Pittsburgh business leaders stand behind supporting local news initiatives

Kimberly Palmiero
July 3, 2024
02 min

Five of the region’s biggest business leaders are throwing their support behind the Center for Media Innovation’s latest initiatives by saying they see urgency in supporting local journalism for southwestern Pennsylvania’s communities.

Four organizations – Duquesne Light Company (DLC), Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Highmark / Allegheny Health Network, and UPMC – are contributing $10,000 each to support the Next Generation Newsroom and its annual celebration of local journalism, Newsapalooza, Sept. 26-28.

Another, KDKA, has come on as a media sponsor by providing support from its newsroom.  

Next Generation Newsroom will produce daily enterprise reporting, train future journalists, and engage residents as citizen journalists, as well as create more sustainable career paths for people entering the field. The newsroom will launch this fall.  

The large-scale program through the Center of Media Innovation developed in response to years of disruption in the news industry, resulting in the closure of legacy outlets large and small, and job cuts that mean fewer journalists reporting broadly across communities.

Corporate and civic leaders supporting Next Generation Newsroom and Newsapalooza said they believe that local news is essential to having strong, informed communities.  

“Eat’n Park Restaurants have been neighborhood gathering places for 75 years, where celebrations are shared over Grilled Stickies and stories are shared over coffee,” said Trina DeMarco, director of corporate communications and community partnerships for the company.    

“We see moments of connection every day in our restaurants, and vibrant local news is a huge part of building community and strengthening connections.”    

Leaders of the region’s two largest health care systems independently came together to support elevating local news.

“Fact-based and non-biased journalism is critical to ensuring a well-informed public. A fully functioning, independent local media must be the necessary foundation for gathering and disseminating that information,” said Paul Wood, vice president and chief communications officer at UPMC. 

Highmark Health leaders agree that communities require robust, objective sources of information.

“As an organization that is committed to promoting health and wellness, we recognize that the healthiest communities are those whose populations are well informed about the world around them and how they can live their best lives within it,” said Dan Laurent, Highmark Health vice president, corporate communications.

At Duquesne Light Company, strong local news is a key customer issue, said Hollie Geitner, director of communications and brand.

“The ability to tell and share stories is foundational to a thriving and healthy community,” Geitner said. “Just like our customers rely on us to power their lives, they rely on local news for critical information about their communities, and we are dedicated to supporting the news outlets that make that possible.”

KDKA-TV also is lending its support.  

"KDKA-TV believes in the importance of local news to provide accurate and timely information about events happening here in our communities that will have an impact on our viewers' daily lives, safety and happiness," said president and general manager of KDKA-TV Chris Cotugno.  

"We support Point Park University in their efforts to envision a new model for local news and usher in the next generation of local news journalists."

Sponsors for Newsapalooza include CLA Connect, Downtown Neighbors Alliance, The International Free Expression Project, Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, the Pittsburgh Media Partnership, StudioMe, Trace Brewing, and Wigle Whiskey.  

Newsapalooza will include programs for the public, college students, high school students, and professional journalists.  

Purchase tickets to Newsapalooza now to get an early bird discount.

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