Here are the facts: From the nominees in the first round to the top 10 finalists in the voting round to the top three winners you’ll find in this issue, everyone in this year’s Best of Pittsburgh was decided by Pittsburgh City Paper readers.
What sets City Paper’s poll apart from others? Besides the obnoxiously large number of categories (yeah, we know — we keep trying to edit them down, but every year, we hear from readers who tell us we’ve missed some important ones), the Best of Pittsburgh is 100% determined by reader input. We use SecondStreet, an online voting platform, which automatically tabulates the results. No, City Paper staff members aren’t allowed to vote. And no, despite rumors which have existed since the poll first launched 30 years ago, no one can win a category by buying an ad. (But yes, winners are notified before this issue hits the stands and our sales team does sell them ads, which help support our local journalism throughout the rest of the year.)
What we do, though, is fact-check your noms. And we don’t just check them for spelling errors or to make sure you actually nominated Pittsburgh folks. We spend months checking each entry and eliminate any nomination we find to have posted anything racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, transphobic, or harmful to others. We also listen to your feedback and adjust the categories before the poll starts every year based on your recommendations. Did we miss a category you’d like to see next year? Spot one you’d rather we delete? Reach out and let us know. This is your poll, after all, and we aim to have each year’s poll better than the last.Why the space theme? Well, besides making this issue look cool as hell, there are space-themed events happening all over the city this year. For one, Pittsburgh is home to the Allegheny Observatory in Riverview Park and a planetarium at the Carnegie Science Center, where yinzers can dream of life in another galaxy. The Science Center also just launched a new exhibit, Sun, Earth Universe, focusing on the solar system, the universe, and “the big questions NASA is trying to answer about each.” In November, the Center will also debut its Mars: The Next Giant Leap exhibit, which explores the possibilities of traveling to and living on the Red Planet. But mostly, we were inspired by the Moonshot Museum, Pennsylvania’s first-ever space museum, opening soon in the North Side. We can’t wait to see if it ends up on next year’s winners' list.
For the past decade, there’s been nothing short of a crisis in our state capital.
More and more of Pennsylvania’s sprawling and costly bureaucracy operated without scrutiny from investigative reporters, the watchdogs tracking how our hard-earned tax dollars are spent and demanding answers from lawmakers about waste, fraud, and abuse.
Together, we can restore accountability.
Spotlight PA, a statewide and member-funded newsroom based in Harrisburg with the mission of holding the powerful in Pennsylvania to account through independent, nonpartisan investigative and public-service journalism.
Spotlight PA is an unprecedented collaboration born of the grit and determination that makes our state great, and it now provides high-quality state government and statewide reporting at no cost to more than 90 community newsrooms across Pennsylvania. And we continue to grow.
Today, we’re excited to announce an expansion to provide greater access to our independent journalism throughout Pittsburgh via a new partnership with Pittsburgh City Paper.
Spotlight PA is built on the belief that the public will support unique, high-quality investigative journalism you can’t get anywhere else. In doing so, we can build a new path forward for local news in Pennsylvania that’s sustainable and puts the community first.
If you value independent, nonpartisan journalism and want to support access to it throughout Pittsburgh, you can make a gift of any amount to Spotlight PA now at spotlightpa.org/donate
Spotlight PA’s growing team of nearly a dozen reporters includes Pennsylvania veterans and other accomplished journalists recruited from across the state and the U.S.
Spotlight PA is now the single largest statewide newsroom in Pennsylvania dedicated to producing accountability journalism about the state government and urgent statewide issues.
Our journalists are assigned to cover specific state departments, commissions, and agencies, as well as topics of statewide importance, from criminal justice to voting, economic development to politics. Many of these areas have gone without serious scrutiny for years. Spotlight PA reporters have the time, resources, and mandate to be fearless in their pursuit of the truth.
Far from just providing the news, we connect and engage with you through innovative digital storytelling, creative partnerships, community events, and more.
Financial support for Spotlight PA comes from a unique coalition of state and national funders that recognize the importance that decisions made in Harrisburg have on their communities, from Erie to Scranton, Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.
They also know and agree that our work must be independent and free from influence. Spotlight PA retains full editorial control, and our funders have no say whatsoever in which stories we pursue or how we pursue them. We do not accept anonymous donations, and all of our supporters are listed publicly at spotlightpa.org/support
Spotlight PA was formed to serve you, the public, and we want you to be a part of our efforts. Many of the best investigations start with a call or email from a concerned reader. If you have tips or suggestions for an investigation, please visit spotlightpa.org/tips to see the various secure ways you can communicate with our team.
