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No news is bad news

Pittsburgh City Paper launches membership campaign to keep newsroom operating at full speed

click to enlarge The staff at Pittsburgh City Paper: (front row, l-r) Abbie Adams, Jordan Snowden, Ryan Deto, Jared Wickerham; (second row, l-r) Lisa Cunningham, Hannah Lynn, Maggie Weaver, Bryer Blumenschein, Jasmine Hughes; (back row, l-r) Amanda Waltz, Jeff Schreckengost, Kaitlin Oliver, Zack Durkin, Josh Oswald, Josie Norton, Justin Matase, Alex Gordon, and Kevin Shepherd. Missing from photo: Blake Lewis and Jeff Engbarth - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The staff at Pittsburgh City Paper: (front row, l-r) Abbie Adams, Jordan Snowden, Ryan Deto, Jared Wickerham; (second row, l-r) Lisa Cunningham, Hannah Lynn, Maggie Weaver, Bryer Blumenschein, Jasmine Hughes; (back row, l-r) Amanda Waltz, Jeff Schreckengost, Kaitlin Oliver, Zack Durkin, Josh Oswald, Josie Norton, Justin Matase, Alex Gordon, and Kevin Shepherd. Missing from photo: Blake Lewis and Jeff Engbarth
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Coronavirus is a jagoff.

As I’m writing this, COVID-19 has closed all of Pittsburgh’s bars and restaurants. (Even Jack’s is closed, so even conspiracy theorists now know it’s a pandemic.) We’re being advised to avoid events with 10 or more people, and all non-essential businesses have been asked to suspend operations. But know what’s not a non-essential business and staying open? “Liquor stores?” you say? Sorry yinz, they just closed too. It's us, your favorite local altweekly.

Our entire city is facing the devastating results of the pandemic, and Pittsburgh City Paper is no exception. In addition to all of us at City Paper feeling the weight of losing out on all of the things we love to see and do in our communities ourselves, I’m gonna be totally honest: City Paper is in trouble. Times were tough for media even before this hit, and now? Let’s just say I recently got my medical marijuana card, and I’m heading to one of our city’s best dispensaries first thing tomorrow morning.


click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The majority of City Paper’s revenue comes from advertisements placed by local restaurants, bars, venues, businesses, and events that have been forced to close. This is revenue that keeps our staff employed and allows City Paper to deliver our print issue and online product for free. Without these advertisements, we are unsure if we’ll be able to keep going at the speed so many of you have told us you’ve come to love and expect.

We are launching a membership campaign today in order to help fight some of these losses, with the hope that readers who depend on our daily coverage of local news, arts, music, food, and entertainment recognize the importance in the work we do to keep the city informed and want us to continue.
click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Altweeklies across the United States are shuttering their print productions. We’re going to keep ours going as long as we’re able. Some have laid off a large part of their staff. We really hope it doesn’t come to that here. We are not a large company. At the beginning of this year, we moved into a new office at half the size of the old one we worked out of for 20 years in order to condense and save money. City Paper employs a full-time staff of 20 writers, editors, artists, and salespersons, and every single one of us cares deeply about our city. You’re here for Ryan Deto’s bike lane rants. You love Hannah Lynn’s film reviews. Maggie Weaver helps you find out where to eat. Jordan Snowden brings you the music. Amanda Waltz is here with the arts. Our newsroom runs independently of our parent company and allows us to bring Pittsburgh local news from an alternative angle that you won’t find anywhere else.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
Last year, we more than doubled our online coverage and increased our traffic twofold, and we plan on continuing to deliver important news while we all get through this pandemic. We’re also working on bringing you content that will help keep you entertained while you’re stuck at home waiting this out. And we want to be here when everything gets back to normal too. But to do so, we need your help.

If you’ve got an extra buck or two to spare, we’d greatly appreciate it. And we know, times are tough everywhere. We totally get it. If you’ve been hit hard by this pandemic, we’re not asking you to contribute right now. (We’ve been covering other industries hit hard this week too, with stories on local arts communities raising funds and virtual tips for service workers.) But if you are in a good spot, we’d love your support. (Click here to sign up: Pittsburgh City Paper Membership Page.) Our team even threw in a few perks to get things rolling, and we hope to include some larger membership thank you gifts soon too. (This membership campaign is something we were planning to launch later this year, but the current spike in lost ad revenue was too great to hold off any longer.)


click to enlarge CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
When I left our Downtown office last night and walked home to the North Side, everyone was social distancing, the streets were empty, and I was transported back in time to the ‘90s when I was a student at Point Park College (yes, it was just a small college, not a University yet), back before the Cultural District exploded into the huge arts and culture hub it is today. On my way home, I stopped and took a breath in the Prismatica public art pop-up park just past Penn Avenue — it’s outside! and still open! — my one moment of sanity in a whirlwind of a week.

I hope all of you stay safe and keep finding those moments of sanity in the coming weeks. And that we kick this coronavirus jagoff properly in the ass. Together.

— Lisa Cunningham, editor in chief

On behalf of the entire Pittsburgh City Paper staff, including: Jasmine Hughes, director of advertising; Kevin Shepherd, director of operations; Alex Gordon, managing editor; Ryan Deto, senior writer; Amanda Waltz, senior writer; Hannah Lynn, staff writer; Jordan Snowden, staff writer; Maggie Weaver, staff writer; Jared Wickerham, staff photographer; Josh Oswald, digital media manager; Abbie Adams, editorial designer; Josie Norton, graphic designer: Jeff Schreckengost, graphic designer; Blake Lewis, events and sponsorship manager; Kaitlin Oliver, senior account executive; Zack Durkin, sales representative; Bryer Blumenschein, events and marketing coordinator; Justin Matase, business manager; and Jeff Engbarth, circulation manager.

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