At a holiday party last week, over a plate of honey-drizzled brie and a magnificent view of my favorite city, a woman I’ve known for some time asked me how I do it and why I’m not burnt out by now.

There we were in this sensational downtown condo (sadly, not mine) with a 180-degree view of the city I love (happily, mine) and with a glass of very good wine. It was one of the more exceptional moments of a very good year, surrounded by a convivial group of community leaders and influencers and developers and activists, all swept up in the spirit of the season, if not the setting.

This party capped a few weeks of festive holiday affairs, most in far less fancy places, but surrounded by a similar group of hard-working and fun people who work daily to advance this city we all love.

Burned out? Nah.

While the parties are great, my days are typically spent in meetings–many quite stimulating, discussing collaborative efforts like the 200 Dinners we’re launching in 2016—or hunched over a Mac Air I cart everywhere as I write (too infrequently) and edit and look over photos and obsess over things. Who’s not included in this story? How credible is this source? What’s with that photo?

While I’m closing in on two years at NEXTpittsburgh, I’ve been at this now for 10 years: writing, editing and publishing an online magazine. That’s what the woman who questioned my burnout status was referring to. I started with Pop City in 2006 which was the first of its kind in town, back in the day when people didn’t know how to un-subscribe which made for incredibly easy list-building. And I have continued with a great team, pictured above, to produce the more robust and locally-focused NEXTpittsburgh, launched in March of 2014, opt-in subscribers only, thank you.

In the 10 years that my very talented team and I have been covering the movers and shakers and supporters of this city, we’ve seen and reported first-hand on the transformation of Pittsburgh, which has been nothing less than miraculous. We recently wrote about Aggie Brose, the never-had-a-toke great-grandma activist who advanced the decriminalization of marijuana in Pittsburgh. It was one of my favorite stories of the year. And we broke the news that Zagat readers named Pittsburgh the number one food city of 2015. Numero uno! We were also the first to report on the Cleveland Plain Dealer analysis story that Pittsburgh ranked number two in arts attendance of 11 cities, including New York and Los Angeles.

And that was just last week.

All that news followed a NEXTpittsburgh survey that showed this about our wonderful readers: 92% graduated from college and/or have an advanced degree, 95% voted in the last presidential election and 71% attended a cultural event–think plays, concerts, dance performances– in the last month. 

Lou Musante, whose company conducted the survey, said the results were nothing short of phenomenal — not just the number of responders but also the quick response time.

That speaks of a highly engaged readership and for that, among other things, we have you to thank. Along with making us look good on a daily basis by doing very cool and innovative things that we get to report on.

Nope, not burned out.

Most of the time. There are days when we think we’re done and we are beat and then something breaks and we all get back to work no matter what the time or mood or place. Once–OK, more than once–I have pulled out my laptop in a bar to edit a story, not something I would recommend, but something I’ve toyed with mentioning at the time: This fast-breaking story was edited by someone in a bar. Just sayin’.

And certainly there is never enough time for it all. For instance, I have meant to make this letter-from-the-publisher a fairly regular feature. Guess what. This is my first of the year and it’s December 21.

But we muddle through, sometimes exceedingly pleased with a story and sometimes wishing we had more time before we hit that publish button. More details, more refined writing, more captivating photos. We can be perfectionists but because we have deadlines we can also be quite adept in the art of letting go, a good life lesson.

Looking back, I have to say it was a very good year for NEXTpittsburgh. Along with publishing more than 1200 stories of inspiring people, projects, events and ideas, we hosted a party for the Forbes Fund with more than 400 celebrating UpPrize, their social innovation exchange; we kicked off the first NEXT 3 Days event with the URA in Troy Hill, recognizing an unsung neighborhood; and we were media sponsors for dozens of cool events that raised significant money for nonprofit groups.

And as someone pointed out today, we did it all without a Kickstarter or paid subscriptions. For that, we have our generous sponsors to thank. They bring this all to you free.

As we wrap up to take a break over the holidays we want to thank you — warmly, sincerely, nothing short of passionately — for your loyal readership and support. The NEXTpittsburgh audience completely rocks, we’re telling you.

And we want to wish you a wonderful holiday. We hope you, too, get a break. We all need one every now and then so we don’t, you know, burn out.

All of us at NEXT raise a glass to all of you in gratitude and love, with a resolution — why not — to make 2016 the best ever for Pittsburgh.


Tracy Certo

Publisher of NEXTpittsburgh

Tracy is the founder and Editor at Large of NEXTpittsburgh which she started in March 2014 and sold in December 2020. She is passionate about making Pittsburgh a better place for all and connecting people to do the same.