reforms and offered our platform to local voices calling for accountability and change.

What’s unique about PublicSource is that we’ve been covering institutional racism for the past four years, before it became a trendy topic. It’s is THE story. We report, live and study in one of the most segregated cities in America.

It hasn’t been easy. Our publication experienced gaslighting, threats and straight accusations for doing ‘irresponsible journalism,’ being extremist with our coverage of racism and accused by local politicians for being a platform for “people who do not deserve it.” But that hasn’t stopped us.

PublicSource inspires critical thinking and bold ideas through anti-racist journalism rooted in facts, diverse voices and pursuit of transparency. We tell stories for a better Pittsburgh.

The story of Pittsburgh is often a tale of two cities. For some, it is a city that appears on all the best cities lists and appeals to tech companies with a “low” cost of living; a city reimagined as a hub for “eds and meds” with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

For many, this Pittsburgh doesn’t exist. Pittsburgh is a city with along history of racism that struggled after the collapse of the steel industry. In 2019, it was found to be in the middle 50% livability for white residents, but near the bottom for Black residents compared to similar cities.

PublicSource uses our platform to help our audience understand these inequities, solve the necessities of their lives and improve their community.

We produced “The True Cost of Court Debt,” with a solutions journalism angle. One of these solutions focused on a national initiative on fine and fee reform. After reading our article, a local county councilwoman applied to the initiative and Allegheny County was accepted as one of 10 places selected to participate.

In 2020, PublicSource received the Local Media Association award for best website by a news organization with under 200,000 unique visitors per month.

Over the last year, we’ve received support from nearly 1,000 individual members and philanthropic support from 22 foundations and partners.