At Pittsburgh Today, our mission is to provide reliable information so the region’s citizens can understand where we are and use that knowledge to determine where we need to go. Comparing our region to other areas of the country lets us see how we measure up, and what our strengths and weaknesses are. It also gives us a way to measure progress as we move forward as a region.
A new, expanded committee has been organized with the help of a small nominating committee. Our goal was to increase diversity in age, gender and representation from outside Allegheny County.
Members of the Advisory Committee:
- Paul O’Neill, Former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and retired CEO of Alcoa, Inc., Chair
- Donald S. Burke, Dean of Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh
- Lalit Chordia, President/CEO, Thar Technologies
- Susan Everingham, Director Emeritus, RAND
- William “Pat” Getty, President, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation
- Bernard Goldstein, Professor Emeritus and Former Chairman, Grad School of Public Heath University of Pittsburgh
- Cheryl Hall-Russell, President and CEO, Hill House Association and Hill House Economic Development Corp.
- Abass B. Kamara, Consultant, The Carey Group
- Nancy Kukovich, Executive Vice President, Finance and Business Development, Adelphoi USA
- Cathy Lewis Long, The Sprout Fund
- Granger Morgan, Head of Department of Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
- Scott Beach, Director of University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Today traces its roots to a 1995 meeting at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Special Projects reporter Douglas Heuck requested a meeting with Editor John G. Craig Jr. about the possibility of starting a new project. Given that Pittsburgh was still mired in a malaise brought on by the collapse of steel more than a decade earlier, Heuck suggested that, with its large circulation and hundreds of journalists, the newspaper should create a project that would help get Pittsburgh on a more ascendant trajectory. Craig agreed and said he had been considering projects in the Silicon Valley and Boston, which used statistics to chart those regions’ progress over time. Heuck suggested that such a project could be augmented by narrative journalism and that the newspaper could also hold roundtable discussions with leaders in various disciplines and get their opinions on what Pittsburgh needed to do to chart a new and more successful course.
The project — known at PG Benchmarks — ultimately combined both approaches. Heuck consulted experts in the topics of the arts, economy, education, environment, government, health, public safety and transportation about what measures the newspaper should use. Heuck and Craig ultimately chose about 75 main measures and launched the benchmarking project, which contained those statistical indicators as well as narrative journalism and roundtable discussions with regional leaders. The project continued until Heuck left the paper to start Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine and Craig retired.
At about that time, Craig and Paul O’Neill met with Chancellor Mark Nordenberg of the University of Pittsburgh and President Jared Cohon of Carnegie Mellon University to propose that their universities jointly support an 18-month study on the feasibility of establishing a regional indicator system for Greater Pittsburgh. O’Neill, while secretary of the treasury, was involved in initial meetings under the auspices of the GAO and the National Academies to establish a national indicator program. Visit The State of the USA.
Meetings were held with numerous organizations to determine the scope of the project and the indicators. The spring and summer of 2006 were devoted to bringing more precision to the research being performed by the indicator topic committees, obtaining additional funding for the design and launch of a web site. These efforts culminated in the launch of pittsburghtoday.org in November and with it a new regional organization. The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research, which had provided administrative support since the first meetings with the university presidents, led the way in data organization. Site development was the work of ThoughtForm, the Pittsburgh communications consultancy and design firm.
In June 2010, Douglas Heuck was appointed Program Director, after Mr. Craig’s unexpected passing the previous month. Under Heuck’s leadership, the project expanded its use of narrative journalism to augment the several hundred statistical indicators already published.
And since 2010, Pittsburgh Today has brought a combined approach of gathering and publishing regional indicators with in-depth explanatory journalism to bring this information journalism about the region’s future to a larger audience.
Partners and contributors
This program is made possible through the generous support of Pittsburgh-area universities, foundations, and nonprofit organizations. Each of these organizations have made unique contributions, resulting in the continued success of the program.
Partners: Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Breathe, Carnegie Mellon University, Community Indicators Consortium, FracTracker Alliance, Innovation Works, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Pittsburgh Urban Media, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Power of 32, PNC Financial Services, Public Source, RAND, River Alert Information Network, Southwestern Pennsylvania Community Profiles, Sustainable Pittsburgh, 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, UCSUR, University of Pittsburgh, and Vibrant Pittsburgh.
Past and present contributors: Anonymous, The Benter Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, The Fine Foundation, Hillman Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
What is an indicator? An indicator is a quantitative measure that describes some aspect of our community – economic, social, cultural, environmental – over time. There are obviously many ways to measure our community, and we have tried to choose some of the most meaningful. Learn more about other indicator projects that are under way across the country.
