When I first discovered alt weeklies, it was the early 1990s and at my request, my mother got me a mail subscription to the Village Voice.
I’d heard of its edgy journalism over the years and I wanted to see it for myself. After six months of the Voice, I subscribed to the Baltimore City Paper. A few years later, living in Illinois, I’d discover the Chicago Reader. I knew these papers had great news, arts and music coverage, but it wasn’t until I lived outside of Chicago and actually used the Reader on the weekends when I’d visit that I learned the value of the pages and pages of listings in the back.
When I started working in alt weeklies back in 2000, it was the cutting-edge journalism and the ability to tell stories that no one else was telling that drew me to In Pittsburgh weekly and, later, City Paper. However, I’ve always remained aware of the importance of our comprehensive event listings. And I’ve always believed that the content of the listings is even more important than the delivery method.
That’s why starting today, for probably the first time in this paper’s 25 years of publication, you won’t find complete in-paper listings in our pages. The space we have dedicated to listings has changed over the years as the newspaper industry has changed. Except for concert listings, we are moving all of our listings to our website. We are also requiring all of our listings submissions to be made in our new, easy-to-use online-submission tool. We will continue to take fax and emailed submissions up until Aug. 24 for any listings scheduled between today and Sept. 30. And we’ll also input any listings that have already been sent to our offices for events through the end of the year.
I know that this news will not please some readers, and I can hear the gathering of pitchforks from here. But with smartphones, tablets and laptops at nearly everyone’s fingertips, our listings are easier than ever to access. Also, we’re not simply subtracting from the paper; we are adding new content that we believe is a better use of our newsprint and resources. In terms of event listings, we have expanded Short List, our rundown of featured events that offers details beyond event names and addresses.
But we’ve got more going on than listings-related changes.
You might already have noticed our new dining-and-drink pages that we introduced at the end of June. In addition to our top-notch dining reviews from Angelique Bamberg and Jason Roth, we have added two new pages of food-and-drink content, reported and curated by staff writer Celine Roberts. Roberts came to City Paper in 2014 as our assistant listings editor and with her knowledge of local food and drink, I knew I wanted her to become a big part of that coverage. In addition to what she brings to the print edition, she also produces an insightful weekly podcast about the local food scene.
In May, after months of readers asking for the return of the News of The Weird column, we decided to give them what they want. But we wanted to provide something new, not just the same syndicated column they could find online. That led to Weird Pittsburgh, by local writer Nick Keppler. There’s plenty of strange shit going on in our own backyard; there’s no need to read about the weird stuff happening in Montana. The page also features a weekly comic strip from a Pittsburgh cartoonist, the one and only Wayno. His strange look at the world makes me smile every week.
That brings us to the final change, which I talked about at length in last week’s paper: CP’s new sports section. We’ll bring you coverage of your favorite teams like the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins, as well as your favorite teams of the future — you know, the ones you don’t know about yet. We’ll also bring you fun features like this week’s, on the proper way to catch a foul ball.
You’re also going to notice a new layout of the paper. The goal here, as with all of our changes, is to give you useful, informative, well-written stories from the front of the book to the back. Moving listings from print to online-only allows us to do that. And these might not be the last changes you see. We’re always looking for new features and stories to improve your reading, both in print and online. You can always let me know how you feel and suggest new features and story ideas by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.