A letter from Brian O’Neill, former guild member and retired Post-Gazette columnist

I was a newspaper reporter for 42 years, and a reporter paying union dues for the last 28 of them. I was happy to pay those dues, and not just because the union had my back. It protects our readers, too.

A journalist’s job is to print the truth. Sometimes those truths can make people uncomfortable. Sometimes powerful, uncomfortable people call the newspaper to complain. But Newspaper Guild members know their jobs will always be protected as long as they do them the right way,  that their union reps will go to bat for them if anyone tries to forget that. That backstop for fearless journalism should comfort the reader as much as it does the reporter.

The reporters at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are so dedicated to their work, to keeping the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies humming, that they’ve gone without a raise for 15 years and without a contract for 4 years. Some, like me a year ago, aged into retirement with no end of this struggle in sight. But I still subscribe because PG reporters, photographers and editors still manage to gather information about the people and problems of our hills and valleys that I can’t find anywhere else. The PG’s youth and diversity represent Western Pennsylvania in the best way. Every day, they help me understand where I live.

The struggles of the newspaper industry are well known. Traditional advertising revenue has been drained by everything from Craig’s List to the decline of department stores to Facebook and Google cannibalizing the work. Yet local newspapers have persevered, thanks to the people filling their pages. They ought to be fairly treated for their vital work. That this is even in question is unconscionable.

Brian O’Neill

Retired columnist

(Former Guild member) 

Brian O’Neill is in the back row directly behind the BL in Blocks, holding a sign that says “Honk for PG’s union” during a rally in October 2020, outside of the Duquesne Club in Downtown Pittsburgh.