From Pittsburgh Current Staff Reports
According to readership data compiled by The Media Audit, a Houston-based independent audience-measurement firm, the Pittsburgh Current’s twice-monthly print publication has a readership of 174,055, trailing behind just the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Magazine.
The Current, co-founded by Pittsburgh City Paper management alumni Charlie Deitch and Bethany Ruhe, was first published in July 2018. The company’s total readership numbers, including web and print, is 226,418.
While Deitch says he was surprised by the size of the readership number, he’s not surprised that the Current has resonated with readers. It is the first time that the Pittsburgh Current has been included in the audit and while Deitch says the paper is optimistic about the new numbers, he looks forward to seeing how the numbers fluctuate over time. That said, Deitch believes the strong start is due mostly to the current’s business model which is set up around a sole idea: readers come first.
“For years, media companies have been following a flawed business model,” Deitch says. “They chase sales revenues first, and make the most of their content decisions based on what advertisers want to purchase space around.
“I have long said that this model is the reason that media companies are failing. Print numbers have fallen off, to be sure, but print publications have been unfairly tagged as the sole reason media companies fail. In reality, media companies fail because they put the needs of their readers behind the needs of their advertisers. Bethany and I have spent the past year building a diverse content-delivery platform made up of print and digital platforms that best serve our readers. These numbers tell me that it worked.”
Deitch has long been a dissenting voice to those who continue to claim print is dead. “All you would hear is that no one is reading print, especially younger consumers,” Deitch says. “If it’s content readers want, they will consume it in any form. That’s why we offer so many options. But one of the most heartening things about these numbers is the number of younger readers between the ages of 18 and 30 who read our print product.
According to the audit, 52,139 of the Current’s print readers are between the ages of 18-24, better than any other print or online publication. In other key categories, 18-34, 21-34 and other similar categories, the Current trails only the P-G.
“We are proud of the reach we’ve been able to build in less than a year,” Deitch says. “We believe we offer what other publications don’t — a truly independent, reader-first publication. We can do that because we are an independently owned and operated media company with a journalist serving as publisher.
“Without readers, there is no business. Our advertisers know we’re not just selling them space like some publications do, we are selling them access to smart, loyal and informed potential future customers. Our readers are with us because of the content that we offer.”
Ruhe says the Pittsburgh Current is successful because it isn’t a print company with a digital component or vice versa. “We are a media company that was built from the ground up incorporating all of these functions,” she says. “We did that by using our experience in the industry, hiring the best people and forging partnerships with a number of content providers and even other media companies to provide our readers with what they want.”
Some of those partnerships include:
Working with former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette political cartoonist Rob Rogers to create his iconic Brewed on Grant cartoon in each edition.
Reached content agreements with some of the city’s top freelance writers and personalities including theater critic Ted Hoover, iternationally known dance writer Steve Sucato, lit writer Jody DiPerna, national-award-winning LGBTQ blogger and activist Sue Kerr, political strategist Kierran Young, feminist/political activist Jess Semler, comedian and sports writer Mike Wysocki and standup comedian/anti-bullying advocate Gab Bonesso. That’s all in addition to one of our original contributors, Day Bracey, cohost of the Drinking Partners Podcast and cofounder of Freah Fest, one of the country’s premiere craft beer festival Also, when we were looking for money to get started, Day hosted a comedy fundraiser for us so we could buy desks for the office we couldn’t afford He has been one of our biggest supporters
The Current is also the Pittsburgh home for the long-running, critically acclaimed sex-advice column from Dan Savage. “Dan will always be important to us and he was one of the first people to make us believe that starting this product was the right thing to do. Before we printed our first paper, Dan pulled his column from our competitor and gave it to us because he believed in what we were doing.
Formed the Pittsburgh Current Podcast Network which produces several original programs: The No Restrictions Podcast starring standup comedian and iconic former WDVE morning man, Jim Krenn; Pittsburgh Current Concert Series featuring intimate performances by the city’s best musicians and Sex, with Michele James, a sex-positivity podcast hosted by Pittsburgh-based adult-film performer and sex worker, Michele James, which launches September 19. In addition, the Current is also the Pittsburgh Home of the Crosscheck Podcast hosted by Pittsburgh Penguins legend, Kevin Stevens.