In a society where television and social media seem to dictate the stories and content we consume on a regular basis, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how vital local news sources are for keeping up with what’s going on in our communities and the decisions being made right in our backyards. Katie Green — the Neighborhood News Network editor for Trib Total Media — is passionate about helping local news sources thrive.
In my interview with her, I was able to learn about her earliest endeavors in the editing world, her love of reading, and how her work at the Trib often reveals stark contrasts between what is considered relevant or newsworthy for residents in different areas of Allegheny County. Read our full interview below:
Where are you from?
I’m from Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which is about a half an hour south of Pittsburgh.
Where did you go to school?
I went to the University of Pittsburgh. My major was English writing with a concentration in journalism.
What inspired you to become an editor?
Honestly, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a writer when I grew up — a journalist, an author, anything involving writing.
My career really started at The Pitt News, where I began as a staff writer in arts and entertainment, and then for my last two semesters there, I was the A&E editor.
I guess my career path is sort of non-traditional in that I’ve never really worked as a reporter. When I graduated, I was interning with a publication called Whirl Magazine. I interned there and got hired on as an editorial assistant, and within a year of graduating, I became their managing editor when I was around 22 or 23 years old. Looking back, I can’t believe I had that much responsibility and I was able to do it.
You’ve been at Trib Total Media for a little over two years. Tell us about your career there.
I started here in May 2019. I oversee weekly and monthly community newspapers in Allegheny County and around 33 hyperlocal websites. It’s been interesting to be a part of building that and seeing it come to life.
I feel very strongly about local news and its importance for communities. You can turn on the TV and get on social media to access your national and international news, but in terms of what’s going on in your community, with your municipal council or school board, the only places where that’s going to get coverage are local newspapers.
What happens at the municipal government level and the school board is so much more important and impactful to citizens’ day-to-day lives than the bigger stuff.
As the Neighborhood News Network editor, you oversee the Bethel Park Journal, North Journal, Sewickley Herald, Signal Item and South Hills Record. What have you learned about the culture and communities in these different areas?
What has really been eye-opening is to see that what’s important or relevant in one community might not even be an issue in another community. Pittsburgh is such a diverse area, and you can have neighboring municipalities that are dealing with completely different situations.
For example, the Penn Hills School District was around $172 million in debt when I started two years ago because of a new high school and elementary school they built. Their taxes are high, and this is a significant issue for that district because home values are not very high.
At the same time, over in Sewickley, you have the Quaker Valley School District. They are also getting a new school, but the back in forth in that area is about whether they should build it on an existing site or build it on a new piece of property in Leetsdale. The decision has been made to build it on the new property in Leetsdale, but I get letters to the editor almost every week still arguing for or against where they’re planning to build the school.
You used to be a freelance writer for Jambands.com. Can you tell me a little about your experience reviewing CDs for them?
My interests have always lied in arts and entertainment. At one point in college, my ultimate goal was to work at Rolling Stone Magazine. So, freelancing for Jambands was sort of a step in that direction. A CD would come in the mail every month — sometimes I would be familiar with the artist, sometimes I wouldn’t — and I would just review it. It was a lot of fun.
What do you like to do outside of work?
This may come as a shock to you, but I love to read. I have a goal to read 21 books in the year 2021. Stephen King is my all-time favorite author, and I read Stephen King’s “It” when I was in fifth grade.
I’m also married, and I have an eight-year-old son who plays soccer, so my husband and I attend his soccer games.
Over the years, I have also been tracing my family tree. It’s difficult because, on my mom’s side, my ancestors have lived in the United States for hundreds of years. I’m actually eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. My dad’s side of the family is from Slovenia and Croatia and not only are records hard to come by there, but they’re in another language and not on the internet, so it’s a lot more difficult.
– Maggie Medoff, WordWrite