Community Issues

Creating an Oasis in Today's News Deserts

Bridge Pittsburgh Media Partnership is convening local workshops to explore the challenges and opportunities for communities that have lost their local news outlets.


Across the country, a new kind of climate change is affecting access to critical local information. So called "news deserts" are forming in communities that have lost their local newspapers and other media outlets as the news industry undergoes a dramatic disruption. As advertisers move to digital and social media outlets and readers and viewers switched their attention of digital news feeds, small local publishers have lost the revenue that enabled them to pursue and publish important local news. One by one, these "mom and pop" newspapers have gone out of business, leaving local communities without a source of news about the issues, politics, and ideas that most closely affect them.

One organization, The Pittsburgh Bridge Media Partnership , is aiming to bring life back to these deserted news climates. With the support of The Heinz Endowments and the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, the Partnership is hoping to build a stronger local news ecosystem by empowering citizen journalists to report responsibly on their communities.

The Partnership has made significant inroads in McKees Rocks. During an event held earlier this month, citizen journalists gathered in support of Gazette 2.0, the revival of the area's Gazette newspaper that ceased publication 2017. During the Saturday afternoon workshop, residents noted that regional media tend to focus on the negative stories happening in their community, and brainstormed ways to bring under-reported good news to attention, according to Andrew Conte who leads the project out of Point Park University's Center for Media Innovation.

Throughout April and into May, the Partnership is holding "listening sessions" to better identify resources and opportunities to revitalize local news, and to begin the process of grooming local residents to act as "citizen journalists". Upcoming sessions include:

  • California. 6:30-8 pm, Tuesday, April 23. California Borough Building, 225 Third Street, California, PA 15419. Organized by Pam DelVerne and Jeff Helsel, of California University of Pennsylvania.
  • Homewood. 6-7:30 pm, Tuesday, April 30. Homewood Library, 7101 Hamilton Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15208. Organized by Elwin Green, Homewood Nation.
  • Young people. 4:30-6:30 pm, Monday, May 6. Saturday Light Brigade's studio, Children's Museum, Northside, 10 Children's Way, 15212. Organized by Kristina Marusic, Environmental Health News; Kristin DeLuca, Point Park University; Larry Berger, Saturday Light Brigade; Jennifer Synder-Duch, Carlow University.

To attend one of these community events, please RSVP by emailing CMI@PointPark.edu.

A culminating event will take place Wednesday, May 22, at the Workman's Benevolent Union in Deutschtown? RSVP here .

How can you start something good?
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