What indicators do you have? Our goal is to select indicators that tell the most important facts about our region. We have selected eleven topic areas as the initial focus of this site: Arts, Demographics, Economy, Education, Environment, Government, Health, Housing, Public Safety, Transportation and Sustainability. Data for many new indicators are still in the works.
Who chooses the indicators? Pittsburgh Today has recruited committees of experts in each of the major topic areas to select the indicators.
We welcome you to use our data to further your own projects. You may also republish our original articles, special reports, charts and graphs for free, unless otherwise noted on the work. There are, however, a few conditions:
- Editing our stories is not permitted, except when necessary to account for changes in time, location or editorial style. “Last week,” for example, can be changed to “last month,” if doing so is necessary to adjust to a change in time. Another example: “City of Pittsburgh” can be changed to “Pittsburgh” or “here” to accommodate editorial style.
- If our copy editors miss a typo or misspelling, please notify Pittsburgh Today (see below) about the error. Permission will then be granted to make the correction.
- Graphs and charts can be republished for free without prior permission.
- Photographs, however, cannot be republished without permission.
- You must credit us when republishing our original work. The credit must be in the byline. Our preference is: Author’s Name, Pittsburgh Today.
- The following footnote must be used at the end of the article or report: Pittsburgh Today is a program of the University of Pittsburgh; its work, including statistical comparisons of Pittsburgh to 15 other regions, can be found at PittsburghToday.org.
- When republishing our work online, you must link to us and preserve all links that are contained within the original report or article.
- You cannot republish our work for the purpose of selling it separately.
We encourage you to republish our work. For questions, special permissions or to report errors in the work, please contact the Pittsburgh Today team at .
Who decides which topics to cover? The members of the Topic Area Committee and Pittsburgh Today Staff decide which indicators to develop. They recommend their choices to the organizing committee, which makes all decisions on what is published. When available, experts from outside the committees are brought in to offer their knowledge.
Why is there more than one definition of Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh refers to different places because circumstances dictate it. The federal government keeps comparative data on what it calls Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The Pittsburgh MSA is made up of seven counties. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission defines the Pittsburgh region as 10 counties. Pennsylvania law defines the Port of Pittsburgh as covering 11 counties. The Pittsburgh International Airport considers 25 counties in three states to be its primary market area. With Pittsburgh, one size does not fit all.
Why are Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia included in a site about Pittsburgh? The U.S. Commerce Department defines 183 regions of the country as functioning Economic Areas. The Pittsburgh EA has 19 counties, including nine in Ohio and WV. Because the three-county Morgantown MSA is so integral to the lives of Greene and Fayette County residents, it is included in a 22-county regional configuration.
Where does your funding come from? To date all the money to support this project has come from private foundations whose names are featured among our partners. Because institutions like Carnegie Mellon and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission have contributed research time and counsel in creation of Pittsburgh Today indicators, the public and private funds that underwrite them are also going indirectly to the project. That said, philanthropy is what underwrites Pittsburgh Today.
Can I suggest or submit data that I think should be included? Absolutely “yes.” You should understand, however, that the appropriate topic committees will make the decision on what to do with your material and how to proceed. Committee members have wide experience and knowledge about you areas of concern.
Why does it matter how Pittsburgh compares to benchmark regions? Comparisons matter because presenting data without context is like boxing with one arm tied behind your back. You might think that an unemployment rate of 6 percent was good, because three years ago the rate was 7.2 percent. Your opinion might change, however, if you learned that in Cleveland and Boston unemployment is 4.8 percent today. Rather than a system to rank cities, benchmarking explores the strengths, weaknesses and connections between indicators.
Who verifies your data? The first level of verification is the federal government, which is the source of approximately 70 percent of the data used in our regional indicators, with state and local governments accounting for another 20 percent. The topic committees, which contain experts, look very closely at new data produced by commercial or academic institutions, as well as take great care that the government-supplied data are accurately reported and fairly organized for purposes of comparison. They also confer with colleagues. Finally, there is the organizing committee itself: five local leaders who have dealt for many years in specialized work that required high-level knowledge in fields like economics, education, health, journalism and science. Nothing is published by Pittsburgh Today without their approval.
Are you another one of those organizations touting Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh Today is from Pittsburgh and for Pittsburgh and hopes to serve Pittsburgh’s interests. It does this by providing Pittsburghers with better intelligence. It believes that providing good, easily understood information day in and day out, year after year, is a public service. By providing good descriptions of reality there is at least some chance that when people or governments choose to act their decisions will be informed; without a factual basis for action it is difficult for democracy to work.
How can I contact you? Please forward your request to .