What The Reporter means to me - What about you?
November 24, 2020
Recently, I was sitting in a coffee shop having a conversation about what was happening with The South Pittsburgh Reporter. They had noticed, as most of our readers, the number of pages has gone down and we occasionally take a week off.
I explained The Reporter still had a strong and loyal print readership and the online edition sometimes outpaces the print edition in readers. The number of papers we distribute has declined somewhat in recent years, mostly due to distribution sites of longtime customers quitting business and other sites where another newspaper was throwing our papers away until we paid them a fee for placing our papers in the store.
As the conversation continued, I was asked if I knew what The Reporter meant to the readers. I sometimes get calls or emails from readers asking a question and then responding to “keep up the good work” or that they “appreciate” what we do, but I’ve never asked, before.
So, now I’m going to ask. The South Pittsburgh Reporter has been printing for 80 years in South Side and the Hilltop neighborhoods. Over the years, we’ve printed what has happened in the neighborhoods from the ball scores of local teams, to the development of the SouthSide Works, births, deaths, graduations and dean’s lists. We’ve covered the news that’s important to the people who live in the neighborhoods.
I’d like to hear from our readers, why is The Reporter important to you. Please drop me a note, send a letter, put it in an email or fax. Our address is P.O. Box 4285, Pittsburgh, PA 15203; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; and, for those who still fax: 412-488-8011.
I’ll get things started.
The Reporter has carried importance for me at different times in my life. My earliest memories of it are when I was 12 or 13 and wasn’t able to attend school for a year and required a home-bound teacher. My mother, Roberta Smith, was the executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce at the time and worked out of an office in the 1400 block of E. Carson Street that was shared with The Reporter. I had class in one of the back offices twice a week.
A few years later in my teens, my friends and I would deliver The Reporter to the stores along E. Warrington Avenue for $6 a week, earning enough for pizza at DeSalla’s in South Side or ice cream at Page’s.
By the early mid-70s my mother had become editor of The Reporter and I was considering where to go to college and what I would major in. I had enjoyed literature and creative writing in high school and thought I would like to be an English teacher. My parents thought if I were interested in writing, a career in journalism would be better and off I went to attend Point Park College for Journalism & Communications.
The Reporter provided me another opportunity when I was required to complete several internships to graduate. My graduation from Point Park College coincided with my mother acquiring The Reporter and becoming editor and publisher in 1979. She said I could work at the paper until I found a “real job.” I’m still looking.
From 1979 until 2000 I worked alongside my mother, editing copy, reporting on community meetings and events, selling ads, laying out and pasting up, delivering the paper and whatever needed to be done to get the paper out each week. It provided opportunities to go and do things I normally wouldn’t have had an opportunity to. It also required working many evenings, weekends and holidays, when necessary, to meet the ever-present deadlines.
When my mother retired in 2000, I became editor and publisher, we had just started experimenting with doing our own desktop publishing. We found computerization didn’t really save us much time in the paste up process, but it allowed us to make changes and be more flexible about deadlines.
My position as editor and publisher allowed me to get more involved with things, something I had always told myself I would never do. Growing up with a mother who was always involved in community and volunteering in her free time from an early age, I wasn’t interested in a life that had no free time. By that time, I had already joined the Board of Directors of The Brashear Association and wasn’t interested in giving up more free time.
How soon that would change. I soon learned the best way to know what was going on in the neighborhoods was to be involved.
In the early 2000s I added the Board of Directors of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, later serving as its president for several years. From there, I became a member of the Board of the South Side Local Development Company and also served as the Chamber representative on the South Side Planning Forum.
In 2003, I started a second newspaper, The South Hills Reporter, covering Beechview, Brookline and Dormont, while moving The Reporter’s offices to E. Warrington Avenue – where the newspaper’s first offices were located. The South Hills Reporter was short-lived, only publishing for about a year, but the experience was interesting to say the least.
The move to Allentown opened up other opportunities to get involved, with the Allentown Main Street Committee, the Allentown Civic Association and the Allentown Business Association. Shortly after arriving in Allentown, I began working to combine the three organizations into what is now the Allentown Community Development Corp. (ACDC) where I served in a variety of Board positions including president.
I would later join the Board of the Hilltop Alliance during a contentious time in its history. I like to think I helped stabilize the organization, give it focus and make it the success it is today.
What does all this have to do with The Reporter? Without The Reporter I probably would have chosen a different life course, made different life choices and taken a different path.
So, what’s your connection to The South Pittsburgh Reporter? How has it affected your life and continues to affect now? Let me know. The addresses again are: P.O. Box 4285, Pittsburgh, PA 15203; Email: email@example.com; and, for those who still fax: 412-488-8011.