City, county leaders support robust journalism in Southwestern Pennsylvania

Kimberly Palmiero
July 3, 2024
02 min

Two of the highest elected leaders in Allegheny County support robust local news to support democracy and strengthen communities.

“Journalism should be about the knowledge of each community that you can write about or speak about that entails exactly what is going on, where people are going, and writes the truth about the perspective of that neighborhood right now,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey.

“Without that level of journalism – which is local – then we don’t have the right journalism. We’ll always have misinformation, not real information,” he added.

Gainey spoke as part of a series of civic leader videos to promote the inaugural Newsapalooza local news summit, Sept. 26-28. The event – a celebration of local news, is both an entry point for the public to be part of the news and a kickoff for the Next Generation Newsroom that will begin reporting in the fall.

Next Generation Newsroom is a teaching newsroom springing from the Center of Media Innovation at Point Park University. It will produce local enterprise reporting for news outlets in Southwestern Pennsylvania, train early-career journalists, and bolster citizen journalism.

In January, Allegheny County Chief Executive Sara Innamorato spoke at the CMI during a community-wide discussion about Next Generation Newsroom, Restoring the Fourth Estate.

“Journalism - especially local journalism - it is vital to a transparent and accessible government in a thriving democracy,” Innamorato said during the event. “I don’t always love when I get that TV ambush interview and a camera shoved in my face, but I know it’s necessary, it’s necessary for an open government, it’s necessary for a thriving democracy, it’s necessary for me to be held accountable as your elected leader in Allegheny County.

She noted that there are many former journalists in the ranks of county government, a fact that speaks to job losses in the media industry.

“As a community, we must invest in early-career journalists,” she said. She noted while it’s a “great add” to local government, it’s a loss to the profession, where institutional knowledge of community issues is essential.

In Southwestern Pennsylvania, the region’s largest daily newspapers have cut positions in recent years. It is the result, in part, of disruption in the media industry that’s been on display nationwide.

Across the U.S., more than half the counties have limited access – or none – to local news, according to a report by Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. And it’s on that level that people can miss information vital to their communities.  

For example, Innamorato – herself a former state representative, spoke of the need for a strong press to “vet local candidates” for office because voters depend on it – relying on the press to “pressure-test candidates.”

To learn more about Newsapalooza, click here.