Today was without a doubt the hardest.
Just yesterday, Millvale Music Festival — the last large Pittsburgh music fest to have a date still listed on this year's calendar — finally announced it was postponing to 2021. This morning, 61 new confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in Allegheny County. And this afternoon, months after launching a membership campaign, after working day and night to bring you more stories than we've ever put out before, after putting out new products as way of trying to generate additional funds we lost because of events and businesses closing their doors and discontinuing advertising, Pittsburgh City Paper faced a day we've been trying to avoid since the pandemic first began, a day none of us ever wanted to see.
Today, we had to bring company-wide cuts in order to ensure that our paper survives post-COVID. The hits are devastating, and they will be noticeable. For the most part, though, we are optimistic they will largely be temporary.
There's no denying it. Our editorial furloughs are huge.
They include managing editor Alex Gordon and senior arts writer Amanda Waltz, and I honestly don't know how we're going to survive the next month without them.
Alex is the main copy editor on almost all of our stories, and our content is going to suffer immensely without him here. I'm very worried errors are going to slip by. I'm worried weaker stories are going to pass by without him. Actually, I know weaker stories are going to get posted without him. He's an incredible story editor and story teller. His own story on the Pittsburgh Muslim community celebrating Ramadan during coronavirus is still one of my personal favorites from the last few months. He's funny as hell, too. God, writing this fucking sucks, man.
As our senior arts writer, Amanda hasn't been able to write about the arts and culture scene nearly as much as she would have liked to over the past few months, but just this week, she was able to preview an exhibit at the Heinz History Center. She's also done such an amazing job switching gears to covering news stories like writing about a local nail salon accused of racist remarks, and she just wrote a heartwarming tribute in memory of her friend, Jeffrey "Boosie" Bolden, a literary figure highly loved in Pittsburgh who passed away earlier this week.
More temporary furloughs announced today include our events and marketing coordinator, and two graphic designers. Our sales and events sponsorship manager had already turned in his two weeks and was going to be replaced with a new Digital Advertising Strategist. That position is now on hold.
I'm writing all this out to ask you, readers, to help me make sure Alex, Amanda, and the rest of our furloughed staff come back ASAP. I'm pretty much begging you to keep reading. Keep supporting us. I'm asking you to please forgive us a little over the next month for our inevitable spelling errors that slip through, and to let us know if you notice a problem so we can fix it as quickly as we can.
All of these furloughs were based only on financial reasons, and not for any of these folks' performances. These are talented employees who we want to bring back as soon as we can, and our remaining staff is going to work as hard as we possibly can to make sure we don't skip a beat in our coverage to make sure that we're still bringing you great issues and online stories because now we're fighting even harder for them too.
And if you know anyone with big foundation money or deep pockets ready to buy some ads, CALL US CALL US CALL US CALL US.
• We also had to make the really difficult decision to layoff our Digital Media Manager, Josh Oswald who in addition to his web maintenance and social media duties, also wrote the hilarious column Just Jaggin.
• Lisa Cunningham, editor in chief (that's me); Jasmine Hughes, Director of Advertising; and Kevin Shepherd, Director of Operations, will all be taking an unpaid week's vacation in July, and each will be taking a pay cut.
• While we remain committed to continuing to bring readers a weekly print product, our page counts will begin to shrink to 16 pages starting with our July 1 issue unless we can sell more advertising. (If you are a business who needs advertising, we're getting more positive feedback than ever from readers, I swear. But we need your ad dollars to keep going. We are not pay to play, so no — I will not write about your business if you place an ad, but our ad director Jasmine Hughes is amazing, and she will take care of you. Email her! firstname.lastname@example.org)
• We are asking anyone who is able to continue to support us in the following ways:
- Consider becoming a member: Pittsburgh City Paper's Membership Campaign (It includes perks like a free T-shirt and a photo print from our photographer, but some members have asked us if requesting no perks would save us money and it actually does. So if you become a member and would like to request no perks, please email email@example.com because to be perfectly honest, any little bit helps us right now.)
- Purchase Pittsburgh Kitchens J'eet Jet? Cookbook (half of proceeds go to 412 Food Rescue)
- Purchase Pittsburgh City Paper's Over-the-Top Completely Ridiculous Yinzerffic Coloring Book (half of proceeds get split evenly between the 35 local artists who illustrated the artwork inside the coloring book)
- Purchase a Woke Commie Rag T-shirt (proceeds benefit both City Paper and local print shop CommonWealth Press)
- Purchase a 1-Year Subscription to Pittsburgh City Paper for $250
- Purchase a 6-Month Subscription to Pittsburgh City Paper for $150
- Purchase a 6-Week Subscription to Pittsburgh City Paper for $32
Thank you from the bottom of all of our hearts for your continued support, but I cannot stress this enough. In addition to people supporting our editorial product by reading us, we also need financial support and our door (email, phones, pockets) are open for ideas.