After having lived in Pennsylvania for more than a decade, I’m proud to be leading such an ambitious effort to provide the people of this state with more of the high-quality investigative and public-service journalism we all need. Together, we can hold the powerful to account.
Christopher Baxter is the executive director and editor-in-chief of Spotlight PA
Pittsburgh City Paper is pleased to announce that Lucy Chen has been promoted to Art Director. Since being hired as an Editorial Designer at City Paper in 2021, Chen has helmed the paper's editorial design, including illustrating covers, designing the weekly editorial print pages, creating promotional images, and more.
"Lucy has been a gift to our entire company," says CP Editor in Chief Lisa Cunningham, who had a 10-year tenure as art director before being promoted to an editor's role. "I'm lucky to be able to work with someone so incredibly talented and imaginative, and I can't wait to see what she does next."
Recent City Paper projects Chen has led include designing the annual City Guide magazine, creating the logo for the company's new daily newsletter City Pigeon, and leading the space-themed design for the annual Best of Pittsburgh readers' poll. Later this year, City Paper also plans to unveil a print redesign, which Chen will be spearheading.
Chen is a 2021 graduate of the Sam Fox School for Design & Visual Arts, and a teacher at the Yanlai Dance Academy. To celebrate her promotion, City Paper asked Chen to share some of her favorite work so far, which follows in her own words:
It’s been one year since I started working at City Paper. Here are my five favorite illustrated covers of the past year.
1. Fall Guide
This cover took me the longest. When possible, I always like to design an illustration around a golden ratio. I find that it makes the composition much more interesting.
2. People of the Year
Hand lettering is one of my passions! I was so excited to draw so many letters for this cover. Nothing excites me more than a looptail "g."
3. Election Guide
Making this cover was a bit outside my comfort zone since it was all made using vectors instead of hand illustrations. I think my favorite sticker to make was the “I Voted in My PJS!”
4. Pride Issue
I used historical paintings as references for the figures for this issue. Can you guess which painting is the main girl holding the flag? (Answer at bottom of the page.)
5. Spring Guide
We'll also be hiding a pigeon in this week's print issue for you to find, plus unveiling new surprises all week long on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
@pghcitypaper our new hire has potential, if only they would stop eating out of the garbage #pittsburgh #dayinmylife #pigeon #fyp ♬ The Office (Main Theme) - TV Sounds Unlimited
Pittsburgh nonprofits help bring an incredible wealth of services to the city. They feed minds and bodies, provide housing and necessities, and help give both humans and animals opportunities for better paths forward. Pittsburgh City Paper takes pride in reporting on these much-needed community assets throughout the year and is happy to announce that one local nonprofit will be chosen as the charity of choice for this year’s Best of Pittsburgh party.
“We are excited that our editorial team added the Best Nonprofit category this year. We feel very strongly about partnering with the community and helping our nonprofits raise awareness in the city,” says Rachel Winner-Eberhardt, City Paper's advertising director. “This is giving the winner the opportunity to not only do that, but raise funds for their organization as well.”
The reader's final choice for Best Nonprofit in this year’s poll will not only be invited to the Best of Pittsburgh party, but it will be named City Paper’s nonprofit charity of choice for the event, and a portion of ticket sales will go directly to the winner.
Over 100 nonprofits have been nominated so far in the first round of this year’s Best of Pittsburgh readers poll, and there’s still time to submit your favorites. Readers can nominate once per day in the first round, which continues through June 30, and the top 10 finalists with the highest number of nominations will move on to the final voting round on Aug. 1-31.
City Paper's Best of Pittsburgh readers' poll is the alt-media company's most popular issue of the year, and the entire staff collaborates to make it the best in the region. Best of Pittsburgh is run through SecondStreet, an online poll service, to ensure that the tallies are accurate, and the editorial staff fact checks every nominee to ensure that reader submissions are error-free and placed in the correct category. Once final nominations move on to the voting round, the staff also researches every finalist and eliminates any nominee with racist, sexist, homophobic, or problematic online posts. City Paper aims to be inclusive and representative of the entire community in its reporting, and that transfers over to wanting the same for this poll.
Nearly 150,000 nominations have been submitted so far. In addition to Best Nonprofit, there were over 60 new categories added this year including Best Pet Groomer, Best Fried Chicken, Best Hangout for Teens, Best Corner Store, Best Camp for Kids, and Best Classical Ensemble.
Submit your favorites now at pghcitypaper.com/bestofpgh2022