It's Best of Pittsburgh
If you're rolling your eyes a bit, hear me out. You think these things are rigged, right? You think advertising controls the winners? You're tired of the same people winning every year? Or, you've just seen too many of these, and you're bored with them?
I've been working at Pittsburgh City Paper
since 1997. This is my 23RD STRAIGHT YEAR OF THESE THINGS, people! So believe me when I say we've done everything we possibly can to bring new life to our poll this year to bring some energy, and I gotta be honest. I'm kinda psyched.
This is your
issue, the one issue of the year we get to give control of the content to our readers, and we've tried really hard to make this year's poll more inclusive than ever to help ensure that more people and communities feel welcomed and represented in our poll.
Our nomination process starts today and lasts until July 22. Start off by nominating your favorite Pittsburghers in as many categories as you'd like, then check back on Aug. 8 to vote for the final round. (Don’t worry, we’ll remind you.)
Here are some of the changes we've made this year:
New elimination policy:
We will eliminate and immediately disqualify any nomination that we discover to have posted any harmful defamatory racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, or transphobic commentary on social media or elsewhere. Pittsburgh City Paper does not condone this kind of behavior in our own staff, our contributors, and we will not accept anyone who posts these viewpoints in any of our polls effective immediately.
New music categories:
You asked, and we listened. Last year, we heard a lot of feedback about problematic music categories
that were left over from years ago, and our music writer Jordan Snowden took time developing new categories. For example, we took readers' suggestions and split up old combined categories like Jazz and Blues and gave them each their own categories this year, and added new genres like Electronic and World Music. Plus, we added new categories like Legacy Performer and Legacy Band, in hopes that readers will vote for their favorite established Pittsburgh celebrity musicians in those categories, and give rising stars a chance in the other categories. (It is, however, always up to the readers to interpret the categories their own ways. So if people still vote for The Clarks as best Pop Band, please remember: WE TRIED.)
More inclusive categories:
We aimed to add more inclusive categories this year, in terms of adding in more diversity. You'll find new categories like Best Venue for Diverse Musical Acts in the Culture and Nightlife
section; Best Black-Owned Restaurant and Best International Grocery Store in the Food and Drink
section; and Best Black-Owned Hair Salon, Best Black-Owned Barber Shop, Best Women-Owned Business, Best LGBTQ-Owned Business, and Best Person of Color-Owned Business in the Goods and Services
Reader Submitted Categories:
And, because chances are high we have missed some important categories, we're asking for your help. For one week only, I'm opening my email up for readers to send over Best of Pittsburgh
category suggestions, pertaining to diversity and inclusivity. What did we miss? Please reach out and email me
and let us know. (If you write "BEST OF SUBMISSION" in your Subject Line, that'd be a huge help.) The deadline for category suggestions is next Wed., July 1 at 9 a.m. We will be adding 10 new reader-submitted categories to our official poll next Wednesday at noon, which will still give all of our readers three full weeks to nominate folks in these new categories.
Bonus: Answers to that top paragraph:
• No, the poll isn't rigged.
• No, advertising doesn't control the winners. (Anyone can buy an advertisement on our website or a "Vote for me!" ad on a Best of Pittsburgh voting page, but no one can buy a vote.)
• We often switch up the categories from year to year to try to keep things fresh, so the same people don't keep winning year after year, but sometimes people just really, really love what they love. I'm really feeling optimistic, though, that by adding some new categories, we're going to see some new faces.
Our theme for this year's Best of Pittsburgh is City of Champions, but not in the way everyone typically uses that term. Sure, we dig our sports teams as much as the next person, but even more so, we wanted to recognize that the champions in Pittsburgh are also the folks performing on local stages, serving up our meals, and creating amazing artwork on gallery walls. There are so many champions in our city, and we can't wait to see who you choose.