During the strike, management and the unions had attempted to put out newspapers with mixed results.
The Press brought in workers from other Scripps newspapers and set up a makeshift dormitory inside its Boulevard of the Allies offices with dozens of cots and a washer and dryer. On publication day, it hired private security guards and enlisted city police officers to clear a path for trucks to break through the picket lines.
As delivery drivers attempted to leave the parking lot, striking workers started throwing bricks and bottles, and they tousled with police, which led to 20 arrests. The newspapers gave up trying to print after two days.
The unions put out their own weekly publication called the Greater Pittsburgh Newspaper.
During a strike this time around, management and the unions could simply go online. The most significant change to come out of a strike this time, however, could be the economic one. A strike will impact both readers and advertisers.
Back in the early 1990s, the Los Angeles Times interviewed a woman named Cora Scott who said she picked up the Post-Gazette nearly every day before the strike — but only half as often afterward. Once they broke the daily habit, many people never came back or at least not as frequently.
Similarly, advertisers quickly realized that they didn’t necessarily need the newspaper to reach their customers. Pizza shops and movie theaters printed up fliers during the 1990s strike that they handed out in grocery stores, and Giant Eagle started mailing advertisements directly to homes.
Thirty years ago, newspaper owners worried that readership and revenues were starting to decline. Both have cratered in the decades since. Newspaper readership, which peaked nationwide in the 1960s at around 62 million, and advertising revenue, which peaked at $49 million in 2006, have both fallen by about half, according to the Pew Research Center.
That makes the situation much more fragile this time around.
Comings & Goings
Just days after leaving the Post-Gazette with a tear-wrenching goodbye, courts reporter Paula Reed Ward announced via Twitter that she has a new home at the Tribune-Review. She will still be covering Allegheny County courts.
The founding director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, Andrew Conte writes the On Media column at NEXTpittsburgh with support from The Heinz Endowments. You can find all of his columns here, and you may reach him at PittsburghPublicEditor@gmail.com.