Western Pennsylvania Journalist Relief Fund

This is an unprecedented time for journalists across the country — and right here at home. Many of our friends and colleagues face layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, we’re raising funds to help Western Pennsylvania journalists who have been impacted by the economic fallout.

As Mister Rogers once said, “Look for the helpers.” In a true neighborly manner, we want to be the helpers.

For a full explanation and to see who is eligible, read the information below or visit PghJournalists.com. Follow our Twitter account at @PghJournalists.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

– Fred Rogers

How it works

If you’re a professional journalist in the Greater Pittsburgh area who has been laid off, furloughed, had your pay cut by your news outlet or have lost out on freelance work, you can apply to receive support.

This fund can help journalists pay for expenses including, but not limited to, housing, food, child care, medical bills and utilities.

We define “journalists” as reporters, editors, photographers, and designers at both unionized and non-unionized news outlets and freelancers whose work appears in professional news outlets.

Journalists do not need to work for a regional news outlet. However, applicants must be able to verify that they live in one of the following counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, Washington or Westmoreland. Proof of residency will be required to receive funds.

The money to build this relief fund will come from colleagues and supporters of journalism. Money will be collected through a GoFundMe account.

For more information, visit PghJournalists.com.

I am able to help support the fund, what can I do?

We ask those who can financially support the fund to please do so. Any amount of money helps support our journalist friends and colleagues — whether you can offer $20, $200 or $2,000.

Please also spread the word to help us collect money. Please share our donation page via your social media channels and email.

Follow our Twitter account at @PghJournalists.

How much money could I receive?

Our initial goal is to raise at least $5,000. Doing so could ensure support for at least 20 journalists. Our goal is to offer up to $250 per recipient. The amount offered will depend on need, amount collected and number of approved applicants. We ask applicants to offer a financial support range. We cannot guarantee that all applicants will receive funds.

Is this a loan?

No. The money is offered as financial support — it is not a loan. Therefore, there is no need to repay the money received. We simply ask that you pay it forward in the future in some way!

The intent of the emergency relief fund is not to supplement income due to unemployment or underemployment. However, recipients may need to claim the contribution as income; please consult with a tax expert.

Is there a deadline to apply?

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. May 17, 2020.

I am a freelancer, how will you verify my work?

We will ask freelancers to verify they were recently active by providing published material such as, but not limited to, links to articles, packages or dated recordings.

I was furloughed before this fund was started, but am back to work in some capacity, can I apply?

Yes. Any journalist who was impacted beginning in March can apply.

When will support be dispersed?

Our goal is to move efficiently through this process. We will update applicants on our date(s) of disbursement of funds.

How do I know if I will receive funds?

Recipients will be notified prior to disbursement of funds. At that time, we will confirm the selected method of disbursement.

How do I know if I will not receive funds?

We plan to communicate with each applicant no later than May 31.

If I receive support, can I apply again?

At this time, the emergency relief fund will be a one-time support effort. However, depending on future conditions, this could change.

How can I apply to receive funds?

We accept applications via this form.

The purpose of the application process helps us centralize tracking and data collection, verify information received, verify that the information meets our guidelines and collect the information we need to consider the request.

Use this form to apply for assistance: https://bit.ly/WPaJournalistReliefFund2020

All applicants must apply using that form. Applications are only accepted via the form.

I want to help but can’t offer financial support, so what can I do?

While we strongly prefer financial contributions, we also can consider gift cards for grocery stores and related retailers (think: Target, Sheetz, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Amazon, Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, Visa, etc). Please use the email address below to reach us.

I have questions – who can I contact?

Please send an email to pghjournalists@gmail.com.

Who is organizing this?

This effort is organized by a number of journalists in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Among those offering help include Bobby Cherry (Hearst Television), Darcie Loreno (Fox 8 Cleveland), Stephanie Backus (Hearst Television), Ben Speggan (Erie Reader) and Daisy Ruth (WFLA).