By Caitlin Spitzer
At this point in the paper, you’ll be well aware that our run has come to an end. As someone who has been working for the local Gazette for almost ten years, I only have one response to this…
Finally, it’s over! Woohoo! Let’s rejoice. We’re over, it’s done. Ciao. Adios. Farewell.
For those who don’t know who I am, I’ve been with the local newspaper since the days of the Suburban Gazette. I was a fresh graphic design student straight out of college when I started doing layouts for the original newspaper business on Locust Street, McKees Rocks. It was 2014 when I found myself putting together news pages from a dingy back room with only one tiny window, inhaling the pungent smell of secondhand smoke all day long. It was an experience, to say the least.
When the business shut down in 2017, I was approached by businessman Sonny Jani to start a new and improved local newspaper with him serving as publisher. Thus starting the six year long journey that would be Gazette 2.0.
I mostly worked behind the scenes, doing the layouts, billing, advertising and a little bit of everything else, even acting as editor-in-chief for a few years. I’ve talked with a lot of advertisers and customers during that time. My experience with people, for the most part, was positive. But of course, when you’re in the business of dealing with people, you’re going to run into those that are not so nice. I will not name-call, of course, because I’m more mature than those that I’m referring to but you all know who you are.
For those of you who wished for us to disappear, I guess you are finally getting your wish. But the joke is on you because that’s something we both have in common. We’re both glad this is over.
No more dealing with difficult people, no more long nights drinking cup after cup of coffee and no more putting a paper together last minutes because articles, advertising and other directives were coming in way past deadline. No more advertisers yelling at me because their grainy, blurry pictures they insist on using turned out horribly (I warned you!) No more worrying about if we can pay our bills and if payroll would run. No more billing issues, because I never knew what I was doing (sorry, advertisers, we would appreciate it if you paid your past due bills though.) No more stress.
This is just a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes that most of you never saw. We put blood, sweat and tears into this (quite literally sometimes) and barely got any return.
I am 29 years old now. Thinking back on who I was in my early twenties when I first started with the paper versus who I am now as an almost 30-year-old, the difference is almost striking. Just ask those who have known me from the beginning. I am a completely different person. A lot of that had to do with the mental toughness I’ve built up from working in an environment that wasn’t the nicest all the time. So to all of the rude advertisers, local politicians that loved to threaten and bash us for doing our jobs and just the overall customers that thought being disrespectful to me and our business would accomplish anything, I guess I should thank you in a way. You made me who I am today.
And for the rest of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. In time I will forget about those who were unpleasant human beings. But I will always remember the kindness people showed. To all of our readers, do not let this end stop you from reporting what’s going on in your town. If you witness BS, call it. Reach out to the other rapidly shrinking pool of regional news organizations. Be proactive. Don’t let your local politicians and business owners get away with nonsense.
I plan to move to Texas at the end of the year. It will be a new beginning for me and I’m not sure what the future will hold other than rodeos, cowgirl boots and honkytonks – yeehaw!
I will probably move back to Pittsburgh one day, but it might be years before that happens. Until then, I will watch from a distance and hope that when I do come back, things will have changed for the better in our towns.
I hope you all can join us for our final farewell party (our publisher is calling it a wake, or memorial service for community journalism) on Nov. 2. There will be food and drinks (if those outstanding advertising bills remain unpaid or way past due and Gazette 2.0 isn’t paying for it, you best bet I will sneak in my own), maybe some tears, but mostly just a like-minded group of people coming together to close out a chapter that has been so fundamental for so many years.
I am sad to see this come to an end. But thank God it’s finally over. Hasta la vista, suckers!
Say farewell with us
Editor’s note: The farewell party for Gazette 2.0 (and community journalism on the whole) is set for Thursday, Nov. 2. We’ll begin gathering to reminisce and share crazy behind the scene stories at 6 p.m.. The “wake” is scheduled to end when the last person shuts the door and turns out the lights. Please join us at 701 Yunker St., McKees Rocks. Donations greatly appreciated.