My ties to the Post-Gazette run deep. I’ve mentioned that my great-grandfather Gilbert Remley was the Executive Sports Editor, in a career that spanned 50 years and three papers.
My family was a newspaper reading family, something inherited from both my maternal and paternal lines. We ‘took’ 2-3 papers and sometimes more each day: the Post-Gazette in the morning, the Pittsburgh Press in the afternoon, the McKeesport Daily News on weekdays, and occasionally a weekly like the Valley Mirror. My mother (and father when his work shift allowed) watched the local and national news every single day without fail. This was during my childhood in the 70s and 80s. We occasionally had to stop delivery during tough financial times, but usually nonpayment was something the route managers expected when the steelworkers were on strike or layoffs were in effect.
Many an evening, I was stretched out on the living room floor reading the paper from cover to cover. I didn’t understand most of what I read and quickly learned which topics I could ask adults to explain. I loved reading the classifieds, classic columns like Heloise, Abby and Ann, as well as any type of feature. When I went to college, I subscribed to the Washington Post via a student program and did my best to keep up the tradition when I relocated to Baton Rouge (The Advocate) and then Western Kentucky (Hopkinsville New Era and the Todd County Standard) then back to Pittsburgh to just the Post-Gazette.
It really is a bit hard to believe I didn’t want to grow up to be a journalist with all this newspaper reading, isn’t it?
Anyway, between this and the refrain “your Da was a newspaperman, Susie” from my parents and grandparents, I was a bit in awe of the folks behind the bylines. We didn’t know any post-Da newspaper people who I remember. No one in the family was a writer or a journalist.
But all of this sunk in. I believed that we needed to pay attention to the news and that we should be able to trust the media, while still asking critical questions. As a political science student and a social worker, I was able to connect the dots between the news and the real world. It wasn’t even necessarily hard because it was a habit to pay attention. And things stick in your mind when you pay attention (even things that realize you can’t ask your parents to explain.)
The Post-Gazette was special because of that tie to my great-grandfather and also because it outlasted all of the others. So it is difficult to watch it derail and falter, but I addresses that in my previous post ‘Why We Won’t Cancel Our Post-Gazette Subscription’
So I took a look back at my adult relationship with the PG. If I had Post-Gazette bucket list, it would include these items
- Meeting assorted journalists in person. – Check. See photos. I still remember the first time Tony Norman responded to an email I had sent. It was glorious. I was using AOL so I don’t still have i
- . Letter to the Editor published. – It was about the PG Advice Columnist.
- Editorial published. – It was about James Harrison.
- Quoted in a newspaper article. – It was about a dog statue.
- Quoted in a paper feature. – It was about Pridefest.
- Profiled or featured in a newspaper article. – It was about illegal dumping in Manchester.
- Original content published. – It was about AMPLIFY
- Make journalist intern cry. – It was when Jennifer Graham was in the newsroom writing about Caitlin Jenner.
- Convince Post-Gazette to officially adopt any credible LGBTQ media guide. – FAIL
- Featured in a column by Tony Norman (politics) and Brian O’Neill (Pittsburghness/genealogy) – Not yet.
- Consult on an article about my Da on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his retirement and the 112th anniversary of his employment as a copy boy. (There’s a lot to his story that I don’t talk about on this blog.) – Not yet, but a very detailed list item suggesting it really matters to me?
- Be a character in a Rob Rogers cartoon. That’s what inspired this post, the realization that Brewed on Grant will never have this queer disabled lady blogger in any frame, even background. Sigh.
I still don’t aspire to be paid by the PG to do anything. I have no idea how to submit a freelance suggestion or be a stringer. I can write just fine, but there are hundreds of actual journalists trying to make a living with more to offer the community. That’s not my point.
The institution of the Post-Gazette is more than the editorial fiefdom of Keith Burris and the dividend checks John Block has on direct deposit. I don’t want that legacy to die, but that’s up to the rest of the Block family ownership to deal with as a business matter. The institution is about the reporters, cartoonists, graphic designers, carriers, and the news.
The news still matters. So my final bucket list item?
12. Not be the very last household receiving home delivery.
It is good to have a few things left to accomplish, right?
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