Viola Davis said it best on 60 minutes last week. During an interview about her breakout role as Ma Rainey, which got her an Oscar nomination and cemented her at the top of her field, she was asked: “what do you think about at a time like this?” Her response was that she thought about what it was like growing up poor and not knowing where the food would come from.
We learned this week that PGN was just awarded The Society of Professional Journalists’ “Best overall non-daily newspaper in Pennsylvania.” We also won a host of other awards including best editorial, entertainment feature, and two awards for best column.
PGN is not only the best in its field in Pennsylvania, but having won a similar distinction from the National Newspaper Association, we are at the top of our field nationally. And like Viola Davis, this publisher’s thoughts go back to that time growing up poor in the Wilson Park Housing Project in South Philly, not knowing if my family would be able to pay the monthly rent. That feeling never leaves you, and you feel you have to fight each day to continue the success you’ve achieved.
That fight for me led to my early fight for Equality. Confrontations and arrests followed, but the desire to fight for those being treated unfairly burned deep since I personally knew what it felt like. That is the same spirit of PGN and what makes our journalism different. We are that activist newspaper. We are not afraid to take up the battle for those marginalized, dismissed or just ignored.
It’s why this newspaper pioneers areas that sometimes our community is not ready to embrace. It was intersectional long before the word was coined; it recognized that the trans community would be where privileged America would show their anger and backlash at our community; and it championed LGBTQ seniors, homeless people, and bullied youth. Our editorials and columns are opinionated and we take pride in giving our community a place to communicate with each other.
So what were our winning awards about?
Best overall non-daily newspaper in Pennsylvania; best editorial for a non-daily, Jason Villemez; lifestyle and entertainment reporting, first place, Michele Zipkin for “Black queer entertainers address discrimination;” column writing second place, Family Forward, Jen Colletta; and this column also won a best column writing award.
We are humbled by the recognition, and we promise our community and journalist peers that we will continue our passion and hope that our journalism will help bring about change.