Using grants totaling $578,000, the Pittsburgh Foundation this summer will launch an on-line initiative "to preserve and strengthen the delivery of local news and information." Foundation President and CEO Grant Oliphant says the initiative will offer in-depth reports on "key issues impacting the Pittsburgh region and cultivating broad community involvement."
The Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provided a $253,000 grant and the Pittsburgh Foundation is adding $325,000. Oliphant says management of the initiative is being transferred to the Pittsburgh Filmmakers group.
“Independence and impartiality are critical requirements for the successful and credible operation of our on-line news service and Pittsburgh Filmmakers is an ideal partner, providing a resourceful base from which this initiative will continue to develop and grow."
He said historically the place where people went to get the most information about substantive issues has been newspapers, but surveys today about where people get news show they go to television, online resources and radio.
According to Oliphant, this venture will seek to work closely with regional partners in the mainstream broadcasting and print media, and initially will use a core of independent freelance journalists. He says when you think of news, Pittsburgh is doing better at least superficially than a lot of counterpart communities across the country....
"We still have WDUQ, we still have 2 newspapers. We've got some robust news presence in the community still. But I think the leaders of all of those organizations will admit that in Pittsburgh what we're experiencing is a hollowing out of our ability to go deep on substantive issues."
He says this initiative is not intended as a replacement for existing media. The project will begin with 2 full-time employees--an editor and a web content manager.