A new website for in-depth, investigative journalism is getting underway in Southwestern Pennsylvania. PublicSource.org
would like to be the ProPublica for the region as an independent, nonprofit news source. The venture is being launched with a $253,000 grant from the Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and $325,000 from The Pittsburgh Foundation
To ensure complete independence and impartiality, the site will be managed by Pittsburgh Filmmakers in Oakland. News will focus on issues surrounding air and water quality and the environment, government and politics, health and business. A soft launch is planned for Aug. 1, says Charlie Humphrey, executive director of Filmmakers.
The decision to launch the new media source came about through a series of discussions with TPF revolving around concerns about the future of journalism in an era when newspapers are getting smaller and smaller, Humphrey explains.
"This is not to say that newspapers aren't doing a good job. They're doing a very good job, but there's only so much they can do with the shrinking space," he says. "Like Filmmakers, this news initiative will be entirely independent, and not beholden to any particular interests, political or otherwise."
Three key people have been hired to develop PublicSource. Sharon Walsh of The Lexington Herald-Leader
will take the helm as editor. An award-winning investigative reporter and editor, Walsh previously worked for The Philadelphia Inquirer
and The Washington Post;
she was nominated four times by The Post
for a Pulitzer Prize.
Sandy St. Louis will serve as communications director and Alexandra Kanik is developing the website. St. Louis formerly worked for Frontline
in Boston. Kanik, a graphic designer, works with non-profit organizations and Filmmakers, designing and developing websites.
A distinguishing feature of PublicSource will be its ability to leverage other news sources in the region and generate plenty of content, Humphrey says. To that extent, PublicSource will partner with Pop City, Essential Media's new 90.5 FM and the Post-Gazette.
"We are part of a bold and innovative movement across the United States to safeguard investigative community-oriented news," said Grant Oliphant, TPF President and CEO, in a issued statement. "Independence and impartiality are critical requirements for the successful and credible operation of our online news service and Pittsburgh Filmmakers is an ideal partner, providing a resourceful base from which this initiative will continue to develop and grow."
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Charlie Humphrey, Pittsburgh Filmmakers