2017 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Small Newsroom finalist


About the Project

When President Trump in his announcement on U.S. withdrawal from the Paris agreement said: ““I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” his words ticked off a lot of Pittsburgers. They pointed out that the president used a “rusty metaphor,” that Pittsburgh is thriving, that it’s innovative, that the steel past is just that –the past. And then one person wrote: “Pittsburgh is also innovating in non-profit investigative journalism with @PublicSourcePA if you want to know what’s up in Western PA.”

Public Source

And that’s one of many reasons why we’re proud to nominate PublicSource in the general excellence category. We are small, but mighty. We tell untold stories. Our mission is to deliver public-service reporting & analysis and convene communities of shared interests. Thousands of people consider us as an indispensable source for dogged reporting, engaging conversations, innovative presentations and powerful storytelling.

According to community members, our work is meaningful, it drives change. Below are some of the projects we are most proud of:

  1. The “I am a black girl and…” project that over a six-month period has been covering the inequities black girls are facing in the Pittsburgh region through first-person storytelling and investigative stories; on the local level the project brought change in policies and resulted in activism.
  2. Voices Unlocked project: This series tells the stories of Pittsburgh-area residents whose life experiences have been shaped by the penal system. It includes audio segments produced in collaboration with local NPR affiliate WESA. The series will culminate with an event to celebrate their accomplishments and provide life updates.
  3. We helped residents near a fracking site test their air quality. As part of our Clearing the Air series PublicSource partnered with researchers to analyze data collected by Penn Township residents near the community’s first shale gas wells. We trained them to use air sensors that would test for chemical elements. We found that peaks were high enough to potentially cause upper respiratory problems in children, the elderly and people with asthma. As a result, Penn Township settled litigation with a local drilling company that includes a clause requiring the company to conduct air monitoring at their sites.
  4. Gun violence is a public health crisis in Pittsburgh. In just under three years, more than 8,200 shots have been heard in all corners of Pittsburgh; 155 people were killed. The city’s black communities experience an unequal share of the resulting chaos and trauma. Using police data, we built a map that allows you to type in your address and see how many gun crimes happened within one mile of your home. It’s regularly updated and has been popular on social media.
  5. What data and residents tell us about Pittsburgh’s most and least diverse neighborhoods: The newsroom dispatched to city’s neighborhoods to interview residents and the resulting stories, photos and videos led to our most pageviews in PublicSource’s history. We built an interactive Diversity Map that allowed readers to dig into how diverse their neighborhood is.